Bethan Hunt and Rose Taylor
The 2016 Student Rep Conference was a huge success and an opportunity for student reps at all levels of study and across all subject areas to get to know each other and to gain valuable skills that will help them with the representation and campaigning work that they do.
We were lucky enough to be joined by Sorana Vieru, Vice President Higher Education at NUS, who opened up the conference with her welcome speech. She spoke of the importance of student reps in improving student experience, particularly at a time when our education system is under threat of marketisation due to the government’s recent Higher Education Green Paper (not sure what this is? Reps play a hugely vital role in ensuring that education at Sussex is student led.
The afternoon continued with five great workshops:
Liberate My Degree - This was an introduction to NUS liberation work and is designed to enable reps to understand the concept of education barriers. In this session we looked at some of the actions that student reps can take to tackle education inequality.
What is Decolonising the Curriculum? - This workshop, run by I, too, am Sussex, was an introduction to their work on decolonising education. Students were able gain an understanding and discuss how their identity has shaped their educational experience.
I Heart Consent - You may have noticed badges, mugs and t-shirts around campus with the I Heart Consent logo on. This is one of the Students’ Union campaigns which aims to tackle myths, misunderstandings and problematic perspectives about sexual consent and sexual harassment. This workshops gave reps the chance to understand these issues and think about how the knowledge gained could be used in their rep work.
Campaign training - This session, run in collaboration with Make Change Happen, equipped reps with some basic campaigning tools including power mapping and recognising your allies. Student Reps often don’t see themselves as ‘campaigners’ but much of the work that they do does actually involved some kind of campaigning. In building up these skills, reps were empowered to continue to make positive changes to their education.
Leadership training - Finally, in this workshop reps could find out what kind of leader they are and could explore their leadership identity.
To end the day we had more cake and sandwiches than any of us could eat and had a chance to reflect on the day’s activities!
We want to say a huge thank you to all of the students who attended; by coming along to the conference you have ensured that you have the tools that you need to continue to make everyone’s experience at Sussex great!
If you are not a rep, please make sure you say a big thanks to your Student Rep as they give up their time and work hard to improve things for you!
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