The Students' Union Presidents Team
Your Presidents' Team has been working hard to represent the student community to all levels of UWE Bristol. Check out this update from each of them with their progress in October.
It has been a month full of engagement as I have been interacting with our new students through welcome talks, Q&As, programme level induction sessions and international students’ orientation. I had the pleasure of delivering a speech at the Virtual Graduation ceremony, and I also introduced the six Block Zero themes with members of the University to the student community.
Our first Virtual Freshers’ Fair was a success, and we were proud to have enabled a meaningful connection between our new and returning students and provide them with further information about our services. Though our building is now open, not all students are present on-site, and I will be having monthly feedback/Q&A sessions as an effective way to hear directly from our students and represent their voice. I will continue to work with University staff, to address concerns raised and improve our communication to students on various matters.
The second episode of ‘A Year in Conversation with Augusta’ is now live on The Students’ Union YouTube Channel. In this edition, I talk to Radha Balani, Director of Design and Facilitation at Beyond Sports. Radha’s career within sport, business, international development and her personal experiences bring to light some of the prevalent issues within the industry and provides a unique perspective for our staff and students.
As part of the Celebrating Black Excellence campaign running throughout the year, raising money was an important aspect to support some of the great work done locally. I have chosen a Bristol-based charity organisation called ‘Bristol Black Carers’ who focus on providing culturally appropriate support and services to Black and minority ethnic carers in Bristol. Please check out the campaign webpage to find donation details.
Other areas I am working on include student employability and a partnership project on assessment and feedback, learning communities and mental health inequalities.
It has been a delightful first four weeks of Welcome, and with an academic year like no other, it is really important that students are aware of the support and opportunities at The Students’ Union. Induction talks, social media, Q&A sessions and the Freshers’ Fair have all been good avenues to highlight the amazing things that we can offer to students.
In celebration of our Black Excellence Campaign, I had the pleasure of leading a panel discussion titled ‘Decolonising the UWE curriculum’. The key takeout for me was, rather than continuing to operate within inequitable power structures, decolonising the curriculum seeks to address inequalities and uses education as a tool for liberation and transformation. For this to happen, I truly believe that we need to move away from constant conversations to actions, ownership, accountability and transparency.
In my own capacity as VP Education, I have committed to launching a campaign titled ‘Decolonising my UWE curriculum’. This campaign puts an emphasis on students being the co-creators of their reading list, you can find out more information here.
I am also working in partnership with the library team on the UWE Zine competition, which will focus on decolonising the curriculum, you can learn more about this here.
But I need you! I need everyone at UWE Bristol and within the community to champion these and more change.
I hope you are all keeping well and looking after yourselves and loved ones. In the past month, The Students’ Union has worked tirelessly in organising and planning for Freshers’ Fair, Block Zero and Welcome, together with UWE Bristol.
It is paramount that we welcome and support students as they settle into the academic year, especially in light of the current situation with Covid. Engaging with students will give us an understanding of their expectations for this year and how we can manage those expectations throughout the year.
To give a recap, last year, The Students’ Union developed an accommodation website in partnership with Studentpad. Recently we held a meeting to review how the engagement has been with students. The engagement has been positive, and we are looking at how we can get more landlords advertising their properties on the website.
There has also been a discussion on the Accommodation Fair, which is due to be held later in the year. It is key that we have a good number of properties on the website, as we expect a higher number of students beginning their courses in January. If you have links to landlords with student properties, please encourage them to advertise on the Studentpad website.
This month has been filled with lots of planning for Freshers’ Fair, and the launch of our Celebrating Black Excellence campaign, which is taking place throughout this academic year. Personally, I intend on lots of collaborations with other universities.
One of the first collaborations is taking place on Wednesday 21 October, with the University of Swansea Students' Union, and will see us hold a virtual debate night, which is part of Celebrating Black Excellence. I will also be launching my language exchange, as well as our art exhibition competition, which will also be part of the campaign.
I am delighted to say that Freshers’ Fair and our open day were great. We had a lot of engagement from students, and we had a high turn on the Presidents’ virtual stand and interest from students.
In October, we had our Virtual Freshers’ Fair. The fair was held on the app Whova, and so far we have had a whopping 60,000 visits and 12,000 messages sent. During the fair, sports clubs and societies had their chance to showcase what they can offer to students, and were able to answer any questions.
Sports teams also had their committee training session, and we briefed the new captains and presidents on the current guidelines. In these briefings, we urged them to communicate with their fellow club members and to respect the measures put in place by the Government and UWE Bristol, to ensure a safe university experience.
The Presidents Team has also had meetings with Minds of People of Colour, which is an organisation that offers support to sabbatical officers of BAME descent. The organisation aims to help officers achieve more for the BAME community during their year in office. In these meetings, we discussed tackling the attainment gap and the lack of engagement from BAME students. These areas seem to have a link with mental health issues within these communities, so it is key that we work on these.
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