Francesco Masala


SU President (He/Him)

Hey there! I'm Franci (pronounce ‘Franchi’), and I’m your SU President, after having spent a year as the SU Activities Officer. In my time in Bath, I was a Politics and International Relations Student. I am Italian through and through and I have come to the UK in 2014 (cue horrid language mistakes I still make, six years after). 

My time in Bath has been deeply shaped by the SU in a number of ways. I volunteered and worked and joined student groups and spent ungodly amounts of hours sat in a booth in the Plug, drinking coffee and feeling grateful to have the space to meet people and make lasting friendships. 

Hadn’t it been for the Student Theatre society, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now, as it gave me the chance to follow my passion and meet people with the same drive as I did. The SU gave me the chance to be part of a community, and I have relished the opportunity to get more involved ever since. My past year as Activities Officer has been incredible and I’m so excited for the year ahead.

I cannot wait to work with you all this year to make sure your voice is heard and that every student has access to a quality student experience in light of Covid. I am particularly passionate about environmental campaigning, LGBT+ and WP advocacy, and I’m keen to advance those issues throughout this year. 

Updates

  • Fri 23 Apr 2021 14:01

    Hello one and all! I hope you're well and enjoying the sunshine. 

    This is just to give you a quick update on the last week. We have some spicy news for you, but we shall communicate it all on Monday, so stay tuned! 

    A lot of things have happened this week, these are some of the key highlights: 

    Gender Identity Policy

    The draft is out for consultation and will be discussed at the Student Experience Board on Monday. There are still a lot of areas that we need to make progress on but equally so much has been done already, and we're on track to enact the policy before the end of this academic year, which is excellent! 

    Graduations 

    I've been in contact with the University consistently over the past few months investigating the possibility of in-person graduations. I'm so glad to say that the University has communicated that it's doing everything it can to ensure graduations for the classes of 2020 and 2021 can happen in-person. Fingers crossed for you all! 

    Drugs and Harm Reduction

    With a bunch of truly amazing students, I've written a paper for the Council/Senate/Students' Union committee on getting the University to shift its approach on recreational drug use to a harm reduction approach. The paper was welcomed by all members of the committee and a recommendation is going to go to the University Executive to enact all our recommendations. 

    Just a quick one this week! As always, please get in touch with me at supresident@bath.ac.uk if you want to talk about anything. 

    Have a lovely, sunny weekend. 

    Stay fab

    Franci

  • Tue 09 Mar 2021 09:36

    First I want to say a huge congratulations to the incoming Officer team, which was officially elected last week. I also want to note the position of Activities Officer is vacant, and the by-election for this very exciting role will happen later this month and in April. More information can be found on the SU website.

    The elections just gone mean that there are around four months before the end of my term as your Students’ Union President. I’ve had some time to reflect on this last week, as elections were happening. I looked at everything that I set myself out to achieve in my manifesto, what we’ve been able to do together, but also the things that unfortunately will have to wait. Four months do go really quickly and I want to make sure I can be as effective as possible in my last months as your President. I’ve looked at my manifesto, at our priority campaigns, and at everything that has been going on with our response to Covid. These are the key activities I will focus on for the remainder of my time in office.

    Gender Identity Policy: I have been working with some incredible students and staff members to enact a comprehensive and inclusive Gender Identity Policy. There are already so many areas where we’ve made so much progress and I will focus my work to make sure that the policy can be enacted by the time I leave.

    Transparency of Additional Costs: Tom and I have been leading on a project with the University to make the additional costs of the University experience more transparent, and figuring out ways that those costs can be reduced to ensure equity of experience. Students should know the real cost of the University experience, and I want to make sure those figures are published and accessible for current students and applicants.

    Support for Student Staff: One of the key reason I run for office was to improve the experience of those students that struggle financially and that have to work part-time to make ends meet. I have not been able to work on that as much as I wish, and I will make it my mission to dedicate time to support students in part-time work.

