Wow! What a time in office it has been! I cannot believe that this time last year I talked myself into running for the Students’ Union Elections as a full-time Officer, and one year later I’ve conquered all my aims and objectives and I am moving on to focus on my career in Web Development.
Here’s a summary of the campaigns I have launched during 2019/20. Remember if you would like to do what I did for a year or two, please think about standing in the upcoming Students’ Union Elections!
Societies are my passion and my main objectives were shaped by my experience as a Society Committee Member and Chair of the Societies Federation at BSU. Some of my achievements include:
Online training for Societies Committee Members: After delivering face-to-face training for years, I introduced an online training platform which is tailored to each committee role and provides students with certificates based on the modules they complete, enhancing their employability skills and making the learning experience more accessible.
Society Development Meetings: I worked with the Societies Team to review the accessibility and relevance of the Society Annual General Meeting (AGM). I redeveloped a more tailored process for the new Society Committee Members to meet the Societies Team and plan events for their year ahead. The new one-to-one Society Development Meetings will start after the upcoming Society Elections, with the new cohort of committee members.
The Societies Review: Following the restructure of the AGM, I expanded to review the whole Societies Policy and the existing function and purpose of SocFed. With the help of the SocFed elected reps, a new, clear and inclusive policy was formed, as well as guidelines, which passed through Trustee Board in January 2020. Societies now have a strong representative structure in the form of the Societies Association Officers and an annual review cycle of all society resources such as The Union Awards, Accreditation Scheme and the Society webpages.
Society Drop-Ins: I relaunched the Society Drop-In campaign this year, providing opportunities for in-person support with training and event planning and development, on their campus. This campaign was supported by the fantastic Societies Team, who helped me ensure the presence of society support at least once a month for every campus.
Resources Sharing: As a joint campaign for societies and sustainability, I launched a new shared resources scheme for our societies to borrow items for events that they host, to save buying and throwing away reusable products. These cupboards are supported by an online catalogue to view quantity and location and should continue to grow as more items are donated!
Union Awards: This year is the launch of FOUR NEW society-focused Union Awards, a huge increase from the historic single Society of the Year Award. This will hopefully enable recognition of a wider range of successful Society Committee Members and provide a more inclusive range of awards.
The new awards are: ‘New Society of the Year’, ‘Society Fundraiser of the Year’, ‘Improved Society of the Year’ and ‘Society Event of the Year’.
Societies and Sports
Custom Stash Campaign: Following feedback from students in both societies and sports clubs about how expensive ordering personalised stash can be, I organised a bulk order of custom stash for the clubs in advance of ReFreshers Fair, to try and enable students to get more affordable custom gear. This was a great success with loads of societies and clubs getting involved, and the stash included hoodies, t-shirts, leggings and joggers.
Free Parking for Societies and Sports: With the new Parking facility on campus this year, the officers worked super-hard to campaign for free parking for all students. Although the battle against the cost was won, students still needed to qualify for a parking permit. For some students, they were unable to qualify against the university criteria but still needed to park on campus for the society meetings, sports training, or attending the gym. We secured free parking permits for our members who are attending meetings, training or working out.
The Sport Review: As part of a larger project with SportBrighton, I have spent a large portion of the year reviewing the provisions that both Brighton Students’ Union and SportBrighton offer the Sports Clubs and have kick-started the creation of a clear Sports Club Development structure to encompass student feedback at the highest level. With the help of the SportsFed elected reps, a new, clear and inclusive representative structure is being formed, which will provide the provision for an annual review cycle of all sport club resources such as Varsity, Sports Awards, training and the Sport Clubs webpages.
Access to Sport Hardship Fund: To expand on the work achieved on The Sports Review, I have also been actively working to establish an Access to Sport Hardship Fund to be managed by the Joint Sports Board. We have successfully managed to secure £1,500 of funding from Santander to launch this initiative, although the details about the eligibility to apply and application process are still in development. I am sure my successor will be passionate about continuing to see this through!
Varsity: Varsity 2020 is very much on the way, with more spectators, games and tickets as promised! This year, the programme has been condensed into fewer days to try and encourage more cross-sport support. In the future, students will feedback via the SportsFed Reps who will shape the Varsity scene!
This Student Can: This year BSU and SportBrighton launched the first EVER 'This Student Can' Campaign which aims to encourage all students, regardless of age, gender, religion or ethnicity, to get involved in trying out something sporty! Both weeks in November ‘19 and February ‘20 were a great success, with pop-up Table Tennis being the favourite!
Rainbow Laces: In November I teamed up with the LGBTQ+ Officer; CJ Crawshaw and SportBrighton to support the Stonewall Rainbow Laces Campaign. There was active participation from a range of sports clubs and all proceeds went to Stonewall.
This year saw the re-launch of the Eastbourne RAG Team who have now taken the reigns on Dance Rivals, an annual competition between sports clubs to fundraise for the Chelsea Society and Chelsea’s Children Camp. The event was held on the 22nd February and was, as usual, a brilliant success!
Brighton RAG remained active on campus, hosting a variety of fundraising events for local and national causes, as well as supporting the officers with a Movember Campaign!
Climate Change Declaration: After months of hard work, I was delighted that the University of Brighton declared a Climate Change Emergency, which is a big step in the right direction for the planet, and for the future of our students. This next step in the sustainability journey is ensuring that the University make practical steps to reduce their carbon footprint and continue to better the environment.
Disposable Product surcharge: This year we also implemented a disposable product surcharge in all of Brighton Students’ Union venues to try and encourage our customers to eat-in and waste less.
UniZone Petition: Student feedback said that the existing UniZone ticket (discount train ticket) was not inclusive and inaccessible for all students, and therefore a petition has been launched to lobby Southern Rail to reconsider the pricing structure, eligibility and reach of the UniZone ticket.
Varley Park Bus Access: Students’ and Coldean-resident’s feedback acknowledge the need for a bus stop to be placed on campus that is accessible for Brighton and Hove buses, to avoid the need for students to gather in the residential streets late in the evening. In order for buses to make it on to Varley Park, the main road needs adjusting, which has been an ongoing project for the past 6 months. Please see a more detailed update here.
Fossil Fuel Divestment Declaration: After six months of hard work I am pleased to be able to announce that the request for the University to sign the Fossil Fuel Divestment Declaration successfully passed the University's Finance and Infrastructure Committee and I was assured on the 29th January 2020 by a member of the University Senior management that this will now be taken to the next Board of Governors meeting in April where hopefully it will pass with flying colours! Please see a more detailed update here.
Big Brighton Beach Clean: By teaming up with Bucks Students’ Union, we arranged a Beach Clean on Brighton seafront for the 15th Feb 2020. Unfortunately, due to Storm Dennis, we had to postpone to the 29th February 2020, but I am pleased that the event is set to be a success, not only for our environment but also for our community.
This role really was an experience I will never forget; I’ve been lucky to be allowed to represent the University of Brighton students. If you are thinking about standing as an Officer – please feel free to reach out and I’ll be happy to answer any questions!