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Student Parliament 2 Summary

On Tuesday 25/10/2022, Strathclyde Student Parliament conducted its second meeting of the academic year.

Students at Parliament in Mandela Auditorium

This meeting was chaired by Democracy Convener Kyle McGettigan. This month’s parliamentary session covered the plans by the Student Exec so far and contains a special Q and A session with the Execs with specially curated questions from students.

3-Minute Round Up

The Execs began the session by giving their “3-minute round up” for the academic year so far and what they are planning moving forward.

VP Welfare - Lewis McDermott

  • Has been working towards the Manifesto they were elected on.
  • Continuing to work on assisting those who require student housing including the influx of students who are coming in January.
  • Working on Sexual Health campaigns at Strathclyde including the introduction of S.H.A.G (Sexual, Health, Awareness and Guidance) week at the start of January.
  • Has been a part of setting up a Sexual Health Working Group at Strathclyde, which is a University and Union working group that is meeting to discuss sexual health initiatives.
  • Working with the Housing Action Group to deal with student housing issues.
  • Successful launch meeting of the Mental Health Action Group and the Student Mental Health agreement is being worked on, with students surveyed about what change they want to see to the agreement in the upcoming weeks.
  • In terms of collaboration of student engagement, they are planning on going along to a lot more student events.

VP Sport - Ronan Welch

  • Hit 2,500 members as part of the Sports Union as of Monday 24th of October.
  • Had Over 2,500 sign ups to free sport testers after Freshers week.
  • Working on giving Sports Union the best toolkit to improve themselves and others who are a part of the Sports Union.
  • Continuing to make sure Wednesday afternoon’s stay sacred as a sports and leisure day.
  • Improve the sporting eco system at Strathclyde by working with Strath Sport to ensure there is something for everybody.
  • Hosting upcoming events to get Sports Union members involved and social throughout the academic year.
  • Continuing to work on engagement of PGRs and PGTs in sport events as due to Wednesdays not being free for them a lot of sport feels focused towards undergrads. With only 10% of members of the Sports Union being PG students.

VP Inclusion - Yu-Chu (Kathy) Doong

  • Working on events for black history month, including a special Strath Union Podcast featuring BAME Alumni which you can find here
  • Working on 16 Days of Action, which is currently pencilled in for the 8th of December for the march and arranging speakers and stalls to provide support after the march.
  • Supporting International students, particularly Iranian students who are wanting to be affiliated with the Union as well as arranging a freedom rally with Iranian students.

VP Education - Arran Lamont

  • Working on the issues of accessible learning, continuing the conversation with the Deputy Associate Principle over the coming weeks.
  • Attainment record and accessible learning working groups are currently in the process of being set up.
  • 350 Programme Reps have been elected over the last few weeks to allow more communication between students and Faculty Reps, find more out about Strath Reps here
  • Working with Strathclyde University to set up new study spaces across campus in the Livingstone Tower and Graham Hills buildings due to the issues of overcrowding within the Learning and Teaching/Union Building.
  • Currently working with Strathclyde University Library to retaining external accreditations.
  • Continuing to work around Strathclyde University “after develop” programmes.

VP Community - Justyna Kardasz

  • ‘The Sensory Room’, as discussed in last Parliamentary session, has been rebranded to ‘The Quiet Room’ and has its location secured on Level 2 of the Learning and Teaching building. Although the room is still a work in progress and funding is being secured to furnish it properly.
  • Discount cards for Societies are in process of being handed out.
  • The Inter-SOC Rep pilot project was successful and is being worked on to make it the best for as possible for societies and is open to input from society members.
  • The Sustainability Hub is being coordinated on between the VP Community and Sustainability Coordinator, open to student ideas about what to do with the space.

President - Adam Morrow

  • Discussing the possibility of a spatialisation assessment with the University Secretary, to see what can be done within the Learning and Teaching building to improve issues of overcrowding during peak times such as lunch etc.
  • Other campaigns are progressing well including all joint campaigns with other executive members such as S.H.A.G week.
  • Glasgow City Council have been reached out to about the current issues of housing, and upcoming housing as we approach the January intake of students. As of writing there has been no response.
  • In terms of cost of living, University catering has lowered their prices and there is going to be a guide published soon detailing ‘cheap food and cheap eats’ on campus and how to utilise your finances during the winter months.
  • Also plans to create a ‘Warm bank’ map in order to indicate the warmest places on campus for students to occupy during the winter and cold months.
  • Strathclyde University Library will also have its 24hr open hours in place 2 weeks earlier than normal in the lead up to exam season due to the cost-of-living crisis to accommodate students.
  • With the VP Community, Justyna Kardasz, have started work on divestment of fossil fuels at the Union.
  • Working on credibility and visibility with Student Parliament by implementing aspects such as an Execs Question Time to the docket, as part of making students more aware of what the execs do, and to hold them to account.

Question Time

VP Welfare - Lewis McDermott

Q. You and the other Officers have highlighted that sexual health is an area of focus, when will there be a sexual health clinic on campus and what work will you do help support students’ sexual health and wellbeing?

A. “I really appreciate this question as this was a manifesto commitment from my first election campaign, however getting in this role I quickly realised that it was going to be a long fight.

