Zain Choudhry reflects on past year as President

My time in office is coming to an end very soon, so I would like to first of all thank every student who has encouraged, supported and assisted in all the work I have personally been involved with during my Presidency. From the launch and organisation of the 'I Am Bristol: A City United Against Islamophobia' campaign back in November to setting up the brand new BME Students Network platform which will be up and running before my term ends.

We have achieved some amazing things this year which will come into effect for the next academic year; lobbying the university to freeze the cost of rent for the next academic year, agreement to work towards providing all students free printing, the introduction of a Relaxation Room, and we have started the ball rolling for a new proposed ‘Faith Hub’.

We also launched some exciting and award winning campaigns such as the Global Majority Campaign where we celebrated other ethnic minority backgrounds and showcased successes and contributions of a range of public figures. This was done as part of the more traditional Black History Month. The 'I Am Bristol – A City United Against Islamophobia’ campaign was perhaps the most personally significant as it was a passion of mine to combat Islamophobia. Our society can at times be a place of hostility through constant propaganda and deception by mainstream media and indeed by those who we have interacted with in our daily lives. This campaign united those students and members of Bristol’s public to combat hate crimes in the most positive way possible; it was an example given to the rest of society, both locally and nationally, that regardless of who you are, when faced with injustices, we stand together in solidarity.

This year has been an absolute testament of the activism shown by fellow BME students here at UWE. It showed that those students who typically would not have been engaged found reasons and sourced passion and inspiration from within themselves to step up and take the lead. It has been my absolute pleasure to have been part of each of your journeys.

We carried this momentum forward when students and members of the public stood in solidarity for those who fell victim to the tragic events of Grenfell Tower back in February, honouring one of the victims in our International Women’s Week line up; 11 year-old Firdaws Hashim. It is essential that The Students’ Union has an active role to play not only on our campuses but also in the Bristol community.

Last but not least I would like to thank my team; Jamie, Sian, Erin and Bahkai. Without your dedication and commitment none of the activities we got involved with together would have been possible. The ethos, respect and loyalty of our team was unbreakable; it gave me the joy of serving alongside passionate and dedicated leaders, helping take The Students’ Union from strength to strength.

To all those who voted for me to be your President in last year’s elections; I say thank you, from the depths of my heart. I will take the memories you have given me and will cherish them. Protect these values and build on them, as will I as I enter back into the world of full-time studies to complete my degree.

I’d like to end with a personal favourite quote of mine, hope it plays of benefit to you, too:

“Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe to be a beautiful place.” – Kurt Vonnegut