Guild Officer Report for Guild Council

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Date submitted: 21/11/2011.

The following was submitted as part of the Guild Council paperwork for the Guild Council meeting on 6/12/11. It was emailed to all Guild Councillors and attendees on 29/11/11. The below was included in ’4h. Guild Officer Reports’ on pages 21 and 22.

What duties have you been carrying out which tie into your manifesto pledges?

Better Representation:

>Attended Student Rep Induction event for Dental School student reps and collected feedback on how my role could be used effectively this year. Concerns have been noted and will be acted upon as far as I can manage.

>During campaign week, I visited the Shakespeare Institute and met with the committee of their performance group to discuss matters of the relationship between them and the Guild. They were unsatisfied with the representation they have experienced and told me that their last visit from the Guild was in 2009 and even then they were unsatisfied. They requested that if I am elected, which of course now I am, I should visit them once a term.

>I also told The Shakespeare Institute Players about being a Guild recognised society, which they responded positively about. I followed up my promise to them by sending them an email with the start-up form and further advice. I am awaiting a decision from the committee.

>During the Better Forums, I requested that promotional material should be sent to the satellite sites and not restricted to prime spots on the Edgbaston Campus. This was noted.

 

Improved Transport:

>I have met with a staff member at Selly Oak campus to discuss the current state of the Selly Shuttle. This staff member has been dealing with the change of timetable over the summer and informed me of the limitations and frustration he has faced. We discussed options for protecting the welfare of drama students during production weeks (four separate weeks in the academic year) and a further meeting is required to make decisions. Options were also discussed for the betterment of the Selly Shuttle service and the reasons for its reduced timetable.

 

Bring the Guild to you:

>By attending the Student Rep induction at the Dental School, I brought the Guild to a satellite site and created a more positive, comfortable atmosphere for students to voice their opinions in their familiar site.

>Promotional material has been suggested to be distributed to satellite sites as well as on the main Edgbaston campus.

>I’m planning visits to the satellite sites by some of the Guild Officer team in the future.

>Forwarded email with details of away trips for international and home students – positive feedback received.

 

What other duties have you been carrying out within your role?

>As a side project for myself, I co-ordinated a collection of shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child is a project whereby you decorate a shoebox with Christmas wrapping paper and fill it with small gifts like teddies, toothpaste, tennis balls and more, then add a note for the gender and age group you wish to receive the box. The boxes are sent to the most deprived parts of the world. To promote the project, I added a note in the weekly Societies newsletter, asking for people to get involved either as individuals or as societies. I also posted leaflets with contact details in the pigeon-holes of societies as an extra point of contact. Posters were distributed around the Guild. This meant that in addition to my own box, Saturday Morning Playscheme got involved by giving two boxes, The Beeches Volunteering Officer passed on ten boxes from Beeches residents, the Guild’s own Disabled Students Officer donated a box herself and a very welcome last-minute addition was made by an anonymous student. In total, 15 boxes were taken to Edgbaston’s drop-off point and I will report back in January when I receive news of where the boxes were delivered to. Thank you to Jen Kirk for helping me send the boxes off to the drop-off point and to all those who got involved with creating their shoebox gifts – you’re going to make some children extremely happy this winter!

 

>Blogging! Since being elected, I have published three blog posts well above the requirement of 100 words. The first post was an introductory post that promised for a good year, the second post introduced Operation Christmas Child and the third post was a report from the last Guild Council. See: http://officerblogs.com/sso for more details.

 

>National Demo Coaches. At the end of my first week as Satellite Sites Officer, I had to make a difficult decision about the National Demo coaches as part of GOG.

 

>MAD: Mind Awareness Days. Attended the focus group for MAD. I was actioned to present research on the use of colour in marketing, following comments from attendees who suggested a change of design for publicity. As well as this, I promised to use my contacts within the Drama department to potentially bring local theatre groups who may want to get involved. Also spoke to a student group committee member and asked him to put forward the idea to his committee. Awaiting feedback.

 

>Guild Council. Attended GC on 10th November and engaged in debate where necessary. Defended the President when a censure was proposed against him for inappropriate tweeting. See my blog for a full GC commentary.

 

>Staff. Whilst I represent students, I do feel that the staff should be taken into account and their concerns should be looked after. As such, I have spoken with a lecturer of Drama and Theatre Arts concerning the non-use of some buildings on the Selly Oak campus. This will be brought up with the VPDR in due course and information will be fed back to the department.

 

What do you aim to get done before the Guild Council?

>Meet with Sabb mentor to discuss action plan on certain manifesto points.

>Publish this report on my blog when the Guild Council papers get sent out.

>Present colour research to DSO and VPW for MAD.

>Attend GOG.

>Attend Intercultural Awareness Training session as suggested by ISO.

>Hopefully attend non-sabb training (it has been problematic to arrange a training session due to the busy schedules of the new non-sabbatical officers).

