This blog was written on 14/11 but due to an IT issue could not be uploaded
It is now the Christmas holidays for many and this is probably my last blog of 2012!
It has been a very successful first semester, I have made two satellite site visits, amended a motion to try and improve the distribution of student media at satellite sites and been in touch with staff at all of the satellite sites in order to try and arrange more visits. There have been two guild council meetings this term, both of which I attended and it was great to see satellite site students getting involved as guild councillors and running in other elections. Hopefully this is something we will see even more of next semester!
I have spoken to a large number of students over the past few weeks about their issues with London Midland. Many satellite site students live in or around Selly Oak yet study elsewhere (e.g. the school of dentistry). These students depend heavily upon the train links between University and Birmingham New Street. The issues with this train service this term have directly impacted on a large number of students and in response, I have contacted the Guild President about these issues. On Wednesday (12/12/2012), the president published a letter to London Midland on the guild website (http://www.guildofstudents.com/articles/letter-dear-london-midland) highlighting the issues many students are facing. This is a good start and I will be keeping a close eye on this matter and will keep everyone updated.
Next term sees the nominations open for next academic year’s officer team! Nominations will be open on 14th January and will close on 4th February. It would be great to see satellite site students getting involved and more information will be posted on the Guild website closer to the time.
That’s all for this year! I hope everyone enjoys their Christmas and is ready for another great year!
I have to admit, I haven’t made a huge amount of impact or dramatic speeches in the last month. I’ve just been preparing to hand over to the lovely new SSO when mid-June comes around. This year (or half year) I’ve been making sure all the notes and paperwork have been kept organised. All my Guild Council notes are in a folder ready to hand over for thrilling perusing and the epic SSO Black and Red notebook will also be bestowed upon Adam for his information, along with a large explanation for what is incomplete work (for good reason) and what is potential to be developed. I’m quite looking forward to our eventual handover meeting so I can talk about what I’ve done and hopefully realise that actually I’ve made a big change. I believe I have.
Having finished my dissertation in four days (I do not recommend this… well, if I get a good mark, I do), I relocated to Stratford-upon-Avon to work for the RSC for a bit of work experience (go me!) and many people will know that this is the lovely location of the Shakespeare Institute. I talk about it enough, if any reader of this here blog doesn’t know that then I do sympathise with your memory trouble. In one of my breaks, I shot off to Starbucks (other coffee and beverage shops are available – I’ve heard Costa are alright, too) for a boost of energy and I was spotted by John, the treasurer of the Institute Players. Not only did he recognise me but he remembered that I mentioned I’d be here for a while, too. We had a good catch up and went on with our lives. So, what I’m getting it is that it’s a lovely thing when an Officer does their job. The easiest way to see if that’s the case is to pick some students out and see if they recognise their Officers. At that test, I won! Good times. …this test does not apply to all officers, that would just be silly and would undermine the behind-closed-doors work that most of them do.
I intend to write a summary-of-the-year type post at some point when I get back to Birmingham and have my beloved SSO notebook again. You should look forward to that. It’s really edge-of-seat stuff!
And congrats to Owen for winning the tea and biscuit I promised for anyone who actually reads my blog. As he was the only one who mentioned anything to me, I can justifiably say anything on here as no one would read it. Huzzah!
Peace out, beautiful people… person.
Satellite Sites Officer
Admittedly, this will be an incredibly empty post. It being the final couple of months of my degree, I’ve been (and still am) very busy with tieing up loose ends and finishing the final projects. This includes my dissertation.
One of the boards I sit on is SRSAB (Student Rep System Advisary Board) which reviews the student rep system and tries to make it more effective by suggesting various things from training the members of staff involved to greater publicity around all campuses. The main topic of conversation on the board last time was online media. I argued that Facebook and Twitter, but moreso the former, are not good tools to use when ‘business’ is involved. I regard the student rep system as business. It’s certainly not a casual social thing. As seen from the online Guild Better Forums, Facebook is not an effective platform to discuss issues. The reasons for this are countless but hopefully if you’ve found your way to my blog you’ll be familiar with them.