So, in terms of getting a sexual health service on campus, the University is open to the idea but there’s a lot more groundwork that needs to be done in the first place before we even begin exploring the feasibility of it.

We need to better strengthen our relationships with Sandyford, the Terrence Higgins Trust and other organisations that work around sexual health, to make sure students are already accessing the facilities that are put there and we need to better tackle the sigma around sexual health.

Challenging the stigma, gathering the data and making sure that it is a priority for the university are what we need before we have that conversation.

 At the end of the year when our campaign is successful, we’ll hopefully be able to reassess at that point and have the data, justification, and the conversations in place to pull a paper together.”

VP Sport - Ronan Welch

Q. 16 Days of Action and Fight for the Night are coming up soon, what are you doing to encourage sports members and committees to combat gender-based violence within their clubs and further afield?

A.  “This is actually a very relevant question as, just today [27/10/22] I’ve been reaching out to every single gendered woman’s sports club talking about the “Emily Test”.

For those who are not aware it is a charter all about ensuring there is no space for gender-based violence within institutions and where there is violence, it is dealt with appropriately, and that the victims are supported the best they can, with their being a clear evaluation period afterwards that makes sure it doesn’t happen again.

I’ve contacted every single woman’s sport club to say I want their input; I want to be involved with this and to make sure there is no room for gender-based violence in our culture here at the university. We also have a very, very active sports population engaging with ‘Fight for the Night’, we have an activist population who want to get stuck in.

We also have worked with our male sports clubs to tackle masculine bias, to make sure there’s no toxic atmosphere, or locker room culture that comes with sport, that is all gone! We are addressing the skeletons in our closet and making sure we are better off for it. “

VP Inclusion - Yu-Chu (Kathy) Doong

Q. How are you ensuring that more students can feed into the running of key inclusion events such as LGBTQ+ and Black History Month and particularly applying the voices of those with lived experiences?

A. “By no means are the events that we [the Execs] hold, the only ones that are allowed at the Union. The Union support, and I support any student voice, or any student led events.

The Union has a number of events coming up with several societies including one that celebrate Black History Month.  

We’re also looking to gather feedback by the end of April, for the next VP Inclusion after me so we have an idea of what students want to see, so we have the time to organise more relevant events and what we can do to be more practical in the future.

I’m also quite involved with LGBTQ+ society, and we would recommend anyone to join whether you consider yourself as part of the community or not, everyone is welcome to come along.

I also just want to emphasis that the Union and myself also encourage and support different student groups to hold events. For example, when it was Nigerian Independence Day, the Union helped organise faculties according to the society’s needs.

In terms of how I support the student voice, I try my best to go to all the different events being held and get involved, meaning I can see what you care about and how to achieve it.”

VP Education - Arran Lamont

Q. PGR engagement is a key area of focus for the Union, what are you doing to specifically to ensure that PGR students have good representation within the University?

A. “A large part of that for me is our Education Committee and having our PGR reps present there and being able to touch base consistently with thek has proven very useful to have a better understanding of the challenges that PGR students are facing.

Likewise, one of our student trustees has been really useful in keeping that finger on the pulse of the student body.

In terms of PGR representation over the last few months, Adam and I have been working very closely with the Doctoral Research Group to evaluate how we do PGR representation at department level. We have nothing to announce just yet, but hopefully in the coming weeks we should be able to provide some more detail on that representation structure should look moving forward, which is quite exciting. It’s all about trying to create that presence within the PGR community and get them more involved with the union”

VP Community - Justyna Kardasz

Q. Sustainability is a key focus for the Union, how will you ensure that students will contribute effectively to organising events around sustainability and what steps are you taking to make sure the university sticks to its target of hitting Net Zero by 2040?

A. “So, the Climate Emergerency Action Group organises for sustainability alongside our Sustainability Coordinator, they can provide support and direction if you ask them for it. The Sustainability Hub, which is on its way to being set up, will provide an opportunity for students to explore sustainability at their own pace and leisure while also giving the Climate Emergency Action Group a place to go about their work.

There are opportunities to get involved, such as through climate striking as well as campaigning through banner making for those who don’t want to take part in striking.

For the next part of the question, I’m currently working with Sustainable Strathclyde, which is one way to keep the University accountable to hit its target by 2040 and the other way is through student representation on various committees that myself and members of the CAG sit on so that the student voice is heard through the whole process.”

President- Adam Morrow

Q. With the cost-of-living crisis looking to be a significant issue over the winter, how are you ensuring that students are receiving support from the Union and University?

A. “Yes so as well all know we are in a cost-of-living crisis, with students disproportionately effected by this on many different levels. We have a lot of community-based initiatives at the minute around food offering, the warm bank initiative, with both in the University and the Union working on things on their end.

I am pleased to say that this is something that is a shared focus between the University and the Union, and we encourage students to use University buildings, the Union especially, for energy, to charge your devices, to cook their lunch here, to even shower here if necessary.

In terms of moving forward, there has been a lobbying effort from myself with the Chief Financial Officer of the University, Steven Wallace, to top up the hardship funds and digressionary funds for those students who feel they need it.”

Find out more about Student Parliament including upcoming dates and how to get involved here

 

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