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Vici Royle
Satellite Sites Officer
Email: v.royle@guild.bham.ac.uk
Twitter: @GuildSSO
Blog: http://officerblogs.com/sso

Guild Council Report 10/11/11

Firstly, as a point of information, Guild Officers are not able to vote on anything in Guild Council so no reports of how I voted will be available (because, well, I didn’t vote, obviously).

Here we go…

Guild Council is the highest democratic body in the Guild of Students. Those who attend are elected to represent constituents such as student group mini-forums, departmental schools, associations and so on. The whole sabbatical and non-sabbatical (aka the Guild Officers) also attend but do not have a vote on the motions. We are there to receive comments from the elected Guild Councillors, to answer questions and to speak up about topics if needs must. Also, as Guild Officers we need to understand what’s going on in the Guild and what students want. Attending Guild Council is an efficient way to do this. The people in the room are not only Guild Councillors (or Guild Officers, or the chair & deputy chair): anyone can attend and the meeting regularly welcomes students with no constituency to represent (i.e. they come representing themselves).

The point of this post is not to explain the workings of Guild Council but to report on the changes made and a few poignant discussions that happened during the last meeting. If anyone has any questions on the methods used at Guild Council, either email me (v.royle@guild.bham.ac.uk) or the Vice President of Democracy and Resources, Hugo (h.sumner@guild.bham.ac.uk). A more detailed account of an Open Place Guild Councillor’s experience of Guild Council, including a breakdown of all the motions that were voted on and sections discussed, can be found here: http://defraine.tumblr.com. I’ll just be focusing on the issues I feel most affect the Satellite Sites students and I found a personal interest in.

Firstly, the Officer Discipline Policy. At the previous Guild Council, not enough people attended for the meeting to be quorate (so there was less than 50% + 1 of elected representatives). One of the motions that was not starred (i.e. did not want to be discussed) was the Officer Discipline Policy. As it was not starred, it passed (it was agreed on). The elected Officer team then had to sign this document in agreement to follow its rules. Previous to this, there was no Code of Conduct by which the Officer team had to adhere. Whilst it goes without saying that Officer should be responsible, it was, in effect, a free-for-all. A brief discussion was had regarding this policy and many felt that certain sections were “unacceptable”. The argument to ratify this motion called for it to be agreed upon and then changed at the next Guild Council to amend the “unacceptable” sections. To nullify the Policy document would mean that amendments could not be made therefore progress is halted. It makes sense to me that there should be an Officer Code of Conduct so that Guild Officers have enforced responsibility with clear guidelines for how they must act and what they cannot do. The Code of Conduct should be relevant to the Guild and useful. A vote was held and the motion did not pass. Therefore, there is no current Officer Code of Conduct or Discipline Policy.

In the Questions & Scrutiny section, comments are directed at the Guild Officer team on a variety of subjects. Censures can also be given if an Officer is believed to have strayed away from his or her job or done something “not cool” (in the words of Chair Johnny Dolan). Three censures were attempted. The first was against the President for “inappropriate use of social media” (namely: Twitter). This censure did not pass and, in my opinion, rightly so. I gave a point of information that if the President was to receive this censure, the whole Guild Officer team should be monitored on their use of social media (namely: Twitter) and the fact that only one of the GOs received this censure shows that it was potentially a personal attack. I used an example of VP Housing & Community’s (VPHC) tweets that was seemingly irrelevant to his job as VP. In addition, there are no guidelines for the use of social media and, referring back to my previous point, there is not Officer Code of Conduct. How does one justify, then, inappropriate or appropriate use without agreed guidelines? A point I did not make at Guild Council was realised to me later on: the tweet used as an attempt to prosecute the President referred to “post-Fab analysis”. Whilst the general jist of the tweet was social rather than business-like, he still did refer to a Guild-run event therefore was promoting involvement in the Guild. Just saying.

The second censure was against non-sabbatical officer of Environment and Ethics (EEO) for lack of communication. This, again, did not pass. The EEO’s sabbatical mentor, VPHC, produced a perfectly valid defense that as a non-sabbatical officer, work over the summer is difficult as she spent her time at home as a break from her studies and that emails were sent to the correct people but were not replied to. In this instance, I feel that this problem could have been ironed out by speaking to the officer herself rather than potentially humiliating her in front of the whole of Guild Council. Alice Swift, who proposed the censure, repeatedly said “I don’t want to be doing this”. I wholly agree and suggest that if you do not want to do something, don’t do it. I urge any similar potential censures to be resolved by contacting the officer in question directly rather than going to such means at Guild Council. All email addresses are fairly simple: either use the first initial, then a dot, then their surname (i.e. v.royle, h.sumner etc) or their job title initials (i.e. sso, vpdr) followed by @guild.bham.ac.uk (v.royle@guild.bham.ac.uk, sso@guild.bham.ac.uk). As I said, this particular censure did not pass and the EEO was given a chance considering her commitments within her degree and the time-restraints she has.

