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Annual priorities update

Each academic year, our Full-Time Officer team set their priorities for the year, based on the pledges made in their manifestos. Here is an update on the progress they have made on their priorities.

Frida Gustafsson - President
Frida’s priorities for this year are to make commuting to campus easier and cheaper, create a book resale website for students and make the Students’ Union more transparent and better represent the views of students.

We successfully launched the book market in March this year, now with over 150 books listed for sale. This is already helping students save money on costly textbooks for their course and also helping protect the environment.

Students voted in a referendum to introduce a new Union policy to lobby Brighton and Hove Buses on reducing fares, as part of our goal to make travelling to campus cheaper. In addition, the Union was awarded £8,000 from the Sussex Fund for the Re:Cycle society to renovate their bike shed, and fund repairs, tools and bikes. The Union also successfully lobbied the University to introduce new bike racks onto campus, and continue to do so to make cycling to campus as easy as possible.

The Union has worked to make Union Council more accessible by creating a help guide for Union Councillors. Frida also organised a well-attended student forum during the UCU strike action to help keep students informed and make sure their voices were heard, and launched The Loop, a new way for students to provide feedback to the Union. We are now looking into embedding the system further into the way the Union works and encourage more student reps to complete it.

Sarah McIntosh - Postgraduate Education Officer
Sarah’s priorities for this year are improving mental health for postgraduate students, creating a ‘Protestival’ to celebrate 50 years of student activism and supporting the Degrees, Not Fees campaign.

In April, the Union hosted a three-day ‘Protestival’, celebrating student activism with an alumni event, live music events from Captain Ska and Grace Petrie and an academic conference organised with the Student Movement Research Project.

In addition, significant progress has been made in ensuring mental health training is provided to all frontline staff on student panels. The proposal put forward by Sarah to the University has been approved by the University's Doctoral School and have begun work on implementing it into their staff training. The University's Teaching and Learning Committee also were positive about the idea and have passed the proposal on to their Time to Change action group for further recommendations. Their additions to the proposal will be put to next Teaching and Learning Committee in May. The Students’ Union have also expanded the Buddy Scheme to PhD students and organised a PhD and Postgraduate Coffee Morning during Refreshers Week.

The Union has also helped mobilise a student-led campaign at Sussex on scrapping tuition fees and has conducted research into how it could work and has worked in other countries.

Grainne Gahan - Welfare Officer
Grainne’s priorities for this year are creating a Welfare Forum for Student Reps to share concerns and issues, setting up a ‘Good Night Owls’ scheme to provide help to students in town on Wednesday nights, and lobby the University to scrap the automatic cap on resits.

The Good Night Owls scheme is now up and running with 20 volunteers, with more first aid training place this term. Grainne is now preparing plans for how the scheme will run in the next academic year.

The Students’ Union has also set up a Welfare Forum, being organised once a term as a space for Student Reps to flag up any welfare issues and discuss ideas to better promote welfare within their schools.

Grainne submitted a paper to the University proposing the removal of the automatic cap on resits and the University is now planning to conduct a review of exceptional circumstances.

Aisling Murray - Society and Citizenship Officer
Aisling’s priorities for the year are to improve the Food Waste Cafe by finding a permanent location for food preparation, create a tenants’ union in Brighton, and increase community volunteering opportunities for students.

With help from the local community and activist groups, the Students’ Union has brought people together to create a tenants’ union in Brighton. More than 100 people turned out for the union’s launch event and has organised a range of similar events and provided support for many people with issues with their landlords.

After a struggle at the beginning of the academic year to find a permanent venue to prepare food for the Food Waste Cafe, we are now set up in the Bridge Cafe. After having the Food Waste Cafe successfully return last month, we are now looking to set up a food collection point on campus for people to donate unwanted food and find a sustainable model for the project in the future.

Aisling has also been working hard on increasing volunteering opportunities after holding a successful volunteering Freshers Fair. The Union has been working with the local council to collect information about volunteers and what they do now and continue to look into local opportunities that students can help in.

Lulah Strathearn Brady - Undergraduate Education Officer
Lulah’s priorities for the year are to make the University’s assessment system fairer and more inclusive, create equality in access and opportunity and improve support for international students.

The Students’ Union has now hired a part-time Mandarin translator, who has already begun work to ensure that we can reach out, engage with and better support international students. We have already been doing this through translating posters and posts on social media.

After lobbying by the Students’ Union, the University has created an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit. We have also, along with students, lobbied University management on committing to long-term funding to cover costs previously met through the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) and they have now agreed to provide a £20 subsidy per week for students requiring alternate accommodation.

The Union has been also lobbying the University to change the automatic cap on resits and introduce a disability expert on the reasonable adjustments panel.  As well as this, the University is also conducting a review into the exceptional circumstances and reasonable adjustments procedures, following meetings with the Students’ Union to make the system fairer.

Lucy Williams - Activites Officer
Lucy’s priorities for the year are to improve disability sports provision at Sussex, create a Varsity-style event for students and make sure Sussex is a place for everyone.

The Union has changed the way referenda work to ensure they require a minimum turnout of 10% to be binding. We’ve also made sure your Officers are always reaching out to you and supporting the activities that students lead. We are also in the process of making sure more students are aware of the activities and support the Students’ Union offers to students so we can reach out and help more people studying at Sussex.

As well as this, the Union successfully hosted the Sussex Cup, a Varsity-style event pitting current students against alumni in different sports. Due to how well the event went, the University have now shown willingness to allow Varsity to return next year. Lucy is now in discussion with Brighton University and their students’ union to see whether they are also interested.


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