Hello all, and congratulations to all of you who have just finished your exams. It sure has been a hell of an assessment season, and we hope that you're going to take time now to relax, recharge, and get ready for the upcoming semester.
We have been working behind the scenes to represent you and support you through this challenging time. We're so excited that, together, we obtained a full refund for students in University-owned accommodation for the lockdown period. Freya and I are now working with the University, Bath Spa University and Students' Union to write a joint letter to HMO landlords asking for leniency and flexibility over contracts for students who have not been able to return to Bath.
Below is a quick rundown of what I've been up to over the past week:
No Detriment: We are aware that the measures the University has proposed have not gone as far as you wished they had. The measures that have been put in place are the result of the collective lobbying of our student body, and we are monitoring the situation closely to make sure what has been agreed by the University is actually supportive and mitigates the impact of Covid on you and your academic performance. There is only one way to know this, and that is by enabling a swift analysis of exam results to analyse how exams went, particularly looking at attainment gaps for key demographics of students that have been put at significant disadvantage because of Covid. Ultimately, we are here to represent you and we continue to listen to you and your concerns. We have also had a conversation with Senior Management about what No Detriment in Semester 2 could look like.
Elections: Officers Elections are coming up, which is so so exciting! All six positions are up for grabs, and nominations will open on Monday. If you're interested in running, please look up any information on thesubath.com/elections - particularly if you'd be interested in the President or Activities Officer positions, please do get in touch with me as I'd love to talk to you about it! Aside from that, I've been working on getting funding for an environmental campaign to be tied to the voting process, which is well exciting!
Top Ten - Gender Identity Policy: This piece of work is coming along really well and I am grateful for all the different stakeholders that are giving time and dedication to this important work to improve inclusivity of our transgender community at University. This week, I have met with a Business Partner in Human Resources and, alongside the chair of the SU LGBT+ group, have met with the Chief Executive of Sport England to talk about inclusivity in sport and inclusive facilities. The main hurdles to overcome are gender neutral facilities, and I am in conversations with the Chief Operating Officer to get funding to convert existing facilities to gender neutral ones.
Top Ten - Sustainable Investments: Whilst a lot of environmental work has been put on hold because of Covid, we are still making headway on our Investments Top Ten. I've been working with the Department of Estates and the Climate Action Framework staff around this, and am looking into a partnership with SOS-UK on key investment demands to the University. This involves investing at least 10% of our endowment in sustainable investments such as renewable energy, use our current shareholdings to advance environmental stances in AGMs, and create a new framework for investment managers so that future investments are environmentally sound and do not give money to the fossil fuel industry.
Student Voice Framework: This is an important piece of work and I'm excited to be a part of it - working with SU and University staff, we're looking at representation mechanisms and how student engagement must be done across the board. Time and again, you are asked to give feedback to dozens of surveys and participate in endless focus groups, only for that resource and your opinions to be lost or not taken into account. We believe that students must be meaningfully engaged early in decision-making, and that's what we're setting out to do in this group.
Student Experience Project Team: This week, I've raised concerns about communications to students, volunteering for the vaccination programme, the length of the academic year, and ensuring the campus operation during the upcoming summer integrates students as staff members - so many of our students have been left without jobs and very little support in terms of furlough, and offering job opportunities will be key to support them in the future.
CEO Recruitment: We are in the process of recruiting the new Chief Executive Officer of the Students' Union - as Chair of the Board of Trustees, I am leading this process and have been busy liaising with HR, our external recruitment partner, and staff to make sure the process flows smoothly. The final interviews will be next Wednesday and it will involve students, staff, and officers. Needless to say, I am very very excited about all of this.
The Edge: You should be aware by now that The SU has overtaken a significant proportion of the operation of the Edge building since last summer. This is a unique opportunity to create a student-let arts hub on our campus, where activities are created by students, and for students. Tom Sawko and myself have met with the Vice-President Student Experience and the Chief Operating Officer to present our vision for the future of this building, and student activity within it. For the Edge OGs, this is some very sweet news - for years we have been battling to make sure students even had some space to freely use within the Edge, against significant commercial demands. Now we must and we will seize the opportunity to offer students the space to grow and develop via the arts.
It's been a tough but rewarding week - I am excited for what comes next but also particularly excited about this weekend.
I hope you're doing well, wherever you are. Your Officer Team is here for you and we will keep fighting for what students need and deserve.
Stay safe, stay awesome,
Franci, your SU President