Officer Updates & Blogs

Athletic Union Officer

Blog: Benthe Tanghe, Athletic Union Officer 

Half-time (AU End of Term Report)

What have I done this term?

It is safe to say that term 1 has been quite a rollercoaster with many ups and downs. I just scrolled through my diary since the beginning of term and it made me realise how much has happened in just these last few months. As NUSU’s Athletic Union Officer it feels only right to start with a quick overview of some of the things I’ve done related to sport:

  •   Held an AU AGM which elected an Executive Committee of 9 members and approved my proposal to recognise a second Welfare Officer for clubs
  •   Chaired 3 AU Exec meetings
  •   Arranged training for the club committees
  •   Worked closely with the Sports Centre to try and get as much sport operating as possible within the guidelines
  •   Organised an online fresher’s fair together with the Activities Officer
  •   Restructured the club grants. This restructuring was necessary to make it more fair for all our clubs given the current situation. We have given out the first part, second part to be continued in term 2
  •   Started working together with Canterbury to provide more appropriate kit for women, a project that is still on going

I think it’s safe to say this year has been very unusual, which also mean that for me the scope of my role had to adapt to include more than just sport. Looking back at my diary… In term 1 I have sat in over 50 project groups and committees to make sure that the student voice was heard. I’ll not list them all but here are the main areas these meetings were about:

- Community
This year it is especially important to have a strong cohort of student reps when speaking for students on the many and varied issues caused by the pandemic. I sit on multiple meetings where we discuss the community of which perhaps the most important one is the Community Unity meeting which has reps from both Uni's and SU's, the City Council and Northumbria Police. A few examples of my contribution to the work can be seen in the recently recorded webinar and published article, as well as in the collaboration of community leaflets and messaging. One of the main aims this year so far has been to tackle the scapegoating of students and to help make student life as good as it can be.

- Global
As an international student myself, I have been working closely with the University’s International Office to make sure that we have their interests covered. Being an international student is challenging in any year, but especially this year which has brought particular challenges. Just to name a few examples of my work with the international office: I have given induction talks at the beginning of the year, was part of multiple student webinars, and was part of the Quarantine 2020 working group and later sat on the self-isolation working group. I sit on the University Global Committee chaired by our Pro-Vice Chancellor Global in which we discuss everything that matters for the university in a global perspective and also includes representatives from our campuses in Singapore and Malaysia. Lastly, I am part of the Brexit Transition Group in which we discuss how to move forward after the 31st December. Brexit brings a lot of changes for our University, and most importantly for our European students. We will keep communicating with our European students what these implications are and how we are here to support them.


What has been your biggest achievement?

I’m very happy to have been able to put the issues on inequalities for kit on the agenda and am excited to see where this will go as we are currently working with Canterbury to improve this. I also think it has been great to have been able to add more student input in the International Office and we should ensure that we continue to provide representation in this important area beyond my tenure...

Talking about achievements I think it is important that I give a ‘shout out’ to all our club committees. Some might have had some activities, some might have had to do everything online, but they find themselves in a situation that no one could have prepared them for, and in some respects they have taken on more responsibility than ever. As Athletic Union Officer, overseeing these clubs I am incredibly proud of their resilience and am excited to see what they will be up to in term 2.


What could you have improved on?

This semester has entailed a lot of fighting fires rather than being able to focus on long term positive change. I hope that, together with Team Newcastle, I will be able to work more on sustainable change in term 2 including making sport more inclusive and accessible. I hope to do this by, for example, getting more involved with NUSU campaigns as I think they are valuable and a stronger link to sport would reap further benefits.


What do you plan to do next term?

I will continue my work making sure that students are taken serious and taken into account by working closely with the University and other stakeholders.

With the positive news about vaccines in mind, I hope we will slowly make our way back to more normality with more sport activities going ahead. Fingers crossed we can end this year with a great AU ball.