What would you do to improve Education at the University?
While I am running for Activities Officer, education is why so many of us are here and I want students to have the experience they deserve. This past year we have experienced our degrees in a completely different way than any of us could have imagined. Many others and I have had a difficult time navigating this new mode of learning and it has demonstrated a lot of underlying problems. In putting together my priorities I made sure to reach out to students to see what the experience has been like for different courses as we need all voices represented, and I will always do that. I will work with the other officers to lobby for an educational system that removes the burden students are facing, eliminates structural barriers and allows all types of learners to succeed – an all-inclusive educational system, which every student deserves. As Activities Officer I would: Establish effective educational activities to support students’ learning, including increase the number of Academic Societies. We need to make sure every course has a relevant academic society, which is supported by their faculty. I would establish dissertation cafés for both undergraduates and postgraduates so students can gain support in writing their dissertations. These would work as a series of workshops, which include activities and discussions that allows students to enhance their academic skills. Make education accessible for all. I would implement long term no detriment and safety net policies – we need to continue this work so that we have a permanent policy beyond the pandemic. We also need to go back to a timetabling system that does not schedule teaching on Wednesdays, so students have enough time to engage in activities including sport, societies and volunteering. I would make sure all of our students are supported: undergraduates, postgraduates, mature, international, student parents and every single group. We need to tackle the discrimination that exists in corners of our community so all learners can have an amazing experience.
What would you do to improve the Employability of students?
As Activities Officer I would improve the employability package of support. Entering the labour market is difficult. I remember how daunting it was and still is when I began applying for different jobs. I would: Establish a recognized framework that showcases students’ extracurricular work to employers and enables them to build and achieve credits. Students should be able to gain academic credits from the activities they do as learning does not just happen in the classroom. The work experience I had shaped me so much, and did for a lot of others. Create more diverse placement opportunities for students, which enables them to choose from a wider option of work experiences. Implement paid, short term internships for students, including teaching assistant positions. Make sure we have an international employability strategy, to create international study and work abroad opportunities. We also need to urgently work to assist international students with post study work due to visa challenges, which is a real barrier for so many students here. I have had countless conversations with those affected, who will have no choice but to leave when their visa expires and I face a similar fate. I will collaborate with employers, local and regional businesses to embed employability opportunities in the curriculum. Run CV writing workshops and make sure that each academic faculty has a dedicated employability contact. We also need to make sure our employability work is tailored to different students and applies to undergraduates, masters and PhD students as we each have different needs. I will work with the Education Officer to recruit more course reps and increase society membership because the skills we gain from this are so important. We also need to equip students to face the very real challenges and systemic racism that exists in societies. I have faced discrimination in workplaces and have heard from many others who have had the same. Our society has a long way to go, but students need to be empowered to tackle this.
How would you make the Union and the University more Inclusive?
As Activities Officer, I commit to celebrating diversity every single day and tackling systemic racism and discrimination. This includes introducing a cultural celebration day, a university recognized calendar of all religious holidays and observance days and having initiatives focused on Black History, civil rights, International Women’s Day, LGBTQ+ history and all the time. Working with all officers I will improve our menu options to include more halal, kosher and vegan options. I will Improve support for students with additional needs, improve the learning support plan system and the disabled student allowance package, tackle sexual harassment and sexual misconduct through consent training and have regular forums to discuss systemic racism and macroaggressions to ensure the work of the Black Lives Matter movement is embedded in the University and we stamp out all discrimination. I will work with the Education and postgrad officer to tackle the reason why different students from different backgrounds are achieving different results as this comes down to a lack of inclusion and structural barriers.
How would you improve the Welfare of students?
As activities officer I would increase participation in societies, sport, park life and volunteering which are so important to wellbeing, and also create activities that meet the needs of all students, including mature and postgraduates. I would break down barriers to accessing sport by having dedicated kit and additional funding available to students who want to take part. I would also lobby for more funding and space on campus for societies and host mindfulness workshops. I will work with all officers to reduce the wait time for counselling and implement identity based support to normalize help seeking. I would make sure we have a diverse and exciting Freshers’ programme so all students can get involved, and lobby for more entertainment and relaxation spaces on campus. We also need to make current spaces more inclusive and accessible to students with additional needs and disabilities. Accommodation and hardship funding must be urgently addressed because this keeps causing lot of stress for students, so student accommodation costs need to be reviewed, and welfare support needs to be enhanced. I would work with the education and postgrad officer to improve the complaints and mitigating circumstances procedure as this is not working in the student interest, and will also collaborate with them to remove bunched deadlines, decrease the workload and spread out assessments and get timetables released earlier.
How would you improve Communication between the Union and students?
As Activities Officer, I would make sure our activities, events and departments are spread across all of our campuses, so we are not having to travel to access different services and that way students can communicate with us wherever they are. I would host weekly forums with students so they can submit motions and pass them, and work with them directly through grassroots activism. I would get students involved in developing the next strategic plan and deciding what the Union should focus on, and making sure there are clear ways for them to hold me and other officers to account so everything we are doing is fully transparent. I commit to issuing a weekly bulletin so all students are clear on what I am working on, and so they can feedback on this, as well as convening focus groups with societies, course Reps and Sport Brighton to understand all the challenges. I will also do live drop ins on social media and host physical and virtual office hours every week for any of you to access. I want you to lead the work me and the Union are doing.
What qualities or experience do you have that would you make a good full time officer?
I am passionate about improving the student experience, and celebrating the diversity of our student population, which is its greatest strength. Before coming to the University, I was studying at a boarding school in the Middle East and constantly volunteered as a community organizer to tackle system racism and fight for a more just educational system. I am particularly passionate about sustainability. I study Civil Engineering with Construction Management, and I have used my degree to pursue my commitment to building a more sustainable future. I have significant volunteering experience in this area and I believe the University can go further in contributing to this agenda. I have also been at the University for 4 years and during this time I have had an active role in lobbying for the issues students are facing, often taking forward issues on behalf of my cohort. I have been an active member of several societies and heavily involved in Sport Brighton, including serving as the Captain of the Volleyball Team for the past three years. These experiences changed my time at the University, and my life as a whole, in ways I could not have imagined, and I would like every student to have the same opportunities. I know how stressful student life can be, from juggling studies, to jobs, to caring commitments and so many other things in our life, and I want to address this. For the last 4 years I have studied full time while also working part-time to support myself, and we need better financial assistance. In my previous job at Pryzm I have learned to be innovative and constantly worked to tight deadlines, and worked in stressful environments which I will use in this role. I am determined that every aspect of the student experience is improved by achieving the changes you want. I am someone who will always listen, and make sure every voice is respected, understood and championed. I want you to feel heard at all times.