    Sustainable Investments: My key environmental proposal this year is to significantly re-shape the University’s investment portfolio and divest from companies that fund the fossil fuel industry, such as Barclays. The University is resisting this change, but we are working together on a new investment policy that will start greening the University’s investments so that it can meet its net zero targets.

    SU Democracy: Since coming into this role, I have so badly wanted to work on re-shaping our SU democracy. This is your Union, and it shouldn’t be the case that you only participate in its working just during elections. I will be working with staff and students to re-build the SU policy mechanism and create a solid structure so that your voice is always heard.

    Harm Reduction Drugs Policy Last but not least, last semester I started working with student services to implement a policy enabling the University and The SU to educate students about safe drug use, an approach called ‘harm reduction’. Whilst this was stalled at the time, we are back on the road now and I am excited to get this done by the end of my term.

    So, that’s it. These are my priorities before I leave office at the end of June and the next Officer team takes over. It’s really quite an ambitious list… so I better crack on! 

  • Fri 26 Feb 2021 14:50

    Watch The Video Here 

    Transcript

    Hello everyone, it’s Franci, your SU President. I want to give you an update on what’s been happening on this side of the lake over the past week. It’s been promising to listen to the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday setting out the roadmap to end restrictions in the UK. As an SU we are all eager to get back to our building, our venues, and re-open fully to support the student experience. We’ve all started working out what the roadmap means for us and we’re starting to plan exciting things for when restrictions start lifting. The University will have communicated what this roadmap means for you as a student, so make sure you keep checking your emails.

    Here are some of the key things I’ve been working on this week. I have attended a meeting of University Council, the University’s governing body, where Annie and I highlighted the current situation with no-detriment, as a governor brought up the petition that over 5000 of you have signed before the winter break. We continue reviewing the situation and we will ensure that we can review no detriment when the results from Semester 1 exams fully come out.

    I have also worked to ensure The SU can continue being a recipient of Santander funding. The SU every year receives £1500 to assign to student activity linked to equality, diversity, and inclusion. With Covid-19 halting our activities, it has been difficult to allocate that money this year, but there are so many exciting projects we’re hearing about from student groups, and knowing we have secured that grant will make sure incredible activities can be funded in the future.

    As an SU, we have been lobbying the University to improve its sustainability credentials in terms of its strategy and operation. We know, however, that we need to get our house in order as well. Looking at next year, we are carefully considering the output and the impact of our print material, be that flyers, office printing, or marketing material, and SU clothing, to make sure that we follow through with the promises we have made with regards to sustainability.

    We have also started looking at induction next year, and what it could look like. This exercise, jointly with the University, involves reviewing data and feedback from the 2020-21 induction period to see what has worked, what can be improved, and particularly what parts of the induction period that had to be altered because of Covid could result in a longer positive impact for students. Recent news mean  that there’s a good chance of induction next year looking more like it was pre-Covid, and that is really exciting. However, we must be prepared for a series of different scenarios, and that’s what we have started doing now.

    This year, we will also be embarking on a very exciting exercise to assess the University’s progress on its Access and Participation Plan. The Office for Students requires universities to submit a plan showing what it’s doing and what it’s planning to do to improve access and participation for students from key underrepresented backgrounds at University. Students also have the chance to file in a submission to give the students’ view on whether the University has achieved its targets. This is an important exercise that Freya and I are working on, and we will be in touch with students to gather that feedback to make sure that submission can be as detailed as possible.

    I have been working on the wider University work regarding our environmental credentials. One of our key demands is for the University to divest from companies that finance the fossil fuel industry, such as Barclays. This week, I have met with the leaders of the Climate Action Framework to talk about how we can achieve this. I will be working to review the terms of reference of the University’s investments committee to make sure environmental principles are at the forefront of the University’s investment decisions.

    Last but not least I want to give a couple of shoutouts, because we need to do this, and we need to celebrate the incredible things members of our community have done, and this week I have been privileged to be a part of some of them.

    I want to give a huge shoutout to my friend and colleague Tom, our Sport Officer, for the incredible work he has been doing on the Students’ Union space consultation, to make sure that our spaces are fit for purpose when we come back post-Covid, and for the amazing advancements he’s making on making sport more inclusive for trans and non-binary students.

