What. A. Semester! As an SU we’ve had our heads in and out of a LOT and frankly, it’s hard to know where to start with giving you this update. We’ve been so amazed by the work of our students in providing feedback, being flexible with the changing landscape and for approaching things with optimism in what’s been a not-so-optimistic year. For this update, we wanted to look at the whole semester and hopefully give you a brief(ish) overview of some of the big things we’ve been working on.
Tom (Sport Officer)
“During a semester where the opportunities for in-person sport have been at an all-time low, I've actually been super busy! Here's some of what I've been up to:
Board of Trustees
As a member of the Board of Trustees, looking at the short-term strategic direction of the SU has been so important. The finance and Audit committee (which I chair) have met regularly to better understand our financial position throughout this time of great change and uncertainty, and act when necessary.
‘Project Fun’ has been such an important part of the SU’s short term direction during the pandemic. It’s involved us working hard with Senior Management at various levels of the University to increase the opportunities for everyone to get some enjoyment outside of their studies. Some of the things included in this has been the East Village and STV Marquee Sports Bar, and we’re looking forward to seeing what comes of this in Semester 2.
You’d think because sports has been limited for a majority of the semester that I would have been pretty quiet on this front but you’d be wrong! Recently, SU Sport have been looking at ways to continue to support sporting activities during lockdown including exercise buddies, equipment rental and different ways to engage with students throughout lockdown. This has been heavily supported by my FAB EXEC – who have been helping me on this amongst other projects such as Bath Active and Volunteer Recognition.
We’ve also been focusing a lot on making the return to sport as flexible as possible, including trialling the all-sport membership, assisting clubs in creating a blended approach to training and socials, ensuring facilities can be made available for longer to ensure more people have access to sport and secured space in our new space in Oldfield Park. This will host the replacement for Sulis, with Taekwondo, Boxing and Kickboxing training there, as well as a Cuesports room!
In the press
I’ve also been cropping up in all sorts of places recently. The University is looking at a new strategy for sport session and I’ve been heavily involved in ensuring the breadth of opportunities are highlighted, not just those for our elite, dual-career athletes.
I’ve also been presenting Lightning Talks, featured in the South West Peer Support Conference, written articles for WonkHe, and been interviewed on BBC Points West about HE sport and how its shifted as a result of Covid!“
Freya (Community Officer)
“I don't even know where to start because there is so much great stuff happening right now that I could write three essays covering it all but just to give a bit of an overview of some of the bits I have been working on over the last few weeks:
Think before you Ink
I’ve been working closely with Bath Spa SU on Think Before you Ink campaign to encourage students to think before signing housing contracts for the next academic year too early. . With uncertain times its more important than ever that students take time to make these decisions, weigh up what they want from their house, give Freshers more opportunities to choose their housemates and find the house right for them.
Learning and working on strategy
This job is so far stretching, and it is really nice to be involved with different parts of work and learn new skills. I have been working with others in the SU on a standpoint document that will outline some of the SUs views on certain issues across the key areas. This has also involved looking at policies that we have in place taht are no longer fit for purpose. I have also been working with Ben, our student voice coordinator, to develop the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy and collect feedback from some of our Trustees to shape it to the best it can be before presenting to the Board of Trustees.
Covid and Holidays!
I have been part of the Happy Holidays working group arranging plans to shape what activity will be happening for students who remain in Bath over the holiday period. I have also hosted a Q and A with Franci for international students answering all things covid and testing, and the recording of this is available on the SU website. And I even faced my fears of being in front of the camera and participated in the filming of the covid testing site overview for the University”
Francesco (SU President)
As we approach Christmas, I look back and there are so many things we all should be incredibly proud of, and whilst I'm really excited about the holidays that are coming so soon, I'm ready to recharge and be ready to come back for the second half of this strange academic year. Over the past few weeks, here's some of the key things I've been up to:
Over the semester, I have set up and coordinated a University-wide group to enact a Transgender Policy at the University, for all of our University community. Trends nationally show that non-cisgender students, and particularly transgender students, are significantly more likely to be subject to verbal or physical abuse within University, from fellow students but also from staff members. This leads to scarily low levels of mental health, and has also shown to have impact on students' attainment. The University could and should be doing more to support its transgender students in their journey through University, which can be achieved by a sound policy. This should not only cover the high-level statements of equality and support, but also the practical steps that need to be in place to support them appropriately. This is at the beginning stages, but so much work is already underway with key student involvement, and I am confident we will achieve results really, really soon.
