Welcome, thanks, and lockdown – VP Wellbeing and Community Term 1 Blog
I know it’s almost February and the first term seems a long time away, but this blog was written in December 2020 as part of the sabbatical team effort to be transparent and accountable on our activity and report back to the student community on the work that we do on your behalf. As most of you know, this is my second year as a sabb (short for sabbatical officer or student representative), so most of my work has been a continuation of campaigns that started last academic year, and I am now much more familiar with the University structure and decision-making process. My work at the union is focused on developing my manifesto objectives (as they were the goals by which I was elected by the student body to work towards), and although my work is focused on campaigning and lobbying for students wellbeing, most of my time is also taken with committee attendance with University staff and senior management and strategic and governance development of the postgraduate student union (GSA). That is why, if I had to highlight three key areas of work from September to December, these would be:
- Launching student financial support campaign: Funding4all
- Disseminating the Decolonising UoY SUs Vision
- Developing Student Minds SUs partnership
To keep it short, I would like to bullet-point some of the key outcomes of each area of work, but if you are interesting in knowing more about a particular area, or you would like me to focus on something, please don’t hesitate to write me to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Launched #Funding4all campaign with a series of blogs, videoblogs, ambassadors calls and livestreams to inform students of my proposal to tackle challenges to access funding at university.
- Gathered students’ views and support through a live questionnaire with 100 responses!
- Reinstated weekly contingency financial meetings with University Finance Team and student representatives to raise students concerns regarding ESSF and others
- Lobbied the VC for a centralised Student Financial Assistance Contingency group and currently working on an Open Letter with a series of short-term demands.
- Took part of diverse funding decisions such as the launch of the PGR continuation year support fund or the Student Project Funds.
Decolonising UoY SUs Vision
- Published the students vision of what a decolonised University would look like after a year of work gathering students perspectives in 2019/2020
- Presented the vision to the university community at the ILTA steering committee and diverse University forums such as Campus Cohesion Committee, Equality Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Race Equality Coordination Group.
- Attended Decolonising in practice national conference in order to keep up with work done in this area nationally by other student leaders
- Become a member of new university initiatives such as the Decolonising and diversifying the curriculum working group and coordinated YUSU and GSA sabbs to work towards implementing and actioning the vision.
Student Minds GSA partnership
- Bid for University funds in order to allow the GSA to inscribe and take part of the Student Minds Student Unions partnership, which allows the union to develop a mental health strategy, to have access to diverse training opportunities for sabbs, staff and volunteers, and to develop our own framework.
- Have taken part of diverse networking events with other student leaders across the country, developing strategies and ideas to improve student wellbeing and access to mental health services.
Other areas of work
Other areas of work that have been developed simultaneously have been:
- Created the Sexual Harassment Cultural Change Group to coordinate students views and perspective, with diverse PTOs and student groups taking part, as well as both student unions.
- Meet regularly with the Conduct and Respect Team in order to work towards a more accessible and comprehensive university response to bullying and harassment, overlooking matters arising such as consent training and frequent student concerns regarding the report system.
- Contributed to the University development of the new Disabilities Awareness Training for uni staff and overview of building accessibility on campus.
- Coordinated with University Students Wellbeing, YUSU and Unity Health in order to identify key issues students face in accessing the health service in York.
- Launched and promoted the new Drug harm reduction campaign in partnership with Neurosight, YUSU and University of York.
- Increased union communications by creating introduction videos for the different areas of the union, taking part on departmental inductions, creating representational newsletters with sabbs updates, taking interviews with YSTV, increasing GSA presence in university comms and coordinating rapid responses such as the GSA support during lockdown 2 restrictions blog
- Hosted, coordinate and planed the National Postgraduate Conference at York
- Attended different meetings with student leaders in the sector such as the Postgraduate Officers National Call to coordinate postgraduate campaigns across the country, the PGR pandemics national call, the NUS students deserve better campaign launch, SMaRTeN campaign for PGRs mental health, or the Unis against border controls event on continuation fees.
- Invested in the internal development of the union, by taking part of PTO’s trainings, elections promotion, development of the GSA Networks guidance, different bids to increase PG employability by offering interns positions, and created the GSA Council Welfare sub-group.
- Coordinated several events related to my area of work such as GSA Black History Month, GSA Disabilities History Month, Wellbeing Forums, Coffee with the sabbs, GSA sports provision, Accessival or PGR ask me anything.
- Attended several committees relevant for my role such as the Student Live Contingency Group, which overviews student support through lockdown, on areas such as: student accommodation, services for students in isolation, students ambassadors roles, wellbeing support, security provision on campus, etc. Test Track and Trace: where I worked with the University towards increasing local and national testing capacity, working with CYC, and others.