    I also want to commend the work of the LGBT+ student committee. On Wednesday I had the privilege to attend a support group meeting they organised and their effort, care and level of enthusiasm is incredible and I hugely look up to it. I hope you know how much you’re improving the experience of the students who attend these meetings, and we’re all really grateful to be working with you.

    This week, I have also attended Academic Council, where I got to see even more the huge amount of work our Education Officer, Annie, is doing. I’m proud and honoured to be working with her on the key education issues that students have faced this year. I also want to commend the work the Academic Reps are doing to support their peers during such a transformative time for education.

    That’s it from me! Have a lovely weekend, and make sure that you vote in the NUS referendum that is open now, and in the Officer elections, the voting of which opens on Tuesday. Have a lovely weekend.

  • Tue 23 Feb 2021 08:27

     

    Commitments around equality, diversity and inclusion must be followed up by tangible action to improve the lives of those in our community that struggle the most. Without that, the promises made are hollow and void of any meaning. A significant number of the SU’s priority campaigns this year have centred around improving the university’s record on equality, diversity and inclusion, and officers have taken the lead on campaigns centred around reporting of sexual harassment, decolonising the curriculum, and providing job opportunities and support for students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. Within the Top Ten, I have taken the lead on a campaign I feel deeply passionate about: to work with the University to enact a transgender policy for all students and staff.

    Trans, non-binary and gender diverse students face significant barriers to access and to participate, both in the wider society and within a University context. A 2017 national report from Stonewall highlights some jarring statistics that everyone who wishes to create a more equal and inclusive environment must remember. 36% of trans students have faced negative comments or conduct from University staff due to their identity; 60% have received the same treatment from fellow students. 7% of trans students have been physically attacked by a student or a staff member. 20% of trans students have been encouraged by their university to hide or disguise their identity. 39% of them would not feel confident reporting transphobic behaviour or bullying to staff. 17% of trans students report being unable to use the toilet they feel comfortable with at University. Students that identify outside of heterosexual or LGB, according to the Office for Students (OfS) have significantly lower continuation rate. The barrier exists at an academic level as well. The Office for Students has reported that, both in 2017-18 and 2018-19, students that identify outside of heterosexual or LGB had a significantly lower level of attainment (meaning that a significantly lower proportion of trans students achieved a 1st or upper 2nd degree at undergraduate level).

    These numbers are staggering. Government intervention and support are needed at a wide scale, and the measures that need to be implemented range between changing laws to changing the day-to-day, small procedures that most of us would consider mundane, yet they present significant barriers for trans, non-binary, and gender diverse people. In the name of free speech, the Government seems more keen to support and allow for a culture war supported by mainstream media that has actively questioned the existence of trans people. Transphobia is still live in our society and our elected officials are not doing enough to address this.

    As it turns out, there is a whole lot that we can do as an institution, and this is exactly the journey we have embarked this year and, together with University staff and our incredible students, we are creating a Gender Identity Policy. The task is, frankly, huge, and it just shines a light on the amount of barriers faced by our non-cisgender community. Some of the areas that we are tackling in the policy will be:

    • Procedures around changing names and university usernames on online systems.
    • Procedures around changing names for internal and external correspondence.
    • Ways to support students who decide to transition whilst at University (and how this can be integrated in mitigation measures such as extensions and IMCs)
    • Inclusivity in sport
    • Support for non-cisgender students in their choice of first-year accommodation
    • Pronouns use in email signatures and library cards
    • Improving the provision of universal (gender-neutral) toilets and facilities across our campus.

    On the subject of toilets, I want to point out some work we have been doing on a larger scale. The UK Government has quietly launched a petition on “Toilet Provision for Men and Women”, calling for evidence, with the aim of considering the ratio of male to female toilets. Various groups across the country have been vocal in highlighting how this consultation appears to be threatening the existence of current gender-neutral facilities, which are a unique safe space for those in our society who are uncomfortable, or even unable, to use gender-specific toilets (48% of trans/Non-Binary respondents in a Stonewall survey reported significant discomfort when using public toilets).

