Annual Student Meeting 2018 | Officer Reports
Published: 6th December 2018, 4:13pm
President of the Students' Union
President of Education
President of Wellbeing and Diversity
Mature and Postgraduate
Chairs of School
Art, Design and Computer Sciences
Humanities, Religion and Philosophy
Languages and Linguistics
Performance and Media Production
Psychological & Social Sciences and Law
Mature student meet-up and a Postgraduate student meet-up – It’s valuable that we support all our students at YSJ and to only identify a need for the largest representative group at the University, which is the general UG 18-21-year olds would be ignorant of us. By creating a space for these two groups to meet up and discuss their issues it allows us to understand what we can do better as a Union, but it also provides an opportunity for students to meet up and discuss with individuals that have the same experiences as them.
CEO recruitment – Some of you may be aware but our Chief Executive, Chris Bateman is leaving after 8 long years supporting and leading the growth of the Union here at YSJ. His last final day is the 31st of October, but he made the team and board aware back in mid-August. Since then as Chair of the Trustee Board I have been leading on the recruitment of our new CEO. This involves the outreach and hiring of an external agent to support this process, advertising and pushing the role itself to the relevant networks, organising and facilitating interviews with the relevant stake holders and the external agents. I am happy to announce that by Friday the 26th of October this project will be completed, and we shall have appointed a new CEO, hopefully ready to start sometime early 2019.
Black History Month – I have worked with Annie-Marie who is a senior lecturer in the school of Humanities, Religion and Philosophy to create a whole series of events for Black History Month this year. We have put on a Movie Event Night every Sunday for the month of October, plus a BHM Acoustic Music Night on Thursday the 25th to celebrate Black Excellence in music. Finally, the University have launched a literary exhibition in the library celebrating black writers through our time which is now open, and there is a guest lecture by Frederick Douglass on Monday the 29th of October at 14:00 in DG/123 to finish off the month.
Varsity – Clash of the Minsters 2018 was yet again another HUGE success! This year it was an extremely tight deadline as the academic year started a week later this year, giving us only 1 week of sport trials before the tickets went on sale. Safe to say it was close, but a big thanks to all the Captains of the terms who competed as the whole day was a brilliant achievement. The overall score was 42-39 and too close for comfort in my eyes! If you want to see more details check my blog here - https://ysjsu.com/news/article/varsity_overview
Governing body meetings – Like I said previously I sit on several sub-committees for the Governing Body and early October is when all my meetings are crammed into one sitting! I sat on Foundation Committee, People’s Committee, Finance and Capital Development Committee, Governance and Nominations Committee AND the Chancellor Selection Committee. Safe to say I’ve been around but don’t worry I won’t bore you with the details. Anything that comes from these meetings I’ll keep you the students informed.
Gender neutral toilets – As part of an Executive Council motion last year it was decided by the LGBTQ+ Officer at the time that we needed to have more Gender Neutral toilets in the SU. I started this project in summer, working the with academic school of ADC and the design programmes to launch a competition for a single student to design our new toilet signs. Melissa Kendrick was the successful winner of the competition and now we are working collectively together with the technicians in design to create these new signs and better support our student population at YSJ.
York Student and York Council Forum – Last year I worked with the Wellbeing and Community Officer at York University Students’ Union to launch an initiative to tackle several issues within the City of York community. I am pleased to announce that this forum has been given its first meeting date which will be November the 29th. This forum covers a wide spectrum of areas that outline student life both at YSJ, York University and Askham Bryan College. All updates from said meeting will be pushed to you guys once it’s taken place, but all the work Liv has been doing in your housing feedback comes into play with this forum, so thank you again!
POC (Pres On Campus) – Following on from the success of my campaign last year I will be relaunching the POC initiative at the start of November, giving students a platform to not only engage with their SU outside of the building, but also I will be gathering feedback on certain areas of YSJ life that they want to change/improve on.
Mental health agenda – This will be addressed and looked at in more detail at the very start of January to see what next steps need to be taken following the work that has been done over semester one.
Sustainability and ‘Greener’ campaigns – I am attending a Sustainability Summit on Wednesday the 31st of October, organised by NUS. My concepts and objectives currently sit around updating the recycling situation on campus but following said event I should have a greater insight. I will most likely have an updated objective list that I can present verbally at the meeting.
