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issue 2: 17th october 2016 news and views from your officers @unionuea uea.su union.info@uea. ac.uk/ueastudentsunion we’re recruiting new course reps from all academic schools theo antoniou-phillips SU undergraduate education officer >> A Course Representative (Rep) is, simply, a student who represents the students on their course. Course Reps are engaged with their degree, and regularly meet with academic staff to feed back on what is working well about the course, and also suggest ways it could work better. They will also liaise with the Union, and work with myself and Maddie (the Postgrad Education Officer) to direct our education campaigns. Through the year, Course Reps will play a vital role in ensuring that student voice is being heard, and that we’re placing students’ academic interests at the centre of our campaigns. In the past, Course Reps have had real impact on the way their degree is run. They have fought for more diverse authors to be included on reading lists, for more support to be given to students on placements, and for better feedback on assignments. This year we want to do even more. If you decide to be a Course Rep, the Union will provide you with continual support in the form of training sessions, Education Forums, and by encouraging mentorships between Course Reps on different courses. to improve the a c a d e m i c experience at UEA. You’ll engage with your academic work on a whole new level – not only ensuring the high standard of learning at UEA is maintained, but working to make it even better. In my 3rd year as an undergraduate, I acted as a Course Rep for English and American Literature. For me, it was an incredibly rewarding experience; I got so much more from the course than I would have done otherwise, and I got to work with lecturers to tackle issues within the school. It was the start of my engagement with academic representation, and what eventually led to me run for Undergraduate Education Officer. To apply to be a Course Rep, you should contact the Student Partnership Officer in your school. You can find a list of them at uea.su. 5 things we spoke to the university about this week amy, theo, joe, maddie and jo your SU full time officers >> When you speak, we listen. Each week, uea|su takes your issues, complaints and ideas to the University. When the Student Experience Committee (SEC) recently met to talk about students’ UEA experience, Maddie College (PG Education Officer) and Theo Antoniou- Phillips (UG Education Officer), were there to represent your academic interests. Here’s the roundup of what they said. 1. Reading lists to be released earlier If students are given reading lists ahead of the start of term, it gives them longer to shop around for the cheapest copy of the book, organise their time, and get ahead in preparation for the start of term. Too many students arrive in Fresher’s week and are told that they have to get their hands on – and read – a £20, 500 page book by the end of the week. 2. Lecture recordings should be available online Illness, family matters, work – despite a student’s best efforts, these things can mean that a student cannot attend the lecture in person. Instead of letting students fall behind, the U n i ve r s i t y should provide sound bites or recordings of lectures. 3. The plans of UEA’s expansion should be transparent There is a growing group of students who are concerned about the expansion of the University, and the increasing number of students UEA is planning to admit in the next few years. The university should share concrete, detailed plans with their students, letting them know how they are going to deal with the additional strain these new students will place on campus services. 4. Diversity and equality need to be improved Theo fought to enhance the University’s policy on d i v e r s i t y and equality. Students from the four liberation groups (Women, LGBT+, Students with Disabilities, Ethnic Minorities) rarely find themselves adequately represented in academic contexts, and this can affect participation and drop- out rates. The voices of these students need to be heard by the University, and real change needs to be implemented in course content and teaching facilities. 5. Masters students need more space and support Maddie emphasised the importance of postgraduate study spaces – both for taught and research students – and has suggested to the University that the current facilities available are inadequate. uea|su and the University need to pull together to work out how they can best accommodate the needs of master’s students. If you want us to speak to the University about something – whether it’s an idea, issue or complaint – get in touch with uea|su on email@example.com. thousands of postgraduates are employed in higher education maddie colledge SU postgraduate education officer we need a more positive attitude towards university sport joe zilch SU activities and opportunities officer >> Thousands of postgraduates are employed in higher education, usually in teaching roles. It is vital that they are treated fairly, and fully supported as members of staff. Teaching is a hugely rewarding job, and a chance for postgraduates to gain valuable skills. Some postgraduates who teach are treated well within their departments; they are well paid, provided with training, support and feedback. However, this is not the reality for all students. Because postgraduate teaching positions are so competitive, it means that students who teach are less likely to protest against conditions which they feel to be unfair. This only makes the problems worse as these unfair conditions become the assumed standard. A 2012 survey completed by NUS revealed that: - One in three postgraduate teachers did not receive a contract - The average postgraduate teacher worked almost twice the hours they were paid for (this is even higher in Arts and Humanities, but lower in STEM subjects) - Almost one in three postgraduates who teach earn below minimum wage in real terms - At least 30% of postgraduate teachers have no departmental representation The Postgraduate Employment Charter was launched by UCU (University and College Union) in conjunction with NUS to tackle these problems. It has ten key objectives: 1. Fair, transparent and equitable appointment procedures 2. A fair rate of pay for all hours worked 3. A ban on compulsory teaching – whether this is part of a programme or the terms of a fee waiver or non-cash bursary 4. Appropriate supervision or mentoring 5. All students should receive feedback and be supported in improving 6. Appropriate induction, training and support for continuing professional development 7. Representation within the institution and by a trade union 8. Integration into the professional academic