Mark Barrow, President
Hello everyone. I hope you have had an enjoyable semester, and that you are looking forward to a well-earned break over the Christmas holidays.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the last few weeks have been incredibly busy for Undeb Bangor, and there is still a lot more to come before the end of semester one! I’ll highlight some main points here, but do feel free to get in touch with me if you’d like more clarity or information.
University and College Union (UCU) strikes
I’m sure that you’re aware of the strike action taking place in Bangor by some members of UCU. The striking began on 25th November, lasting until 4th December. Undeb Bangor supports the rights of staff at the University to take action on issues that affect them and their members. However, our priority is our students and we are working with the University to mitigate against any adverse effects that strike action might have on students.
For further information about the strikes, you can find a Q&A page on our website: https://www.undebbangor.com/strikeqanda/. Do feel free to get in touch with us if you feel that you have been adversely affected. Our Academic Caseworker is also happy to speak to you if you would like to make a complaint about being personally affected.
Bangor Student Survey
Our Bangor Student Survey has been launched and will close on the 7th of January 2020. We are asking questions on everything from your academic experience to their wider student experience. Taking part in the survey leads to evidence-led recommendations being made to the University and through our Student Experience Report.
Please do spend a few minutes filling in the survey to inform your Students’ Union on what you’d like us to be working on. You may also be in with a shout of winning one of our great prizes!
Student-led Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy
We are very pleased to have launched our new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which has been completely informed by the student body. We officially launched it during our Destresstival campaign, but will be further promoting it during Study Aid, which is taking place during the January exam period.
This innovative strategy will let the University know what exactly causes poor mental health and wellbeing for students, besides what preventative measures could be put in place to reduce poor mental health. This is in addition to letting the University know what more could be done to help students who are suffering. It is only right that such a strategy is led and directed by students, which is why we are very pleased to be launching it.
Volunteering Social Impact Report
You may be aware that we have been working on compiling a Social Impact Report based on the breadth of our volunteering projects. This report will showcase the massive benefits that volunteering has upon students, and the local community in Bangor.
I’ve already let different areas of the University know about it, and we will be using it to promote the excellent work that takes place in Student Volunteering Bangor (SVB). It can also be the basis for generating positive news stories, which will help show local people how much Undeb Bangor does for the community.
‘Green Gown’ Awards and Think Before you Drink
Over the past year, we have been working collaboratively with the University’s Catering team and the Sustainability Lab in producing the Think Before you Drink campaign. This campaign focuses on what Bangor University has done to make its catering products and outlets more sustainable, such as by reducing waste. One example of the work done in this area was to make available Bangor University-branded reusable hot drink mugs, and by introducing a 10p discount when customers use reusable mugs.
The campaign was a finalist at the annual Green Gown awards, which took place in Glasgow on 26th November. The awards recognise innovative ways that UK Higher Education institutions have attempted to be more sustainable. Despite now winning the award, being recognised at this level was a huge credit to the work that has gone into the campaign.
This campaign is only one example of how Undeb Bangor has been working on the sustainability agenda. Since Bangor University accepted our request of declaring a Climate Emergency, we have been holding them to account on making positive changes. Undeb Bangor has also been playing its part, such as by installing a Teracycle bin for single-use plastic waste.
Community Waste Visits
Towards the end of this semester, we will be going around Bangor and visiting student properties. This is with the intention of letting students know how to manage their waste effectively, and by specifying what items can be recycled in this area. It is also an opportunity to order new recycling bins, should any students need them, and to find out when your waste is collected.
Don’t Panic Housing Campaign
Earlier in November, Undeb Bangor and the University’s housing team launched our Don’t Panic campaign, which is aimed at letting students know that they shouldn’t rush into signing up for a property, but should take their time to have a look around before making a decision.
Later in this academic year, we will be doing more work on housing. This will include further promotion of our Marks Out of Tenancy house reviewing platform, and by launching our Landlord Awards. These are a great opportunity to recognise the great work carried out by many of Bangor’s landlords to make their student tenants feel welcome and appreciated.
As previously mentioned, much of my time is spent attending University committee meetings, to ensure that the student body if fully represented.
On 28th November, for example, I attended a University Strategic Development Day, which focused on the University’s strategic direction. I also attend many high-level meetings where the running of the University is discussed, in conjunction with Bangor’s main strategic priorities. These include the Academic Strategy Group, and the Employability Strategy Group.
As ever, do feel free to get in touch with me, and I look forward to seeing you soon.