Society and Citizenship Officer
The Society and Citizenship Officer represents students in matters relating to active citizenship, community engagement, and ethical and environmental action.
Learn about the other officers »
Sarahs blog entries:
Development Studies Postgraduate
Go Bananas for Gibbons!
I came to Sussex to do my MA in Development Studies, I loved studying at Sussex and living in Brighton and when I saw the role of Society and Citizenship Officer it seemed the perfect role, combining two things that I really care about: community engagement and environmental action. I have absolutely loved being the Society & Citizenship Officer over the past 8 months, exploring ways that the role can develop, building links with community groups and lobbying for change with the University. There are so many things I would love to carry on working on and a lot I feel I can still achieve if re-elected.
If re-elected these are my promises to you:
There’s a housing crisis in Brighton and I want to do something about it! Too many students were left with inadequate or no housing options this year and I’ve been working with both the University and the council over the past few months to work out some solutions.
If re-elected I will:
- Lobby the University to ensure it can commit to house 100% of new students who come to Sussex, irrespective of when they apply for accommodation or when students get an offer.
- Help make Sussex Student Lettings bigger, so the SU can offer more housing with affordable rent, no agency fees and a good service from landlords.
- Lobby the University to run a bus service from the greater Brighton area to campus, allowing students to live in areas with more affordable housing without having to get multiple buses.
- The Union already runs a successful Rate Your Landlord survey and uses the results to put pressure on agencies and landlords to improve the quality of their properties and the service they provide. I want to continue to work with the council to make the Rate Your Landlord survey open for everyone in Brighton, to put pressure on rogue landlords and produce a city-wide ranking system for letting agents.
- This year I arranged energy advice sessions for students during Go Green Week, the advisors give tips on how to cut your energy bills, save money and stay healthy over the winter months. I want these to be offered as standard to all students when they move from University managed property to the private rented sector.
A Sustainable University
Sustainability is important to the student body at Sussex. If re-elected these are my commitments for ensuring that the SU and the University is taking steps to reduce its impact on the environment and contribute positively to a clean energy future.
Following the lead of the Real Junk Food Project, I want to set up a food waste café on campus, using surplus food from catering outlets that would have otherwise gone to waste, on a pay as you feel basis.
This year I backed the student-led campaign Fossil Free, lobbying the University to take its money out of fossil fuels. If re-elected I will continue to put pressure on the University and ensure they commit to taking their money out of dirty fossil fuels.
Recycling facilities in halls are terrible, I will continue to work with the Estates and Facilities department to ensure every kitchen has a recycling box, taken away weekly.
Campus is growing and so I will ensure that the new masterplan includes buildings with solar panels and grey water systems, starting with the new Union building.
Work with People and Planet to push the University to sign up to the Workers Rights Consortium and Electronics Watch to ensure that all University clothing and electronics are made in factories that respect workers’ rights. Following in the footsteps of Transport for London, Edinburgh and Leeds University who are already signed up.
This year I lead on a successful Go Green Week with lots of events ranging from energy advice sessions, a coffee morning and a sustainability crawl. Building on this commitment, if re-elected I want to embed ‘green’ events into the calendar of events in the SU and work closely with societies to do so.
I want to provide support for students who are interested in setting up or are already part of co-operatives. This is inspired by a summer training event that I am currently helping to organise with Mutual Aid in Sussex and the Free University.
Students are an important part of the Brighton community and I want all students to feel like residents, take part in local decision-making and have a sense of belonging in Brighton and Hove. This year I have represented Sussex students on a number of forums and made links with a number of local community groups. If re-elected I want to continue to build on these connections and make sure the SU is acting as a catalyst for building positive community relationships.
Support a bid to employ a Community Organiser for the Students’ Union, this role would be dedicated to listening to the concerns of students and residents and inform the work that SU does on building positive relationships between the two.
Lead on the existing Your Voice, Your Choice campaign and ensure that the great work that Bethan has done so far continues. This campaign aims to encourage students to engage with political action outside of a general election cycle in relation to local, national and international politics.
Set up a community-cooking course, where residents and students cook together, share skills and build positive relationships.
This year I conducted research that asked which type of activities bring about the best results in terms of students and residents feeling positive about their community. I want to use the results to drive the strategy of the Students’ Union community engagement work, ensuring that the work we do is bringing about the most positive change.
Continue to build relationships with Brighton Student Union and local community groups, working together on events to encourage students and residents to build positive relationships. This year I have been regularly meeting with Brighton SU and I believe together the two SU’s can do great things by working together.