Printing – I have been working with the DVC: Learning & Teaching to investigate the cost of printing and the feasibility of reducing the amount of printing on campus and the hidden costs printing incurs for students. The work is ongoing and will hopefully have a positive impact on students’ perceptions of value for money. The hope is that announcements can be made before the end of 1st Semester.
Principles of Partnership – After having my proposal approved by Learning & Teaching Committee, I have since met with the Learning & Teaching Lead who wants to work with me on the project. I have also met with the University Secretary to discuss overall student engagement, possible future projects, and how we can promote an image of partnership to prospective students.
After reviewing the interviews carried out during the rep review I plan to start the ‘Principles of Partnership’ project by facilitating discussions between staff and students about whether there is a community of staff and students at YSJ and how students/staff define it. After working out the YSJ-specific definition of ‘community’ I plan to use that as a foundation for future work.
Timetable – I have been working with the President of Wellbeing and Diversity, linking up my objective of combatting late lectures with the objective of student safety and street lighting. More details of this project can be found in Olivia’s (PWD) Impact Report.
HEAR promotion & collaboration – Over recent months, I have worked with the Student Opportunities Manager and the Careers team to work on promoting the HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Report) to current students. This has involved planning out campaigns (such as ‘Become a HEARo’) and including the HEAR in events and activities run by the SU. The first stage of this was carrying out a keynote presentation at the Annual Sports & Societies Conference. This was met with enthusiasm from students and the hope is that by continuing to work with the Careers team, we can help increase the amount of students accessing their HEAR account.
Battle of the Schools – As part of the Summer In December week, run by the Careers team, I am planning a ‘Battle of the Schools’ competition which will run in conjunction with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Each school will enter a team, consisting of eight students, and they will complete a marketing challenge involving a final pitch of their idea. The winners of the event will get the option to have their CV read over by the recruitment team at Enterprise or get fast-tracked through the application process for the Graduate Intern scheme. This event will be a great opportunity to show to students that graduate internships are open to all courses – not just business.
Life after graduation – Around March time, the SU and the Careers team plan to work together to run a Life After Graduation campaign where we will work with the local council, estate agents and the ILE team to run workshops and create resources that can help students once they’ve left YSJ.
BAAL Conference 2018 – Over the summer I volunteered with members of the Linguistics Society at the British Association of Applied Linguistics Annual Conference. It was a great event to get involved in and it was great to chat to students about how volunteering at that event could help with future employment (i.e. transferable skills) and further study.
QAA: Quality Matters – Last Wednesday the Student Voice manager and I went to Manchester for the ‘Quality Matters’ conference run by QAA. It was a great event filled with lots of useful workshops and examples of best practice which can be replicated at York St John. It was also a great opportunity to meet members of the QAA student panel which will be really useful contacts for the future.
Chairs of School
Summer training – Over the summer Chairs of School completed two days of training – one day for Executive Council and another for Chairs of School specific training. It was an engaging and successful two days. My thanks goes out to the Staff Development team as they provided many helpful resources for the sessions.
Setting objectives – During their most recent 1-2-1 meetings the Chairs of School set their objectives for the year ahead. Below are the following objectives for each Chair:
ADC: Create more opportunities for collaboration across subjects in the School.
BUSINESS: Increase the level of engagement of reps across the School.
EDUCATION: Create a database of placement opportunities for non-ITE students.
HEALTH SCIENCES: Create a buddy system for students whilst on placement.
HUMANITIES: Create/improve current buddy system/peer support work carried out in School.
LANGUAGES & LINGUISTICS: Focus on supporting and signposting different mental health/wellbeing services for students and staff.
PERFORMANCE: Improve communication between departments in School.
PSYCHOLOGICAL & SOCIAL SCIENCES: Work with Study Development and ALL team to promote referencing workshops.
SPORT: Improve and increase engagement with the rep system.
Study Development Workshop – Two weeks ago, the Chairs of School assisted with a Study Development workshop which was focused on ‘Transitioning to University’. It was very well attended and was an engaging workshop to be a part of. Student feedback was positive, so the hope is that the SU and the Study Development team can continue to work together on projects moving forward.
TSEP insights – Before Christmas, The Student Engagement Partnership (TSEP) will be posting an ‘Insights’ article written about the ‘evolution’ of our representation system at York St John. This will be an exciting chance for our work to be recognised nationally.
