So first month as an Executive Officer was as hectic as it seems! This month has mostly been about meeting different members of the university that I’ll be working with over the year and setting up relationships.
However, Black History month planning is well underway! I’ve been working with African and Caribbean Society, Hip Hop Society and the Somali Society to help organise the month and make sure it’s all in the Students' Union calendar to make it accessible to all students. I’ve been working with Societies as well as the BME Reps to decide what events would work well within our budget. They’ve been doing truly amazing work and I’m really excited to see all their ideas come to fruition.
But other than that, I’ve been implementing things for Welcome Week. I’m planning a lot of exciting events for Halls Reps and Buddys to help create a better sense of community for incoming students. We’ve also decided as an Exec Team to relaunch Zero Tolerance this year, which means you’ll be seeing all the design for it round the University and Students' Union!
Then for the upcoming year I’ve secured Good Night Out training for all our bar staff which means that they know how to respond in cases of sexual assault, harassment and have bystander intervention training as well. We’ll also be having chlamydia testing in Drapers at Monday’s Calling to highlight how important it is to get regularly tested, and then to carry on testing in the Students' Union Hub on the first Friday of each month. The posters for this will go up on the 1st October. As part of the yearlong campaign on healthy sex and relationships, I’ve designed consent workshops which will be delivered to all Halls Reps, Student Council Members, Society Committee Members and Student Staff. On top of this, discussion on getting a student-staff misconduct policy is well underway and am confident this will be completed this term, if not this year.
I’m also learning a lot about international students as I go along. I thought it’s worth mentioning it because whilst international students didn’t feature much in my manifesto, I’m quickly realising how much work needs to be done for them and it’s becoming a real focus of mine in everything I do. For example, in my Sex and Relationships Month that will be happening in January, I’m going to do a healthy relationships workshop aimed at international students, based off Sheffield Hallam’s successful pilot project which focused on the same thing.
Black History month is starting next week which is really exciting. It was a pleasure working with the reps and Society Presidents who have been brilliant at organising events and I’m really excited all their hard work and planning come to fruition. We have Diane Abbott coming to talk about Windrush, an award winning dance workshop, society meet and greets and debates! By no means are these events definitive, we’ll have more appearing on social media and on the website throughout the year – like the black owned business fair! (www.qmsu.org/bhm for more information)
We’re planning for our Zero Tolerance to be launched in National Hate Crime Awareness Week. So, on the 15th October, expect to see Zero Tolerance in Drapers, to the Griff Inn, and us Executive Officers promoting it in Library Square. Look out for “how report” posters too in Drapers, and clear signposting throughout the year. I’m also working with the University to recruit a Sexual Harassment Project Manager, who will work closely with me over the next year on creating official reporting procedures for the University. You can continue to report any hate crime here if you are a Queen Mary student/member of staff: The Code of Conduct for Drapers and the Griff Inn will also be released as part of this campaign.
As part of Zero Tolerance, the Student-Staff Misconduct Policy I’ve been lobbying for is now live on the website. This particular policy didn’t exist before I started my role and we had it done before Welcome Week – which is a huge achievement I’m really proud of! Also – I’m working with the Vice Principal of Education to ensure that student welfare is a huge part of the university’s strategy: “Going for Gold”. This strategy is about ensuring the Queen Mary achieves the top award for TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework), so it’s really encouraging that the University believes welfare is a huge part of that and wants each member of the Exec to lead on a different part of it.
I’ve also secured funding for “Wellbeing Weeks” which will be part of our ongoing 'Be Kind To You Mind' campaign. These will, as opposed to previous campaigns, teach students how to effectively use self-care methods: including grounding techniques, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) exercises and workshops on how to manage different aspects of your life that young adults often find difficult to grapple with (especially me – catch me at literally all of these workshops!) like finance, housing and time management. There are lots of barriers that stop us from getting mental health diagnoses or engaging with counselling and therapy. These weeks are by no means a replacement for mental health help, but does at least bridge a gap in the services that the university offer.
Finally, it was so lovely to meet all of you at our Welcome Fair and have the opportunity to speak to you as part of induction lectures/around campus! As ever, if there’s anything you want to get involved with – you can get into contact with me between the hours of 9-5pm on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (@welfareqmsu for all three of them) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All my love!