I have begun working on and looked for funding for a campaign centred around harm reduction on substance abuse, coupled with the provision of drug testing kits at the University. I have written a project brief for it and will work with the University to make sure this can happen, and signals so far from the University have been really positive. This should make some very necessary steps to ensure that campus is as safe as it possible can be.
Income support for isolating students
Have worked with the University to increase the level of support for our students in part-time employment, in zero-hours contracts, who have to isolate either because they are showing symptoms, or because one of their housemates do. Together with Student Services, I have worked on a Fast-Track Income Replacement, which has been approved to the University. This is an important win for students who rely on part-time employment to make ends meet.
Annie (Education Officer)
It's been a crazy first semester with lots of different challenges but it has been so incredibly rewarding getting to work with the Academic Exec and Academic Reps to help and support you all. Each week is extremely different, one of the perks of this job, and this has meant that I've been able to work on things such as the no detriment policy and assessment measures, national issues such as the government announcing the student travel window and #justiceforeducation campaign, holding the university to account regarding the mental health provisions and support for students with disabilities, supporting work with in person events such as pumpkin carving and being a Governor of the university. Here are a few of the things I've been working on more recently:
Academic Reps and Academic Exec
I have been working with our Academic Reps who have been doing a fantastic job in their SSLCs so far making sure the student voice is heard and contributing to the implementation of some brilliant changes. We’ve also had our first Academic Exec meeting where we addressed some key issues happening within learning and teaching. It has been great to work so closely with the Academic Exec team this semester, they have been working incredibly hard to make sure your views are represented at a faculty/school level. I can’t wait to see what semester 2 brings!
Since starting this role one of my key priorities has been to lobby the university to support students during the pandemic and ensure that your assessment results are not negatively impacted due to measures beyond your control. After several lengthy discussions in a variety of different meetings, it is reassuring to see the university has taken on board some of our suggestions and introduced measures to support students. I am carrying on the work alongside Academic Reps and Academic Exec to identify key areas that further support is needed. I will be continuing to lobby the university to implement measures that allow students to be granted an extension of seven calendar days without the need to present any evidence, across all departments of the University.
Semester 2’s ‘Bath Blend’
Over the summer we saw the creation of ‘The Bath Blend’, which is a flipped classroom approach to teaching in response to the pandemic. During the semester there have been several moments where we identified aspects that were going well such as LOIL sessions and other aspects such IPT, in some areas, that needed some improvement. I worked closely with the Faculty / School reps ensuring that changes were made through student consolation and then implemented and reviewed. I’ve also been in discussions with Senior Management around what has and hasn’t worked regarding the Bath Blend, as we planned for Semester 2 and began to scenario plan for what the next academic year could look like.
Fritz (Postgraduate Officer)
This semester we have made some great headway within the postgraduate community, particularly with regards to issues affecting the Doctoral Community. This has been of particular importance to me as I know first-hand a lot of the issues Doctoral students face and I'm therefore fully committed to finding solutions for these:
Following the national restrictions guidance, The Gov advises research students should carry out their research at home if possible. Therefore, we are calling on the University to evaluate sthe workstation conditions of doctoral students working from home. This should allow them to
UKRI Covid Support Scheme
Working with the University to raise the concerns of non-final years PGR students who are worried about the limitations of the recent Phase 2 UKRI COVID support scheme.
Postgraduates Who Teach
I've been working with UCU to ensure PGWTs (Postgraduates Who Teach) have a good experience and support from the University. We ran a PGWT survey for doctoral students, which provided useful feedback for UCU and The SU to work together on key issues.