SEDA/TSEP – Continuing from our strong relationship with TSEP, the Student Voice Co-ordinator and I will be working with the PedRIO research group in Portsmouth to provide a case study for Academic Rep engagement and training for Sabbatical Officers. It will be a great project to be involved in and will hopefully strengthen the reputation of the university and union.
Learning & Teaching
Academic tutoring – I recently met with the Head of Student Services and members of the Learning and Teaching team to discuss an idea to include Mental Health awareness training as part of Academic Tutor roles. We are currently in discussions about what methods could work best and are open to ideas.
Learning & Teaching leads – I am currently exploring the idea of pairing Learning & Teaching leads of schools with the corresponding Chairs of School. I think this would help create opportunities for collaborations between staff and students.
Tools for Schools pack – As part of the Rep Review completed in the summer, I have created resources for staff teams who engage with the rep system. The Tools for Schools pack has been reviewed by university staff and adjusts have been made. The hope is that this pack will help empower staff to engage with the rep system. We are aiming to have the resources pack published by the end of this week (w/c 29th October).
Education Zone – The first Education Zone of the year will take place 2nd November in Temple Hall. We hope to match last year’s attendance of around 110 students. The topic of the first Ed Zone will be ‘Transitions and Timetable’. Thank you to Jim Irving and the timetable team for their help providing questions and insight into the processes linked to timetable.
Once the Education Zone has been completed, the feedback will be passed on to the relevant staff teams.
Safety – Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working with University staff to improve the current standards we in have in place when it comes to student safety.
Several students from sports and societies have come to me expressing their concern about members walking back from Haxby Road, sometimes alone, after their training session. I have brought up this concern to the University and asked if something can be done to resolve this safety concern.
I am pleased to say that from the 1st November all students who are part of a sport, society and a member of the WellU Program, will be able to use the Number 1 bus service for free. The bus service stops right outside University and goes all the way to Haxby Road. The service runs up until 11:30pm and fits in well with all your training times. All you must do is, pay for your ticket on the evening and then come into the SU the day after. With your ticket, and claim you refund.
I am aware that societies don’t use the facilities up at Haxby Road as much as sports teams, however this service would allow societies to go and get use out of the space up there.
If we find that a lot of students start using the bus service we will begin to work with the University to create more sustainable, permanent service.
Online housing map – One of my main aims, taken from my manifesto, is to set up an online housing feedback map. This will be where a YSJ student only, can open the map and see where all the student houses that are occupied by a YSJ student are located. When a student clicks on the house it will come up with feedback from a previous student tenant and how they found living there. This has now been made and will be launched middle of November, the survey will continue to be live for more students to review their current or previous house.
Street lighting – After attending an All About Respect bystander training myself and Steph are doing a joint project around student safety. When asking students how they felt about the current streetlights in York, 75% said they were poor and because of this they do not feel safe walking back to their accommodation. I will be working with Steph, University staff and the council to try and improve the streetlighting in and around York, particularly in areas where are students are living.
All of my work around housing will be presented at the York Housing Forum.
Plastic-less SU and water bottles – I am extremely happy to say that the SU is now a plastic free building. After working with the operations and events team we are no longer selling single-use plastic water bottles, students are encouraged to ask the bar staff to fill their bottle up from the tap. The plastic cups used on busy nights, such as pound a pint, are now bio-degradable along with the straws.
I am working with the university marketing team to design a York St John University and Union water bottle, this will be the first merchandise with the new logo branded on. The bottle is scheduled to be launched in January and will be the first mechanise with the new university branding on.
Because I am aware that students have not been consulted on what the new university branding will be. I have organised focus group for Liberation officers, chairs of schools, sports, societies and academic reps; to get the chance to speak to the University branding team. To find out the reason of the change and, the background behind the brand.
Heads-Up campaign – Instead of several small campaigns around student wellbeing I have decided to do a year long, monthly campaign- Heads Up.
The idea behind this campaign is to highlight a common student concern or wellbeing issue that is relevant to that month, at the side of this there will be an activity for students to get involved with-making sure they have a positive start to the new month. October kicked off the start of my heads-up campaign, the focus was around student wellbeing and the support the Union and University offer. WellU activators led the stand, speaking to students about the WellU programme and encouraging students to take leaflets and flyers of the wellbeing services at the university. The activity for the month was dogs, this was a success. We found more students coming into the SU to stroke the dogs, allowing us to approach students and ask about how they are settling into university and if they need any further support.
