Breathalysers at the Guild of Students???? What????

Some of you will have heard the rumour that the Guild of Students is banning Pre-drinks or banning fun by having breathalysers at the entrance to Fab.

This is not true… Yes there will be some breathalysers at Fab. But they are not there to ban fun or to stop you from coming in!

They will be used in two ways. The first as a way for people to understand how much alcohol correlates to what percentage blood alcohol volume (how many Micrograms per 100 ml). The second as an objective means by which security staff can assess the level of intoxication an attendee is.

I’m sure you have questions. So I will try to answer them. If I don’t feel free to get in touch with me at VPW@guild.bham.ac.uk

Why??
Why are we doing this scheme? Primarily to reduce the number of students who become victims of violent crime whilst being under the influence of alcohol. This is a police initiative designed to lower crime in the local area. This has been trialed in other areas and students’ unions around the country with great success. What we hope to do to tackle this is to educate students as to how much they are under the influence, the risk associated and we hope that this will mean that when people leave an event at the Guild they are aware enough of their surroundings to not walk home alone and to return home safely.

Secondly, the objective is to measure an individuals level of intoxication. We’ve all been stood behind that person in the queue who hasn’t been let in because they’ve been stumbling and are waaaaaay too drunk. Only to hear them protest that all they’ve had to drink is a glass of wine or a beer. Using a breathalyser gives an objective judgement not dependent on the opinion of security staff as to whether or not someone is too drunk to be allowed in.

If an individual really has only had one beer, they will blow a low blood alcohol level and there is the possibility that they may be able to get in.
 
How?? 

How is this going to work in practice?

The first two/three weeks we will have people stood just inside the entrance offering students the chance to take a breathalyser test.

We’ll ask people to predict where they are and then get them to take a test. This will just be an opportunity for people to check how drunk they are and to get some facts about different levels of intoxication.

After the initial 3 week period we will be moving one of the breathalysers, to be used by the door staff managing the queue and we will select people at random (1 in every 100) to blow into it.

The aim of this is to let people know what level they are at before arriving at an event so that they can balance their alcohol intake throughout the night. It will also be an opportunity for the security staff to assess people’s intoxication level when deciding on letting them in.
 
What??

What is the point?
I’ve covered this a little in the Why section. But to give you some context this scheme was trialled for an 8 week period in other areas, leading to a 32% reduction in violent crime in the area and a 66% reduction in drunk and disorderly calls the police received. It also will allow the Guild as a venue to review its policy in relation to other similar establishments. We will be tracking the levels of intoxication, the majority of people and noting down their age and sex in order to create a benchmark at which we no longer allow people into the venue.
 
Where??

Where will this be happening?
Finally, this scheme has already been rolled out across Broad Street and from this weekend will be used in the majority of the bars and pubs in Selly oak. The aim is that over the next 8 weeks we will see a reduction in violent crime and drunk and disorderly conduct in Selly oak

Who Is that guy??

With Welcome week in less than a week, I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you all about my LOVE for Freshers Week and Welcome Week. This will be my 4th time being a part of Fresher fest, and my 3rd in a responsible role of some kind. In my first year Freshers Fest was a two week long plan of nights out, I took this as a sign that I should be at everyone and I went out every night for the first 16 nights I was at university, and quite frankly I regretted it! After those 16 days I was exhausted, I hadn’t eaten properly, slept properly, I’d missed lots of my course introduction lectures and I hadn’t really made real friends with anyone because lets face it, when you’re on a night out its pretty hard to make a connection with someone other than “You live in Elgar…. I live in Elgar…Wheeeeyyyy” In short it was a mistake to force myself out all 16 nights.

SO, Advice from me to First years. Listen to your body!! it knows better than you do what it can handle. If your tired, stay in, meet your flat or neighbors or course mates. Make sure you take a few days off. Its not essential that you are at every night. You won’t miss a life changing event if you take the night off and catch up on your sleep.

After I’d recovered and gotten on with the year I ran to be an RA for my hall. This was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, not least because it led me to my second year of being involved in freshers fest. As an RA you serve as the first point of contact for your new residents and you will feel incredibly protective of them. This is good!! Embrace this. You will be a font of knowledge for the first years, even things you think of as minor or not important will be of real value to your residents.

My third year of fresher’s fest was as a member of fresher’s fest crew. This is where I really got into the processes of fresher’s fest. What seems simple and straightforward from the consumer end is really a mesh of many different services all working together to provide a fantastic experience for first year students. As fresher’s fest crew I saw how the venues department; prepares, executes and evaluates the night time package of events. And it is not a straightforward process, but it is so worth it when you see people enjoying themselves on the night!

And finally; this year. Already this year I have learnt more about Fresher’s Fest than all the previous years combined, and it hasn’t even started yet! First of all fresher’s fest is part of a much bigger event. WELCOME WEEK. Welcome week also consists of all the day time events, fresher’s fairs, societies fair, sports fair, events run by the mentors and induction lectures. If I thought that fresher’s fest was complex Welcome week is 10 times more complex. But within welcome week are some really fantastic events that it’s easy to miss out on if you just focus on fresher’s fest.