Last year, the University trialed a ‘My Student Rep’ features on my.bham which didn’t get utilised as hoped. To move to Facebook would not be a natural progression. Thankfully, my ideas were taken on board and rather than actively encouraging reps to use Facebook as a means to carry out their communications, we are happy to advocate it as an option given that it is used professionally. Obviously there are issues with accessibility but as each student rep is a representative of a small group (relatively), hopefully they will understand which method of communication is better. For example, the rep at the Shakespeare Institute can communicate in meetings and the small community in Stratford means that students discuss issues with each other without a problem. Drama students prefer to speak to their rep on Facebook because they all know each other in a similar way to those in Stratford. For a group of people who don’t necessarily know each other and just recognise faces from lectures, I don’t agree with Facebook being the place for serious chat.
If anyone wants to find out more about student reps or see who their student reps are, speak to the friendly staff in Student Voice. Student Voice is in the Guild on the same corridor as Subway.
Satellite Sites Officer
Last Thursday, I took several Guild Officers to Stratford-upon-Avon to visit the lovely people of the Shakespeare Institute. This was the result of several months of planning and moving things around in diaries. To make the visit effective, I asked the SI student rep to raise the proposed visit at their meeting, as well as speaking to other students. Eventually I got a list of officers they thought would be beneficial to speak to. I managed to get all but three, due to work commitments (Kelly has a degree to do, Emily is extremely busy with her degree also and Mark was in Nottingham on business).
So, off to Stratford skipped myself, Adam (SSO-elect), Noorie (International Students Officer), Dan (LGBTQ Officer), Fliss (VP Activities and Development) and Hugo (VP Democracy and Resources). We offered mini eggs and biscuits and the chance to discuss anything with the Guild Officers. Whilst I’ve visited the Shakespeare Institute many times before and Adam had a meeting there during the elections fortnight, it was interesting to see the reactions of the officers who were previously oblivious to the differences of living and studying at Birmingham but outside of main campus. Many action points were made, several of which have already been completed.
This was the first time in several years that the Officer Team has reached out to the Shakespeare Institute and I have high hopes for Adam from July to keep in touch with all the satellite sites and encourage the next officer team to continue the excellent relationship that now exists between the Guild and them. Several students commented on the efforts made by myself this year which made particularly the attending sabbatical officers realise how important, and rewarding, it is to engage with Hard to Reach students. Maybe some time in the future we’ll even get a student from the Shakespeare Institute running in the elections? Or attending Guild Council? They’re very passionate people, I see no reason why they wouldn’t be encouraged to get more involved.
As it’s the Easter/Spring vacation period, I’m offering a ‘hidden easter egg’ treat. Anyone who emails me to let me know they’ve read this post will receive a box of tea and a biscuit. Offer ends when I re-locate to Stratford on May 6th (unless, of course, you’re located in Stratford in which case enjoy an extended offer until June 10th).
Satellite Sites Officer
I just wanted to include a note to say that voting has closed and the Officer Team elect stands as:
President – David Franklin
Vice President (Democracy and Resources) – Leander Jones
Vice President (Activities and Development) – Ollie Cosentino
Vice President (Education) – Simon Furse
Vice President (Housing and Community) – James Robertson
Vice President (Sport) – James Hughes
Vice President (Welfare) – Katherine East
Anti-Racism Anti-Fascism Officer – Hannah Skolnick
Community Action Officer – Sean Farmelo
Disabled Students’ Officer – Amy Connelly
Ethical & Environmental Officer – Alice Swift
Ethnic Minority Students’ Officer – Sacha Hassan
Home Students’ Officer – Joe Sewell
International Students’ Officer – Saara Pokki
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer Students’ Officer – Rachel Foreman
Satellite Sites Officer – Adam Smith (most importantly, for those reading this blog)
Women’s Officer – Kristina Ilieva
I also want to make clear the the current Officer team are still in office until the new lot take over in early July. Queries should still go to the current officer team and we won’t work any less just because we have a new team awaiting.