The next heads up campaign is on 1st November. The topic is around mature, post graduate and community students, and how we can support and help them whilst at university. I have arranged for Lush to come in and help students make their own bath bombs and face masks, as the activity for the month.
WellU programme – This year I have changed the design and concept of the WellU programme and made it more of a wellbeing programme than just a sports programme. New activities and sessions such as mindfulness, blind football and time to talk have been added to the programme, to encourage more students to get involved.
Currently, we have 960 students who have signed up for the WellU programme, with an average of 115 students taking part in the sessions each week. I am now working with Cathy, the WellU Graduate Intern, to gather qualitive data from students to find out if the WellU is improving their mental and physical wellbeing; and how the programme can further be improved.
Zones – On Tuesday 2nd October I held the first student experience zone, the topic for discussion was university accommodation. At the zone the cost, facilities and location for all university accommodations was discussed. I invited Emma and Sue to come to the end of the accommodation zone, so students could speak to them directly about any problems or concerns they are having. Students welcomed this opportunity and felt like their voices had been listened too. It was also a great opportunity for Sue and Emma to ask direct questions to students. After each zone I will be doing a VLOG outlining to all students; what was discussed, what are the actions and when the next zone is.
The next zone is on Tuesday 27th November. This zone is about gathering student feedback on the university catering outlets on campus, the manager of Sodexo is invited to this, giving students the chance to raise their opinions.
No report recieved.
Supporting Sports and Societies – In the past we have been contacted by students with disabilities, asking whether it would be possible for them to join a sports club/society, and whether their needs could be accommodated. I would like to get in contact with sport/society captains/presidents to find out how confident they would be in accommodating various needs, what experience they have with it, and how we could help them to do this.
Contact – It can be very difficult to engage with students with disabilities, often they don’t consider themselves disabled, particularly given the nature of the more common types of disabilities in students at YSJ, such as Dyslexia. When collecting feedback last year, the drop-in sessions and surveys weren’t well attended/completed, so my aim is to continue to try and engage with students to ensure their voices are heard.
Effective implementation of Learning Support Plans – The most common theme that became apparent at the Disability Elephant in the Room meeting last year was the lack of implementation of Learning Support Plans. The feedback was generally very positive, with students feeling that YSJ is really inclusive. However, although many people felt that the disability support is great, and were really proactive when creating the LSP, this information was not often fed through to the lecturers meaning the additional support was not in place in some circumstances. Many students said they didn’t feel confident in asking for this support to be put in place. I would like to ensure information is fed from LSPs to lecturers, but also to make sure students are aware of who to contact etc, if they would like more information, or help accessing this support.
Activities so far – I’ve arranged and am in the process of arranging meetings with the other liberation officers to work on my manifesto pledge to work with them on an intersectional basis.
Officer contact – I intend to set up a separate Facebook account for my role so that students can contact me with any problems or suggestions, to facilitate my manifesto pledge to listen to students so I can hopefully help resolve any problems they are facing.
Contact with LGBTQ+ Society – I also intend to contact the LGBTQ society committee (as I’m not a member due to not wanting to take on too much, and finding large social occasions difficult) to set up a meeting and see how I can work with them, particularly on my manifesto commitment to marking important dates in the LGBTQ calendar.
LGBTQ+ library resources - The library currently has trial access to an LGBT Magazine Archive, which is coming to an end. I spoke to Clare McCluskey-Dean, one of the librarians, and she explained that an application for funding has gone into the university for permanent access from January. They already have plenty of academics backing the application, but I’m going to send Clare a supporting email before the end of term to explain the importance of it from the perspective of LGBTQ students. If funding isn’t granted, I will be looking into avenues for protesting that, as I feel it’s a vital resource.
Menstrual product bins - I will be contacting the university to look into the possibility of menstrual product bins being placed in men’s toilets. This already happens in some other universities, and can reduce distress and inconvenience for trans students at a time that already increases dysphoria.
Wellbeing and mental health - One of my manifesto pledges was “Work with the Wellbeing service and other mental health provision in the university and SU to highlight how LGBTQ+ people are more vulnerable to mental ill health than the general population.” I want to meet with the other liberation officers first before I pursue this, as I know LGBTQ folks aren’t the only liberation group disproportionally affected by mental ill health and I feel reviewing the inclusiveness of the university’s mental health support may be best done as a group project. I’m most definitely not saying that things are not good already, just that there will always be room for improvement.