culture 9. Access to necessary facilities and resources 10. A reasonable balance between employment and study/research As the Postgraduate Education Officer, I am urging postgraduates who teach at UEA to speak out if they feel that their employment situation is unfair. You can enjoy teaching, be grateful for the opportunities which are provided to you, respect senior members of your department and still ask to be treated fairly. It’s not a choice you should have to make. >> #TakeAStand is a campaign run by BUCS (British University Colleges Sport), the institution that organises leagues and sporting competitions between universities across the country. BUCS have discovered that a large number of students don’t participate in sport because they feel that the culture around certain clubs can be unwelcoming and intimidating. BUCS have also suggested that this negative image is – in part – fuelled by the damaging media coverage of university sport. In the past few years, several high-profile incidents involving university sports players have received a lot of attention from national media, and this has resulted in entire clubs – even entire sports – being negatively stigmatised. According to research done by the National Union of Students, this has dissuaded certain groups of students from being involved in sport. At UEA, we have a firm no-tolerance policy on racism, sexism, LGBTphobia, discriminatory behaviour and antisocial behaviour. uea|su endeavours to provide sports clubs with the support they need to tackle inequality, and to help team members increase access to their sport. Furthermore, I agree with BUCS when they suggest that #TakeAStand is not only about standing against discriminatory behaviour, but also about standing for university sport. Throughout my time at UEA, I have been proud to be a member of the swimming club and the Sports Executive Committee. Sports has the ability to unite people of all abilities, backgrounds and identities, and getting involved in the sports community at UEA, and representing UEA on a sporting level, has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had. I’m working with uea|su and the University to make sure our sporting community is represented for what it is – brilliant. Sports clubs can get involved by supporting the #TakeAStand campaign, challenging discrimination wherever they see it, and ensuring sports at UEA is something we can continue to be proud of. If you’re a member of a sports club and want to get involved in supporting #TakeAStand at UEA, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The #TakeAStand Charter 1. Every student who wishes to take part in sport at any level and in any capacity should be able to do so without fear of discrimination on any grounds and feel safe in any environment. 2. We will use clear disciplinary processes to ensure allegations of homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, xenophobia, racism, sexism, gender bias and all other forms of discrimination are dealt with fairly and transparently, to ensure that such negative behaviours are removed from the sporting environment (on and off the pitch) entirely 3. We pledge to maintain this standards across our sporting offer – from the lowest levels of grass-roots participation to the highest levels of elite competition – to ensure that non- inclusive behaviour is combatted wherever it is found and all those participating in University sport and physical activity are able to do so without fear of inclusion or derision 4. Every student should feel included and part of a team if they so wish. We will ensure that no sports club activity involves forced alcohol consumption, ‘initiation style’ behaviour or any derogatory activity 5. We agree to #TakeAStand against anti-social behaviour and discrimination in sport bursary or bust: why the fight isn’t over amy rust SU campaigns and democracy officer >> In the first week of starting work as Campaigns and Democracy Officer, the public consultation on the proposed reforms to NHS funded healthcare courses came to an end. uea|su submitted a strong, detailed report which reflected the views of our students and the uncertainty the proposed reforms would cause for both our current and future students. “as a union, we’re committed to working with the university and students” We opposed the cuts and still believe that Nursing, Midwifery and AHP students should not be forced to pay standard course fees whilst expected to work up to 37.5 hours per week over 50% of their course-length. Over the summer, I lobbied each of the local political parties represented in Westminster on this issue; Clive Lewis MP (Labour), Chloe Smith MP (Conservative) and Norman Lamb MP (Liberal Democrats). Whilst the reforms will provide around 25 percent more up front living cost support f o r students, we are concerned that this will reduce student diversity, and raise the level of student debt. This year I’ll be continuing my work with students and the university to campaign on the ongoing issues, especially securing the travel bursary from further cuts. On the other side of our medical faculty at UEA, the fight against the Junior Doctor contracts is now at the doors of individual trusts after campaigners lost a high court battle. This week, I’ve been speaking to our amazing on- campus radio station, Liverwire, discussing the new Junior Doctor contracts which are now being rolled across various NHS trusts in England. Although the government have won the right to introduce these contracts, they do not have the right to impose them. The focus is now on individual trusts and the Students’ Union will be lobbying local trusts to reject any implementation of the unfair contracts. As a union, we’re committed to working with the university and students from across the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences to ensure students’ academic interests are placed at the heart of their education. “we opposed the cuts” We’re done a lot together, but more can be done to support our students in this time of uncertainty and ensure the NHS has a strong and diverse workforce. world mental health day chris ball SU non portfolio officer >> It was World Mental Health Day last Monday, and as many of you would have seen, there was a Mental Health Matters Fayre in the LCR. There were dogs, bean bags, cakes, jewellery making, a ball pit and lots of other activities, as well as information stalls about support available in the city and on-campus. I could see the positive effects of the Fayre beginning on the day; with more students speaking about their own experiences, and learning about organisations or techniques they hadn’t heard of, we were already tackling the stigma which exists around mental health. The Fayre was a pleasure to organise, and I am so thankful for all of the