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Officer Updates & Blogs

President

Blog: Dorothy Chirwa, President of NUSU

President Updates: A long overdue hello

Hello everyone,

I wanted to write to introduce myself as well as talk about what I’ve been doing over the past few months. At the end of May I finished up my history degree, sat in my childhood bedroom which wasn’t quite how I pictured it, but finishing was a relief nonetheless. The calm didn’t last for too long though as 15 days later I started in my role as President.

If someone had told me this time last year that I was going to start a job that’s exclusively being done on zoom, during a global pandemic that creates the biggest A Level fiasco as well a cyber incident, I probably would have laughed at them. Starting a job in the middle of the most unprecedented times has definitely been interesting however representing the student voice has never been more important than now and I wanted to let you guys know exactly what I’ve been doing since I started in June

My primary focus has been working with university to get campus ready to reopen. I have to say I may have been somewhat naive at how big a task this would be: apparently there are more buildings than just the Armstrong. Shock I know. I’ve sat in various meetings with staff across the university and the union as we plan how we welcome students back on to campus. As you can imagine this has been difficult and complex. We have spent countless hours figuring out how we provide the best student experience possible that prioritises safety. The work that has been done has been incredible and now we are welcoming people on campus it feels good to know that all the time we’ve spent is going to be worth it. With this in mind as we come on to campus, and see the new rules let’s remember that we all have a collective responsibility to continue the safe environment we’ve started on campus. In the words of my GCSE English Lit book An Inspector Calls, “We do not live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other”. My teacher would be so proud I still remember that. 

Besides from meetings on how to reopen campus, I’ve also been working on lots of equality diversity and inclusion work. Alongside Nadia, we have spent months putting together a welcome pack for BAME students that will help them navigate Newcastle. It’s content ranges from food shops to hair dressers and will hopefully make adjusting to life in Newcastle easier. I’ve also been working on Black History Month which kicks off in October. This work feels so urgent with the way the world seems to have shifted over the past few months. There is in my opinion an immediacy to create anti racist environments- a long overdue and necessary process. I hope that you will get involved with some of this work as we continue the work to educate ourselves and create welcoming spaces. 

Finally I want to take the time to say well done to everyone for getting here. We have had a difficult year, and the fact that we’re all here and ready to keep going is amazing. We are defying all odds. We will never struggle to come up with an answer for the “tell us a time you’ve persevered through difficulty” question at a job interview. 

 

I hope that this academic year is the best it can be for you. Don’t ever hesitate to get in touch with me at president.union@ncl.ac.uk 

 

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