First Fortnight

This is the first blog I’m writing as your new Vice President (welfare). We’re about a week and half in and what a week and a half its been!
I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many new people, build some really good relationships and spend longer than i’d like to admit getting to grips with the phone system.

Overall though its been a good fun all round. I’ve not had the chance to get my teeth really stuck into anything yet, but I’ve been learning the language and floating some ideas of what I want to get sorted this year.

As a reminder my manifesto points are 1) Organise some better daytime, non alcohol centered, events during welcome week. 2) Bring back SHAG week, bigger, better and more inclusive than ever. 3) Get an online resource where welfare advice, services, info and processes can be collated and made easier to use.

As the next few weeks progress I’ve got lots of exciting meetings and planning sessions lined up including; freshers fest, welcome week and mentor training. Keep up to date on what I’m doing by following this blog, checking my facebook or following me on twitter.

Homes Fit For Study Launch

So last week myself and the Vice President Housing and Community (Dave Charles) went down to London for the launch of the NUS’s new piece of research into Homes Fit For Study. The sample size wasn’t fantastic but I would describe the outcomes as shocking yet expected. Speaking broadly a huge number of students, it seems, would rather put on multiple coats than make the dangerous move of turning the heating on. It would appear that not until stalagmites are forming from the ceiling do some students relent to putting the heating on. I have been there myself, where every member of the house has a secret electric heater/blanket but no one will take responsibility for switching on the boiler at a great cost.
This living in a cold house has a serious side as well, according to the data around 20% of mental health issues had been exasperated by living conditions. It is perhaps this that student services need to consider when a student comes seeking advice that rather than probing every bit of history they must also consider something a lot closer to home!
It is spring now and we are moving towards warmer weather so we can look forward to vermin if the research is to be believed, Hoorah!

Mo Bro No No

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Rule number 5 on the Movember rules, ‘Each Mo Bro must conduct himself like a true gentleman..’. This just illustrates one of the things I find problematic with the branding of what is a very worthwhile campaign in my opinion.

This is the first year I have chosen to grow some facial hair with the aim of both raising awareness and money for important charities. It has certainly been an experience and I can’t wait to shave it off but I want first to address the issue I have with the branding of the campaign this year. Using words like ‘swift’, ‘silent’ and ‘hairy’ and describing people who take part as ‘real men’ all succeed in creating a hyper-masculine environment. If we are to have some hope in combatting lad culture then it is these sorts messages we need to be careful of sending out. People who choose to grow moustaches in the month of November are not members of my ‘pack’, but simply other people who want to raise awareness about men’s mental health, testicular cancer and prostate cancer. Maybe it would be better to leave all of the ‘Mo Bro’ stuff behind for next year?

Freshers Fest 2013

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With all the excitement and busyness of Welcome Week it is easy to overlook the famous alcoholic element, Freshers Fest. The night time events have come under a lot of pressure and criticism in the last few years, primarily by the University. Issues with it running on the second week when lectures have started being one of the main concerns voiced but it is what Freshers Fest embodies that draws negative opinions. The images promoted in the media of teenagers vomiting in the streets having been away from home for a mere 24 hours but is the actual event we run anything like this?

As Freshers Fest approached certainly the VPHC and myself had a certain apprehension as to what could happen. This is one of the main reasons why I decided to revamp ‘Chill Out’. In the past this welfare service had consisted of a couple of Polar Bears wandering around the club pouring water on people and perhaps directing them towards the ‘Chill Out Room’. These rooms were typically no more chilled out than the club outside, they became a social area for people to chat and the real core reason for ‘Chill Out’ had been some what lost. That’s why I redesigned the service to be about assisting anyone who had misjudged their limits. The fantastic RAs would go around in teams of 2 and have water, biscuits and advice on hand ready to look after any worse-for-wear freshers.
The service was far more effective than I ever could have hoped with Chill Out volunteers going over and above their remit by taking people home to make sure they get back ok.

This attitude of going over and above really reflects the nature of the majority of people who helped deliver one of the most successful Freshers Fests ever.

So I would like to take this moment again to thank the 3 Freshers Fest SAs, 15 Freshers Fest Crew, 70ish RAs and 100ish Volunteers for allowing 3500 Freshers to have the best start to their University lives!

What does Zero Tolerance truly mean?

Zero Tolerance is phrase we seem to hear in life a considerable amount. I’ve no doubt at school there was a zero tolerance attitude to drugs and we only have to look at the news to see stories of airlines implementing ‘zero tolerance to anti-social behaviour’ but what does it actually mean? The difficulty is deciding how to enforce such a policy, is it better to enforce uncharacteristically harsh punishments or perhaps just make an example of minor offences?