volunteers who gave up their time to make the event the success it was. However, the Fayre was about so much more than the actual day. The concept of dedicating a single day to mental health is ludicrous. Mental health affects people every day of the year. In a recent survey, almost 80% of students said that they have faced mental health issues in the past year, with 33% facing suicidal t h o u g h t s , and these statistics only rise if you consider within a minority group. But what can we do about this on campus? Nightline (which has now moved to the bottom floor of the library) provides crucial peer support, and advice|su helps students deal with the financial and academic implications of their mental health. However, in instances where more long-term support is needed, it is the job of the Student Support Service (formerly DOS) to step in, and it is their services which are under the most pressure. They have seen a 52% increase in the demand for counselling, and in the same period, only received a 7% increase in their budget. I’m making sure uea|su keeps lobbying for better mental health support at UEA, but we need cooperation from the University to make sure that concrete improvements are implemented to meet the rising demand. Come World Mental Health Day next year, it will be interesting to see what tangible progress has been make in providing the crucial support that so many students need. domestic abuse at uea jo swo SU welfare, community and diversity officer >> When you picture domestic abuse, you rarely think of a University campus. But I know from personal experience that students can experience domestic abuse and that’s why I’m working with Leeway, a local charity, to see what we can do to help students at UEA. A common misconception with the term ‘domestic abuse’ is that is can only happen at home – and as students are often living away from home they are often not considered to be a vulnerable group. This needs to change, Domestic violence knows no boundaries of age - it can happen to anyone In 2010, NUS completed the Hidden Marks report. It found that one in seven respondents had experienced a serious physical or sexual assault during their time as a student. “help, or if you’re worried about a friend, you can find support at UEA” When patterns of domestic abuse develop in student relationships, they can be hard to recognise. Abuse escalates slowly, and can come in many forms. Many people think of clenched fists when we talk about domestic abuse, but it can be emotional, sexual, psychological and/or financial. I’m working with the University and uea|su to make sure that staff we raise awareness of these issues, and all staff are appropriately trained to recognise and respond to domestic abuse incidents. As domestic abuse is about power and control, victims often find it difficult to leave or speak about. This is why it is so important that we are in a position to reach out to students in these positions, and are prepared to react quickly and appropriately when a student asks for help. If you are experiencing domestic abuse, it is important to remember that you are not alone. This is not your fault and we will never blame or judge you. There is support available. “this needs to change, Domestic violence knows no boundaries of age - it can happen to anyone” Support If you need help, or if you’re worried about a friend, you can find support at UEA. You can contact me at j.swo@ uea.ac.uk. You can also contact advice|su at advicecentre@uea. ac.uk. If you live on campus and feel unsafe, you can contact UEA Campus Security. They can also advise you on how to secure temporary accommodation. Their general phone number is 01603 592352, but if there is any immediate danger you should call their emergency line on 01603 592222. If anyone is in any immediate danger, you should call 999. More information For more information about support available in Norfolk, head to the Leeway website, www. leewaysupport.org liberate my degree – pushing for equality and diversity in the curriculum theo antoniou-phillips SU undergraduate education officer >> Too often, certain students find themselves underrepresented in their curriculum. I’m calling on UEA to properly address equality and diversity within academia. At uea|su, liberation is at the heart of everything we do. We provide platforms for four liberation campaigns (Women, LGBT+, Students with Disabilities, Ethnic Minorities), all of which have their own autonomous democratic events, and have representatives that feed into all the work that the SU does. Our liberation officers work to make sure that these students’ voices are heard, and ensure that their institutions – both the SU and the University – work for them. However, too often these students find themselves underrepresented on their course. Academics do not represent them, they lack peer support, and the curriculum centres on identities which are not their own. As an LGBT+ English and American Literature student, I often noticed the lack of opportunities to study topics like q u e e r identities, q u e e r theory and queer literature. Though many academics acknowledge that the literary canon has wrongfully excluded LGBT+ writers and critics, comparatively little has been done to address this by making more inclusive reading lists. When I began speaking to other students from liberation campaigns, I found my experience was mirrored by other students’. M a n y b l a c k students a c r o s s UEA feel that the curriculum is white-taught and Euro-centric in content. Women across the institution face sexism in labs, seminars and within their academic work. For disabled students, being able to access teaching spaces and resources for education is a struggle, and they often find themselves underrepresented in lectures. Because of this, I am leading or facilitating campaigns to liberate degrees at UEA. From helping students ask ‘why is my curriculum white’ to tackling sexism in seminars, I’m fighting for equality and diversity at every level of the University – including course content. In the past, these debates have centred on the humanities courses. This year, I want to investigate equality across the institution – from Creative Writing to Maths, Health Sciences to Law. If you would like to get involved, or want to share your experiences, contact me at T.Antoniou- Phillips@uea.ac.uk. tic abuse develop in student relationships, they can be hard to recognise. Abuse escalates slowly, and can come in many forms. Many people think of clenched fists when we talk about domestic abuse, but it can be emotional, sexual, psychological and/or financial. I’m working with the University and uea|su to make sure that staff we raise awareness of these issues, and all staff are appropriately trained to recognise and respond to domestic abuse