During questions, the Guild Officer team (possibly directed specifically at the VPDR) were asked of their thoughts on female-participation within the recent Guild Councillor elections and Officer By-elections. The VPDR suggested going through the candidates list and presenting the findings of male:female ratio as a solid statistic. When questioned on the representation of women in the room and suggested that there should be more women at Guild Council, I gave a point of information, which I have since been criticised for, that it is impossible to find out whether people voted for a candidate based on gender or based on policy. I can say that the way I vote for candidates is based on whether I believe they would be the best person for the job, decided through an observation of their personality and analysis of their policy points. I respect that some people would prefer to see more female Guild Councillors and, in that case, urge women to step forward and show that they, as individuals, are the best people for the job. Democracy is about fairness and having a 50-50 split of female:male Guild Councillors based on their gender does not seem very fair to me as this may push good candidates to the wayside. If a 50-50 split occured as a result of the best candidates being elected, this would be a fantastic thing and, as I’ve said, I urge those who believe in this ratio to encourage females to run for Guild Council positions. The current Women’s Officer has suggested that she will work with the VPDR to research the ways in which they can encourage more female participation.

This brings me to the end of what I particularly wanted to communicate. As aforementioned, for a more detailed account from an Open Place Guild Councillor, please read this.

As always, if there are any questions or comments that you wish to make, either email me (v.royle@guild.bham.ac.uk) or leave a constructive comment.

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Vici
Satellite Sites Officer
email: v.royle@guild.bham.ac.uk
twitter: @GuildSSO

A side project: Operation Christmas Child

This year I’m donating a shoebox gift to Operation Christmas Child and wanted to get more people involved as it’s such a great cause. If you don’t know about it already, OCC is part of Samaritan’s Purse International Relief and is the largest Christmas project in the world, set up in 1990. To get involved, you decorate a shoebox with wrapping paper and fill it with small gifts like notepads, pens, hat, scarf, gloves, sweets, soft toys, small sports equipment, hair accessories etc (see attachment for full list of suggestions). It is then sent to a drop-off point (the nearest to the Guild are in Harborne and Edgbaston) where it is then sent to the toughest parts of the world for the benefit of underprivileged children.

As I want to get more people involved, I’m coordinating a collection all throughout Week 8. To get involved, create a shoebox gift and drop it off in the Guild Officer offices (up the stairs past Spar to the top floor, take a U-turn to the right) or email me on the address below to arrange a personal collection. On Friday 11am in Week 8 hopefully many people will have given me their shoebox gifts and I’ll stock up the boot of a car and drive off to the drop-off point to make lots of people happy.

I’ve already made my shoebox gift and, just to give you an example, it was aimed at a girl aged 5-9 and I included:

  • A hat and gloves
  • Jelly beans
  • A pack of 10 notepads
  • Felt tip pens
  • A toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hair accessories

If you want to get involved, please leave a comment or drop me an email at v.royle@guild.bham.ac.uk

For more information about Operation Christmas Child, their website is: http://www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk/

The deadline for handing in shoeboxes is Friday 18th November at 10am.

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Vici
Satellite Sites Officer
email: v.royle@guild.bham.ac.uk
twitter: @GuildSSO

A promising year


I’m Vici and I’m the Satellite Sites Officer (SSO). I’m a third year Drama student studying at the Selly Oak Campus. I ran to be Satellite Sites Officer because I felt under-represented at the Guild, being a student who spends most of her time away from the main Edgbaston campus. Publicity did not reach even the Selly Oak campus and satellite sites were rarely referred to in open forums. Representation is one of two points I ran with for my campaign and something that will be continually worked upon and reported on during my term as SSO.

Equally as important, the other policy I ran with was improving the Selly Shuttle (and transport between the main campus and satellite sites altogether). Having already had a short meeting with a member of staff at the Selly Oak campus who deals with the shuttle’s organisation, I now understand the ways in which I could improve the service for students who currently use the shuttle and for students who want to but don’t know when or where it runs from and to.

It is too early in the meeting stage to disclose what could be done as I don’t want to make promises that I can’t keep. I can, however, say that I will be speaking to the appropriate people about signposting and making the shuttle stops more obvious to students who don’t know about the service. Timetables are currently on the screens in the OLRC on the Selly Oak Campus, and available online, but I feel more can be done to improve publicity so more students can benefit from the service. This is also something I am looking into and developing on.

Referring back to representation, during campaign week I had a meeting with the President, Treasurer and Secretary of the Shakespeare Institute Players, based on the Stratford-Upon-Avon Shakespeare Institute campus. They told me in depth about issues they were experiencing with the Guild of Students and spoke of a lack of contact, even saying there was no discourse between the Guild and the Institute in order to have any relationship, negative or positive. They appreciated my visit and requested that, should I be elected, I return to see how they were getting on and to talk to them about resolving the problems. I’m thankful that I received such support from the students at the Institute and will strive to strengthen the bond between the Guild and them, to set an example for future SSO candidates.

Considering I was officially elected on Monday and today is Wednesday, watch this space for a promising year for satellite sites students at the University of Birmingham!

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Vici
Satellite Sites Officer
email: v.royle@guild.bham.ac.uk
twitter: @GuildSSO

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