On the 5th June 2013 The ‘Zero Tolerance Policy to harassment’ passed through Guild Council and since then it had existed as stapled document on the VPW’s desk. Over this summer I have been considering the best way in which to effectively implement the policy. After several meeting with Venues and the VPDR I have formulated an implementation strategy that I hope will see the policy being incorporated into the membership disciplinary policy and ultimately the rules of The Guild. This building and the external events it runs have always prided themselves as being a ‘safe space’ and on the whole during the day we do rather well but it is during the nightime economy hours(2000 – 0400) that it sometimes forgets this promise. Whether visiting The Guild during the day or night I want every student (and member of staff) to feel safe from any kind of harassment.

From the 23rd September (start of welcome week) venues (both security and bar) will be trained in the policy and examples of what may include harassment including various fancy dress themes which breach this. This will kick off the full roleout including promotion of the policy by the bar staff.

I will blog next week about many other things I’ve been cracking on with but I wanted to let everyone know how excited I am about making the Guild an even safer space to socialise and work in!

#WelfareWin

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Hello All,

So after a month of training I am now officially in office (and have been for nearly 2 weeks). I would firstly like to thank Katherine for a superb handover and a folder I still have not finished reading! I wish her all the best in the tough career of Law.

A little bit about me

I graduated this summer with my degree in sport and exercise sciences after a very fun 3 years here at Birmingham. My involvement in the guild has included both being on the committee for my course and being a senior student staff member for over 2 years.

Training and starting in office

Training really did fly by. On the 9th -11th of June, Dave (VPHC) and myself attended the NUS Welfare and Communities conference in Stafford. This was the most useful part of the training for me. I met many other welfare officers from the country and made a lot of useful contacts to help over the coming year.

Since starting it is safe to say I havn’t stopped. Our team seem to be working together very well and we are already putting plans in motion that will lead to achieving both mandates and our manifestos.

Currently I am working specifically on Mental Health first aid training within the guild, the freshers Welfare Wall Packs, Zero Tolerance training within the guild and of course FRESHERS FEST.

Thats all for now but feel free to contact me!

Jet Lee

(Vice President Welfare)

FIT TO SIT

We’ve done it!!!

Following a University meeting with the PVC Education, the Director of Student Services, a member of Registry, the VPW Elect and I we have agreed a full review of the policy next term and the University have accepted all of my recommendations!

EPIC WIN!!!

April and the Easter Break

Hello lovely peoples!!!

So April has seen the end of the snow and the springing of, well, spring! We also had the Easter break and I hope you’re all well rested and pumped up for revision this term. YOU CAN DO IT!!!

I personally am in support of us getting a puppy room on campus to support you through this difficult time, but after the raging argument the unions had about them on Jiscmail I think I’d need a specific mandate… hint hint.

So what have I been up to in the wonderful position of VPW I hear you cry! Well I shall tell you!

Extenuating Circumstances and Fit to Sit

We have a meeting set up in the diary with some very senior and important people over in the University to discuss the review so I’m currently drafting an updated paper for discussion at that meeting.

Gender Neutral Toilets

Wording has been a nightmare! BUT we’re there, hopefully, so these shall be signed this week and operating and I hope lots of you will use them and feedback to us! They are on the second floor in between the hair dressers and marketing (the old kitchen space).

NIGHTBUSSSS

Oh yes, it’s back and it’s shinnyyyy!!! It ran from fab and friday last term as a trial and I’m currently waiting on some stats as to usage etc. We will be rolling it out for fabs the rest of this term so please send me feedback if you go to fab!

Shortlisting of International work experience bursaries

I was asked to help shortlist and I must say I was incredibly impressed, not only at the quality of the applications but also the innovative work experience placements students are personally sourcing. It’s incredible and I wish we could have given money to everyone!

Planning Gradball

The tickets come out todayyyy!!!! I hope you’re all excited, it’s going to be incredible!

Student Representation

As coursework deadlines pass the VPW inevitably gets more busy with plagiarism meetings, fitness to practice meetings, misconduct meetings and appeal meetings.  We are collating information on these (as always) to make recommendations of codes of practice to the University.

Democracy and Engagement Committee

This was a really good meeting, I think we made some really good choices to improve the democracy and improve engagement with Guild Council. Look forward to this paper at the next Guild Council!

Zero Tolerance and the Cross-Liberation Meeting

I made a presentation of the current state of Zero-Tolerance in the Guild and took recommendations from the liberation groups on harassment relating to the defining characteristics outlined in the policy.

The group’s input was invaluable and the recommendations have now been put into the final briefing document that I am taking to SOG next week and then Guild Council where it will become policy of the Guild.

Crime Safety

As many of you will remember SOG recently put out an appeal to students to take extra care when out and about in the evening as there had been some sexual assaults in the local area. Following my recent campus crime and security meeting it was confirmed by the police that they have arrested someone that they believe to have been involved in those attacks. HOWEVER, I still implore you all to continue taking care in the community, especially in the evening and late at night.

As always, if anyone has any questions please feel free to email me on vpw@guild.bham.ac.uk

Good luck with exams everyone!!

Katherine.