Mature and Postgraduate Officer
Activities so far – Attended all mature student meet ups; created email group for mature/postgrad; students; assigned committee member roles for mature society
Mature Student Society – Currently working on creating a Mature Student Society. Committee roles have been assigned and, on Wednesday 7th November, society fee will be confirmed etc. Also, currently liaising with companies who offer ghost walks around York for our first November social. Plans underway with social sec to get a Christmas themed social event into the calendar.
Mature/Postgrad events – I intend to keep attending the coffee mornings and will speak to all there about any issues/ideas etc. I will attend any events aimed at mature, post grad, research developers or commuting students and invite anyone interested to the email group where communication of ideas happens.
Kids creche/Kids club - To deposit older kids who are off school for school holidays etc, just for the odd hour or two whilst attending lectures. One student has said how both partners are students and are having to draw lots as to who misses their lecture to look after the kids.
Mature student hangout/area - Somewhere to go and meet up with others in between lectures etc
One thing that might be useful for mature students, is either parking permits, or for the university to work with the council to enable mature students living outside of the city of York council boundary to access the Minster parking permit, which allows discount parking for residents and free evening parking at certain car parks.
Admissions - Something else that might be helpful for future applicants is to look at admissions. One student found it impossible to apply via UCAS because they had an existing degree and ended up applying through clearing 3 weeks before term started. Perhaps Admissions can look at alternative ways for mature students applying without the hassle of ucas.
Campus food – Every food outlet should have a £1 sandwich option like Greggs where you can get a plain small bread bun with ham, cheese, or egg for £1 or a small pot of tomato pasta for a £1.
Quad – The front of the main quad building is too dark when you come out of the main doors on a night, unless they forgot to turn the lights on.
Park and Ride – The number of students using the park and ride makes me wonder if we should approach York park and ride and get one of the buses to have a pick up and drop off outside the ILS on the main street near the Costa. It would improve safety for us walking across town in the dark.
Chair of School of Art, Design and Computer Science
Meetings – Since my last meeting I have been in contact with subject directors, and Head of School, we are meeting soon. I am also in discussions about sitting on programme panels in the next couple of weeks. I have been in contact with students with feedback and a couple changes have already been made in my class to make students feel more comfortable.
Academic Reps – I really want all my reps to know who I am and feel that they can talk to me about University life. I have had students come up to me and say ‘hi’ so this is a great start. Along with students messaging me and asking for help etc. I have got Social media platforms for students to reach me and I have introduced myself to them all. I also helped Steph with the ‘know your rep’ campaign. I am enjoying getting involved in the different campaigns ran through the Student Union. An aim of mine is to make sure I have engaged reps. We are a small school but I want all voices to be heard and lots of changes to be made. I already know from some staff changes that this has made students a lot happier and this is something I want to continue. Their feedback is the most important and will help make their courses the best they can be.
Student Engagement – One of my aims is to help combine the subjects within ADC and create a space for ADC students to make friends and help each other. I have arranged a Christmas Social as a start to this combination but also I am looking at a big event in the new year that all ADC students can participate in.
Academic Board – I am now also a part of the ‘Academic Board’ along with Steph Foxton were we discussed ongoing issues within the University. It was great to get an insight on the opinions of other members of the board.
Chair of School of Business
Achievements and Aims – So far I have achieved a couple of things, I have liaised with Katy from L&T about some of the aims that we both have for the year so far especially in the area of student and rep engagement as it is an area we both want to improve within the school. We also arranged a notice board of which I now have the key for within De Grey which I will be able to put up information for reps as well as just the stuff that I am doing to try and improve the student experience with in the business school. Talking with Rebecca Biggins on Tuesday, we are also planning on getting a post box next to my notice board in which students will be able to put any feedback on how we can improve their student experience and if there is any changes that would like to be made to the school. In terms of trying to get student and rep involvement increased, that is still a works in progress however, it is slowly improving as I recently put out an email to all the course leaders within business to see about rep elections or to see whether that the list I and the SU had was the same list that they had and in that sense we got a few more reps listed. After talking with Hannah we both set an aim of roughly getting 30 students to be reps at the business school and I think at the current moment we are at about 17-18 students so it about 60% of the target. I am hoping to get more reps elected towards the 30 target but any number that is closer to the 30 target is progress.
Business Society – One thing that wasn’t neces