END OF YEAR REPORT FOR
STUDENTS’ UNION COUNCIL- Sarah Craggs (Welfare and Equality Officer)
What have you done this term?
Despite being the last academic term in office, it has been by far one of the busiest.
- Launch of Healthier Food on Campus Survey
One of the key things I wanted to do whilst in my role is to evaluate the current food provisions on campus from a health and wellbeing perspective. I have been working alongside the catering and hospitality team into looking at the current food the University provides, and whether this is adequate. This has also been an issue which has come up in meetings with the VC. Within these meetings, we established that the current food provisions were not acceptable, so the University catering team underwent a review. To support this, I created a survey to understand what ‘healthy’ means to students, and what our students want to see improve. This survey went live, and I got a large response rate. I will be correlating this feedback to send to the catering team. They are already working on improving the food outlets with a healthier range of food items, as well as the restaurant and vending machine provisions too, indicating and signposting to nutritional information.
One of the key University projects I have been involved with this year in Changing the Culture. I am involved in the Steering Group, Implementation Group, Disclosure and Reporting work stream, Support work stream, training work stream, and the communications and engagement work stream. Changing the Culture is a University led initiative to improve provisions, resources and support for survivors of sexual harassment and assault. The UUK wrote a report to all universities with 33 recommendations which Newcastle University mapped out and has adopted. Within this, the Students’ Union is heavily involved, and my work has proven invaluable to getting the student voice heard within this project. I work closely with the project lead, and we are working on producing a student survey to understand how we can communicate this to the cohort of students.
- Public Sessions to support students
I have been in contact with various externals to come in and deliver sessions to students. One in particular is an ex spine surgeon; Manoj, who has been working with myself and the University Wellbeing Team. Manoj has been delivering student sessions in order to help students manage stress and learn about emotional intelligence. This is a project I believe will continue next year, and hopefully will work with the University as well as the Students’ Union to support students.
- Housing Supplement Part 2
In the recent edition of the Courier, I produced a housing supplement part 2 to support and help students when moving out of their current accommodations, into their new accommodations. This is an informative piece giving support on what to look out for when moving out, i.e. deposit refunds, and when moving into a new property, i.e. bill management. This is particularly useful for first year students in halls, moving into the private rental sector.
- Launch of 30 minute break times in study areas
Since the University agreed to the feedback presented to them on extending the library break time policy from 15 minutes to 30 minutes I have been working with them to improve the communication to students.
Since then, they have launched the extended time in study spaces and on all PCs which is a great win! They have also launched the ‘Study Well’ communications which is a more student friendly approach to previous methods.
- Inspiring Women Conference
On the 12th May, we ran our annual Inspiring Women Conference which had a high attendance rate. On the day we have key note speakers, including Chi Onwurah, and a range of sessions and guests, including NEST, Women for Women, Karen Ross, Charlotte Boulton, Accenture, finishing with an open discussion with an appearance from the Chief Corporate Affairs Manager at Northumbrian Water.
The second part of the SOS campaign is looming as we approach the summer exam period. We have a lot scheduled during this period. We have our wall planners, and cue cards currently in the library, and will be delivering these to other schools and study spaces in the next week, we will also be offering our free fruit within this areas. Alongside this, we have a range of free activities taking place, including sport classes, massages, table tennis and much more! On the 1st June we will also have our annual Doggie Days, as well as our Wellbeing Venue down in Venue.
Alongside NUSU Education Officer, Rowan South, we hosted the Student Rep Celebrating Success awards.
What has been your biggest achievement?
- My biggest achievement this term has been the success of the 30 minute break times. This has been launched at a great time, just before the exam period. There has already been positive feedbacks on how this has benefitted students take longer breaks between studying. Alongside this, the launch of welfare communication within the study periods, such as the importance of taking regular breaks, but to remove belongings if the student breaks for longer than 30 minutes.
What could you have improved on?
- I believe I could have improved communication within other NUSU staff after certain University working groups. For example, changing the Culture. Because a lot of different NUSU are involved in different works streams, I believe we could have communicated to allow everyone to understand what everyone is doing and update on the work.
- I believe this is particularly relevant to myself as I sit on the Implementation Group, as well as Steering Group so I very much have a birds eye view on all the work going on, whereas some of my colleagues may not understand the progression of some other work streams. This is something I believe I will be able to work on in my future career.
What piece of advice would you pass on to your successor?
- One important bit of advice would be to make sure to always speak up in University meetings if you have something to say, sometimes it can feel quite intimidating questioning something in a meeting full of big figures within the University, but it is really important to make sure the student voice is always heard. Additionally, University staff like to see that we as student representatives are engaged and want to feedback.
- I would also say, it is incredibly hard to please everyone within the University and student body. For instance, with the 30 minute break time, this was something students really wanted, but the University Library staff less so of. So, stay passionate about it, and you will be able to make positive change!
- Lastly, I would say to enjoy the job, and do things you enjoy and feel passionate about. I felt passionate about the lack of healthy food on campus, and hope to think that due to my work in the near future we will see better options on campus.