Exactly two years ago, I walked up to the Activities floor of the Students Union, to buy tickets for a trip. I spotted an old calendar that said elections, and as a Politics student I was curious and asked what it was for. That’s how I found out for the first time, what Sabbatical Officers are and why there is a Students Union, something we don’t have in the Netherlands. Never would I have thought that only two years later, I’d have my own desk on that same floor, after winning the elections myself.
These last few months have been filled with unexpected things. Especially starting this job during a global pandemic has come with its challenges; however, it has forced us to rethink what officers are here to do and has given new perspectives and made us even more flexible and critical. Throughout summer my colleagues and I have worked really hard, together with the University, to make sure we are as prepared, as we possibly can. However, we are ready to adapt where necessary and flexibility is a real key word.
Sport and Covid-19
Firstly, sport as the main area of my role, is highly impacted by Covid-19. In July I sent out an email to all club members to inform them that BUCS made an announcement regarding competitive sports and leagues being postponed until January 2021, with this being a bridging season, meaning there will be no promotion or relegation this season. This has left a big gap for the first semester. As all sports have their own National Governing Body, we’ve been working closely with clubs and the Sport Centre to see what can go ahead. Again, something we need to be flexible in, and changes all the time while guidelines change. The ‘unexpected’ cyber-attack, has made this even more challenging, but it seems that we got through the worst, and have been able to adapt. However, I am proud as an Athletic Union Officer, to see how dedicated clubs and their committees are, and the hard work they have done, even over summer.
Canterbury and our kit
Currently, most of our kit is still only available in men’s sizes, and for the few items that are available in women’s sizes, the sizes do not seem to be accurate to what they should be, compared to other brands. “If we are to stand by the NUSU values of being inclusive, effective and progressive then we must push forward in all equality issues. The reality of male clothing being the [only] viable option to kit out teams is simply not good enough. The alternative is badly sized and misjudged body shapes leaving little choice for other genders”. There is still a long way to go, but as Athletic Union Officer, I am aiming to improve inclusivity, accessibility and equality issues. The statement above, is part of an article that has been published in the Courier. I am delighted to say that a few days after the article was published, Canterbury got in touch with me. We’ve had our first meeting this week and although it will be a long process, I am excited to see where this will go.
Besides the sport part of my role, I am also a sabbatical officer, which means that we represent the student voice in numerous University meetings which take up a lot of time. A really valuable part of my role which I have been enjoying and am glad to see that the University takes our opinions on board. I also sit in the community meetings, with among others, the University, the police, council and Northumbria University. It’s an important collaboration in which we work together to make sure that students can arrive safely to our campuses, our city and the surrounding areas.
Back to unexpected things, it was an enormous pleasure to be invited to BBC News together with our Vice Chancellor, to discuss the local lockdown measures and what this means for the University and students.
I understand that these are difficult times for students, however, I want to make sure that you know that we here at NUSU will be there, every step along the way this year. Making sure that your voice is heard. We are ready for all the expected and unexpected situations and will be flexible and ready to adapt in the best way possible.
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