As of last year, VP Welfare and Societies has become VP Welfare and Communities. This change has meant a huge adjustment to the main responsibilities of the job.
I ask this year’s VP Welfare and Communities’ candidates how they propose to support student communities in order to enhance their Student experiences. Here are their responses.
Frank Sonders said:
First of all, we know the rising tuition fees will come into effect next year so we will definitely see a drop in student numbers. So what will happen is that British students will choose alternatives to universities. We will need to substitute these students with, let’s say, European students. We will need to show international students that we care for them when they come here. I plan on working a lot in fresher’s week, for example promoting British identity and how to engage with British culture.
I plan on creating a scheme where we can engage the British and international students, for example a buddy system. For me, a buddy system is something that Erasmus society does at the moment. It has British and International students interact at social occasions like a trip to the movies. As a sabbatical officer I will be able to fund a scheme like this and therefore create a better student community.
I plan on working a lot in fresher’s week, for example promoting British identity and how to engage with British culture.
Chloe Green said:
Well student communities are a bit of a biggy! When you say communities there are many communities. I mean when you think about international students, post-grad students, JCR students, mature students, students with disabilities, there are reams and reams of communities. So for something like international students, for example, before they come to the union there is a huge disparity in communication when it comes to getting the fresher packs out to them. What we should be doing is sending them in PDF form to their emails because at the moment they’re just sent to halls, so international students who don’t get into halls are completely cut off from the union. Also, with international students, there are huge issues with safety.
Students in Portswood are not safe.
A lot of them tend to live in Burgess Road and around the Flower Estate and I’ve been speaking to the international officer who has explained to me that there have been racial attacks in these areas. The way I propose to tackle this is to get a better police presence in these areas and this stretches to not just international students but all student communities.
Students in Portswood aren’t safe. Last year I was involved in a campaign which lobbied the council to get greater street lighting and we actually achieved that. What I would do is continue that work with the council having had that experience because it’s not just about the person feeling safe it’s also about accountability. No one is going to attack you if they are perfectly visible. So I’d like to work with the council to get greater street lighting and work with the police to get a greater police presence. Sorry, I’ve gone off on a tangent about communities but there are so many issues and I urge readers of this to visit my manifesto.
Nick Johnson said:
We’ve all got our different interests and hobbies and it’s just making sure that people know that they can all be catered for really. One thing I’d love to do is help improve the experiences of those who don’t get quite as involved as they could do; mature students, post-grads and international students. I mean, I can’t drag someone by the hand and bring them in but if I can do my best in reminding everyone that hey, you might be here for some work but you’ve got to enjoy yourself as well.
You might be here for some work but you’ve got to enjoy yourself as well
Simon Eyles said:
Ok, so for example I’ll take international students as a student community. I got in touch with Frankie and was fortunate enough to attend the Pre-Sessionals this year just gone, which was really good. We were up here on level three of the union and everyone was mixing, there was free tea and coffee, we got all the students down here and they were just talking to each other and there was already just a great sense of community. People were meeting each other that were living in the flat below them who they wouldn’t have known otherwise. To improve that, I would hope to have more information here. As well as it being a sort of team-building and community-building exercise, I’d want them to have the information that they need, because they were asking a lot of questions and a lot of them were asking the same questions.
People were meeting each other that were living in the flat below them who they wouldn’t have known otherwise.
One point on my manifesto is their banking. Coming to the UK and setting up banking stuff is quite difficult. When I was moving people in with the JCRs I helped an international student walk down to campus, took them into Santander and actually tried to help them set up a bank account, and it was a complicated process. So actually getting that information to them, maybe when they’re still in their home country or if not then at the Pre-Sessionals and here when they arrive, will be a really good thing to do.
If you want to read more about what these guys want to do to improve your welfare and communities then visit their manifestos at: http://www.susu.org/elections/sabbatical/candidates.html
Be sure to vote for your favourite at 1pm 27th February!