I cannot believe that it has been two months already! It only feels like yesterday when I took over the reigns from Fflur, and it is only sitting down writing this that has made me realise how much we have already done!
I will start off with the many conferences we have attended on your behalf!
We had SU16 in Liverpool at the start of July. We heard talks (my favourite of which was from Paralympian Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, an absolutely inspirational woman), attended workshops,the most informative for me was on interfaith, and finished up with an awards dinner. We won three of NUS UK’s Green Impact Awards; thanks to Mair Rowlands for all of her hard work towards this. We may have missed our call to the stage to collect the awards; which had absolutely no connection to the Wales vs Portugal match that was on at the same time (sorry, not sorry). We are incredibly proud nonetheless!
Ifan, UMCB President and I, then attended ‘Lead and Change' an NUS UK event designed to provide training in specific Sabb roles. We took part in educational sessions, I found the session on housing the most useful and look forward to implementing some of the ideas. We networked with other Presidents; my tutor group mainly consisted of Scottish Students' Union Presidents; you can't imagine how much fun that was! I even took part in some karaoke having found out it is practically a legal requirement for Welsh SU Presidents to sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (the Welsh national anthem for the uninitiated) when we get together!
Then to finish up we had Y Talwrn, NUS Wales’ first event. We learned about NUS Wales and how it differs to NUS UK, the Welsh HE sector, and what the future might hold, networked with other Welsh SUs, and participated in a lot of dancing; it seems like what NUS UK does for karaoke, NUS Wales does for dancing!
Now, onto the work we have done and the work we are preparing to do.
We have now collated all of the survey data we collected from students on hidden course costs. The University has done the same with academics, to find out from their perspective which hidden course costs affect students most as they have a wealth of on-the-ground experience to draw from. As a result we are now ready to meet with the University to see what changes can be made to reduce hidden course costs for students.
We have begun the process of increasing Undeb Bangor's online and offline presence. I have increased my social media activity, some of you may have seen our Sabb team live stream on A-Level results day! I now have my own Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ready to go in September! We have created a new student survival guide to replace our old student handbook and we can’t wait for you all to see it! I also intend to make sure my ‘open door’ policy is in place from day one of the next academic year as I want to be there for when you need me!
I am currently taking an intensive look at our governance structures; on how we can build upon the great work that they have allowed us to produce and what can be done to ensure that they are as representative of our student body as possible. This is why efficiency and effectiveness and the further empowerment and support of our liberation campaigns has been at the forefront of my mind during this process. In regards to the latter, I have already held discussions with representatives from some of our liberation campaigns on how best we can go about this and will soon have held discussions with all liberation campaigns.
Helen, VP Education and Welfare, and I have begun to plan a joint approach to how we can change student housing in Bangor for the better. We initially had very different methods in mind, but by working together, we are finding the perfect balance between the two. I won’t go into detail now, as I want our method to be set before I start discussing it, but there are a lot of cogs in motion! I believe changes in this area will be the hardest to achieve, but I am as confident as ever that we shall be able to improve the situation for students, it will just be a matter of time and effort.
We have begun to look into what is required for clubs/societies to go into local schools to give sessions/talks. This could lead to greater sponsorship opportunities, by increasing exposure of clubs and societies, and hopefully enrich the education of the school pupils. We've also been looking into how we can get student representation on local decision making bodies, I intend to raise this at the next BULG (Bangor University Liaison Group) meeting I attend. I believe these two changes are a great way to start bringing together the student and local communities closer.
Following a brilliant suggestion from one of our students (cheers Louise Fell!), I have liaised with the University and am now putting together a proposal, along with Helen, to try and get Nap Pods installed in the main University libraries. The impact on students' physical/mental health and academic performance would be overwhelmingly positive.
I attended Iftar at the Bangor Islamic Centre during Ramadan a number of times. I would like to thank everyone who was in attendance during my visits for their unending hospitality and friendliness, their expansion of my knowledge about Islam, and some of the best food I have had in a while! I would recommend anyone reading this to attend next year!
So to close.
After two months, I can wholeheartedly say that the planning necessary for me to achieve (or at the very least attempt to the best of my ability) my goals has been, by and large conducted – and that I am now as ready as I can be for the next academic year.
I am looking forward to welcoming our new students to Bangor – prepare for the best years of your life!I can't wait to catch up with our returning students! See you all in September!