2014 has been another big year for the Students' Union, below we round up some of the big events and achievements our students, officers and staff have been involved in.
We want to thank everyone who has contributed to our activities this year whether as a voter, sports club committee member, Reception volunteer, Student Rep or any of the many ways students can get involved.
If you want to get involved in 2015 you can find out more about the opportunities on offer by browsing our website. Students will be electing a new Full-time and Part-time Officer team in March and nominating yourself is a fantastic way to take part and improve things for students. Find out more at www.sussexstudent.com/itcouldbeme.
Enjoy the holidays and we'll see you in 2015 - we've got lots planned!
Lyndsay, Rianna, Dan, Michael, Abe & Bethan
- The Full-time Officers 2014/15
In January we celebrated a major win for international students as Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) announced a commitment to a set of new and transparent service standards and were excited to announce our new venue in Brighton as we took over the management of The Globe. We took part in a national day of tweeting to highlight what we do and the disciplinary panel due to consider the case of four of the suspended students was disbanded following accusations of bias.
We gave best practice awards to a number of letting agents and landlords in February, marked LGBTQ History Month and campaigned against the sell-off of the student loan book. A record number of students voted in our spring elections and campus saw another day of strike action.
In March we celebrated Sussex Mental Health Awareness Day with a well-being tree, photography competition, mindfulness sessions, conversations and the premiere of a student-made film and worked with the University to launch the first ever One World Week at Sussex which was an amazing success. Student Reps attended a handover conference to share their ideas and improve the scheme and we launched SKINT, one of our most popular student nights, at The Globe in Brighton.
We concluded our zero tolerance campaign having achieved its aims and continued to work on our Associate Tutor campaign. As part of Green Week, students and staff took on waste challenges whilst Juliette, Education Officer, and Sophie, Welfare Officer, took on their own challenge by running the Brighton Marathon to raise money to support Sussex students.
In April we celebrated East Slope Bar’s 35th birthday with a party and a big cake! We’re lobbying the University to replace it with a bar run by the Students’ Union when it is demolished. We also held a party for student parents and their families on campus featuring an Easter egg hunt. We handed out a number of awards to students to celebrate our volunteer and staff members’ achievements. We also brought a big trophy home after our big win at Varsity - our annual sports competition against Brighton University.
May brought a number of sporting successes including the promotion of our women’s volleyball team and the traditional Deadline Day celebrations. We also achieved success in our campaign to make bus travel in the city cheaper and more suitable for students as Brighton & Hove Buses announced a number of improvements for students.
We released the early findings of our annual Rate Your Landlord research and published a report calling for equal access to study at Sussex for asylum seekers and those granted discretionary leave to remain in the UK. We also started work on a new website which we then launched over the summer and organised events and tips to help students get through exam season including bringing Sussex Caring Pets to campus.
We rounded off the academic year in June with two new projects: the launch of the Sussex Review, an online journal featuring work submitted by students and the announcement of the winners of our Student-led Teaching Awards. We joined students across the UK to lobby the government not to cut Disabled Students Allowance. We persuaded the University to introduce gender neutral toilets across the campus, a great success for our trans* student campaign then celebrated the end of the year and the release of finalists’ results with a big party at Falmer Bar!
In July, after the new officers had taken over, we shared the joint action plan on mental health with the University as part of our Time to Change mental health campaign. We took over Jubilee Square in Brighton to showcase the Union and our students to people living in the city and worked with students to find suitable replacements for Sanjeev Bhaskar when he was unable to attend the summer graduation ceremonies.
In August the Students’ Union become a hate crime reporting point for students who’d rather report hate crimes in a familiar environment rather than going to the police. RE:CYCLE Bike Co-operative got their own bike shed on campus next to the Swanborough residences. We were proud to see satisfaction with the Students' Union increase when the results of the National Student Survey were released.
We kicked off the new academic year in September with our Freshers Week events and the launch of Active US, our scheme to help you get active, before Bike Week celebrated life on two wheels. The Union employed 48 new student staff (and have employed more since). We were chosen to pilot the National Union of Students’ I <3 Consent campaign which aims to tackle myths, misunderstandings and problematic perspectives about rape, sexual consent and sexual harassment
October was Black History Month and featured a number of talks and events. We highlighted cases where students had teaching scheduled on Wednesday afternoons contrary to the University’s policy. We hit the news internationally with our Big Kiss-in to highlight and counter homophobia and recruited 14 Language Café leaders who lead our popular Language Cafés throughout the term.
We hosted three One World Sussex events: Día de Muertos, Eid and the beautiful Diwali celebration, plus we teamed up with the International Student Society and International Student Support team to host an International Food Party for students shared food from different countries and cultures. We asked students what they thought the big housing issues were in our housing forum and reviewed the University’s mitigating evidence system and started work on improving it to help students whose academic performance is affected by exceptional circumstances.
November brought the announcement that our lobbying of the bus company had resulted in a £3 student day bus ticket and saw discussions over new contracts for Associate Tutors continue alongside the launch of the Access Sussex campaign to improve the accessibility of the campus.
We presented the University’s Director of Finance with a letter signed by over 200 students challenging unexpected tuition fee rises and are continuing to work with the University on fairer and more transparent ways to set fees. We worked with the Sussex Centre for Language Studies to relaunch the Language Partner Exchange, which is now helping lots of students practice language learning.
We took part in the national free education demonstration in London with hundreds of students from Sussex, our elected Women's Officer and LGBTQ Officer attended the RISE national Conference on Violence Against Women and Girls and members of some of our sustainability and community action societies went to the national conference of Students for Cooperation.
In December students voted in referenda to change the Full-time and Part-time Officer roles and for the Union to become an accredited Living Wage employer.
Our Community Reps took part in Hollingdean Lucky Dip event to meet local residents and talk about shared community concerns and have been attending their Local Action Team meetings to increase local student representation. Union staff and officers refurbished the new Family Room for student parents and their children to use.
The end of term saw the expansion of our reuse scheme to allow students leaving campus to donate their unwanted goods and we officially launched our voter registration campaign. We were awarded almost £5,000 from the Brighton and Hove's Wellbeing Innovation Fund for the new Role Models project which brings together Sussex students, local year 8 students and support services in the city and have more than 752 students of more than 70 nationalities participating in our Buddy Scheme.
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