A week ago I had a meeting with John Heath, one of the Pro-Vice Chancellors of the University. Sitting in were also Hugo (the VPDR) and Caroline Radnor (the Sustainable Travel Coordinator). The aim of this meeting was to communicate the need for a bus stop (possibly two) on the main Edgbaston campus to encourage more students to use the three shuttle buses. As the Satellite Sites Officer, my main concern was with Route C, the Selly Shuttle that runs between the Barber Institute on main campus and an access point on the Selly Oak campus. Without this shuttle, some students would not be able to attend lectures, classes and seminars or use the library and IT services in the OLRC.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get my bus stop. What I did get, however, was the (loose) promise of an all-student email (yes, to 28,000 students) advertising each shuttle, their stops and their timetables. I was also told of the possibility of sticking a virtual bus stop on the UoB Student App (available for Android and iPhone – Blackberry on its way) as well as a timetable as a pdf document. It was also suggested that a bundle of timetables would be distributed to the OLRC on the Selly Oak campus and in the Arts Building on main campus (as many who study at the Arts building also study on the Selly Oak campus). I wasn’t particularly pleased with the latter suggestion as my point was that not enough students know of or use the shuttle and it could benefit so many more people. To distribute the timetables doesn’t really do anything: whoever knows about the shuttle will seek out a timetable, whoever doesn’t know about it will not do anything and will ignore timetables for things they do not know about. I was told to ‘be nice’ and acknowledge that even the simplest of ideas turn out to never be that simple. I can understand that but when I have a limited amount of time to serve Satellite Sites Students and a short meeting with a PVC, I very much took a bit of an Alan Sugar approach and was polite but firm with my requirements.
The reason I didn’t get a yes for the bus stop was buried under planning permission reasons. With the works that are underway particularly on the route of the Selly shuttle, it wasn’t possible (or rather, it would have been too much work for the University – sigh) to put a bus stop where I wanted it. There were also issues surrounding the Barber being a heritage building, which I can understand a little more. This definitely won’t be the end to this crusade. The app and the distribution of timetables are a start but this is not quite up to standard for what I wanted to achieve.
A comment made by John Heath was that even if I got a bus stop sorted, I couldn’t claim it as my win because it would take a couple of years. I’m not entirely sure he saw the point, there. Yes, it was one of my manifesto points so I’d like to tick it off as an ‘I promised and delivered’ thing but I’m more concerned about actually getting the job done in the first place. I’m not all that bothered about shouting that I did it: I just want people to know that it was done. There’s a definite difference.
The chat about transport didn’t end there. As we’d used up only 20 minutes of the hour slot I was scheduled, I raised more issues that I’d found during campaigning:
- Vale to Medical > make it safer to walk or add it onto the shuttle route
- Dental Students > it’s in the centre of town! Give them a discounted/free travel card
- Shakespeare Institute > help them get their minibus back to allow them easier access to not just other campuses (including Edgbaston campus for the Guild) but also for educational field trips and the like
- Shakespeare Institute > visa issues for international students who study in Stratford but have to come to the Aston Webb for a 10 minute meeting about visa troubles
I’m happy to say most of the above was either agreed on or came to a happy compromise or further action point for research. Hugo seemed flabbergasted at the amount of issues Satellite Sites Students have.
Now the Sabb team (or at the very least Hugo) are at least aware that Satellite Sites students should be recognised and heard because they face problems those who study on Edgbaston Campus just don’t understand. I’m shouting as loud as I can about how the Guild should be looking after their needs, too, and will continue to do my job.
Another of my manifesto points was to bring the Guild to satellite sites. By this I meant that some services are portable and the Sabb team are indeed very portable so can travel away from their beloved offices. I invited the whole Officer Team to watch third year Drama students in ‘East Lynne’ at the Selly Oak campus. Mark, the President, and Hugo, the VPDR, managed to make the effort with others sending their apologies as they’d already made plans (I was a little late with the invite). Two days prior, I’d found all the Sabbs and most of the non-sabbs to write a small good luck message to both the cast and the production team which I presented to them on the night. Little things like this really do make a difference and I was able to explain to the other officers that the production is completely student-run with third years acting and doing the most important jobs backstage, second years helping with backstage aspects such a sound, lighting, costume, stage management, props and set and the first years doing all the running around and hard graft jobs. Each production is always of a stellar quality: a very enjoyable experience for the students involved and for the audience. And, of course, it counts towards their final degree mark. Mark and Hugo both enjoyed it, with Mark noting the night as his first visit to a satellite site (and certainly not the last!). Watch this space for the Officers visiting again for ‘Dostoyevsky’s Heroines’ in February!
As always, I’m happy to receive comments, complaints or concerns about satellite sites and can be contacted by email or twitter as below.
That leaves me with only the joy of wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a safe, relaxing holiday! Here’s hoping for snow…