    We strongly believe that any decisions following the consultations should not entail a reduction in the provision of gender-neutral facilities. They should be increased, improved, and encouraged, not taken away. This is exactly what we’re working on at this University, and what we are pushing the University to commit to. We believe the UK Government should do the same. I have been working with some incredible students from Liberation groups to prepare a response to the consultation, and I will be writing to our MP, Wera Hobhouse, to highlight this issue in the hope she will be able to seek reassurance from the Government that the consultation will not bring about a re-purpose of universal facilities to gender-specific.

    There’s so much more to be done and so much progress still waiting to be sought – but we’re moving in the right direction.

  • Fri 19 Feb 2021 13:06

    Hello everyone! Sorry it’s been a while! Last Friday and this Monday I took some annual leave, so my update has not gone out as I normally would. I hope you can forgive me x

    It’s been another manic week over here, I look back at my calendar and SO MUCH has happened, and so much is going to happen over the next few weeks, too!

    Remember that nominations for officer elections close on Monday at 12.00 PM, so if you’re interested in running, make sure you have your nomination in by then. We can’t wait to get chatting about elections and how the following week is going to unfold.

    Here are some of the things I’ve been up to lately and just stuff I wanna mention really:

    • Budgets: As explained last week, the SU faces financial difficulties in the future, and our financial situation will heavily depend on the coronavirus restrictions and how the easing out of lockdown progresses. This week, departments have submitted their budgets, and we have been working together to make sure we can meet our financial needs and obligations whilst funding student and SU activity at its best.
    • Gender Identity Policy/Toilet Consultation: I have been working on communications around the policy as the consultations continue. I have also been working with students from the LGBT+ group to prepare a response to the Government’s consultation on public toilet provision, an issue that deeply affects our trans/Non-Binary/gender diverse community.
    • Race Equality: I have met with the Chair of the Race Equality Taskforce, Rajani, and had a very productive conversation on how the race equality agenda can effectively be moved forward at this University.
    • SU Awards: Recognising and awarding the amazing work of our volunteers this year is going to be different than in the past. We have started meeting and talking about how we can make this celebration amazing no matter what the circumstances will be.
    • Graduations Venue Project: Similarly, I have been meeting with University staff to discuss graduations. Conversations are still happening around the planned graduations for this summer, and whilst we all hope to be able to celebrate our graduates the old-fashioned way, we are planning for a range of scenarios to make sure this celebration can happen in some form, whatever the circumstances.
    • Student Hardship: The Government has announced additional funding for hardship for students. Ahead of receiving some of that money as a University, I’ve met with key University staff to discuss how this can be best allocated, and will be working with Student Services to improve the accessibility of the Hardship Fund.
    • Semester 2 Exams: Exams in this scenario present a lot of possibility, and there are a lot of things that have gone well in the exam season just passed. However, a significant number of you has spoken to us voicing your concerns about the things that have not gone so well. In our formal response to the University, we have voiced those concerns exactly, demanding changes to the procedures for the summer assessment season. This includes length of exams, undertaking your exams from different time-zones, extra time if necessary, and the issues with having a number of exams back to back.

    I want to say a huge congratulations again to the students that participated this week in an event hosted by the Debating Society on our affiliation to the NUS. This is student democracy at its finest and we are so proud of our students for taking part and debating the future of our SU. It was incredible to watch and we hope that all the attendees enjoyed it, too.

    Monday is a big day, of course. Not only because officer nominations close, but also because we will know more, by the end of the day, about the roadmap to leave lockdown hopefully once and for all. We are all eager and hopeful that this is the last time we’ll be in this situation, and I am really grateful to each and every one of you who has been respecting the rules and contributed to this national effort to put this pandemic behind us. Be kind to yourselves and to one another, and hang in there, we’re getting closer to the end of this by the day.

    Have a lovely weekend.

    Stay awesome,
    Franci

    Your SU President

     

Contact