Posted on Mon 14 Nov 2016 at 14:14 by Ffion Jones
‘Sabbs do nothing all day though.’
It’s been a good while since I last wrote a sabb update, so bear with, this may be a long one. Welcome week was crazy, hectic, draining (sorry if you saw make up less helen dragging her sorry bum around campus on 3 hours sleep) but mostly a lot of fun. It’s been so nice to just have students around Bangor and put an end to the ghost town it was over summer.
I introduced welfare on wheels and took a cart of fruit, water, condoms and student handbooks round which was definitely most appreciated by students on the stalls throughout serendipity. The serendipity highlight for me was holding baby tarantulas and scaring the rest of the sabb team, and later beating them and Professor Carol Tully in a race to the top of the climbing wall. A lot of this time was also spent running around first year lectures talking about Undeb Bangor, and specifically the course rep system. This was really effective and a great way to meet new students directly, I’ve been stopped by students a couple of times around campus (referred to as ‘course rep girl’) to chat more about the programme and from it we’ve now got even more engaged reps who are confident in coming into Pontio if they have a problem.
We then had our general meeting which gave students a chance to hear what we’ve been up to and ask any questions. I still thoroughly dislike public speaking, so this was a bit more of a personal challenge for me, but we got through it in the end.
At the beginning of October I rolled out ‘Mind Your Head’ mental health campaign week. I organised activities in the union every day alongside information and guides for friends on understanding different diagnoses. I updated the little red books to include mental health emergency numbers and welfare tips to be handed out, and I also worked with student services to get mental health emergency flow chart diagrams out, showing what to do in the day and in the evening or on weekends when getting help is the most difficult. Activities included Lego therapy, giant colouring, a mind wall drawing things that make you happy, inner child day with games and face painting outside, dance therapy, yoga and build a buddy box; allowing students to make a self care package for themselves or friends. It was a challenging week, but when one student got teary eyed knowing that we really do care, it made it all worth it. The elephant in the room was a major part of the campaign with a bunch of willing volunteers dressed up in our wonderful elephant costume, and walking around campus and in lectures to get students talking about ‘the elephant in the room.’ As strange as it sounds, students loved it and it was definitely a talking point, with lots of people approaching for a quick cuddle. I also worked with a bunch of incredible students and filmed a video with them openly and honestly talking about their own mental health. The video was a huge success and has had so many great responses and hopefully encouraged many people to start the conversation.
I’ve been taking part in NSS Action planning, working with students and staff from their schools looking through the data from the national student survey and talking about what can be done to improve any problematic areas. This has been in partnership with the university's student engagement department and the new Together We scheme that ensures students are involved in every decision in the university. I’ve been doing more work with student engagement to recruit and interview a panel of student reviewers to review courses and ensure that we’re providing a high standard of education across the board.
After encouraging students to run in course rep elections, myself and Rob the course rep coordinator have been running both new and returner course rep training. This has provided students with all the information they’ll need to know to carry out their new role and to develop their skills, initiative and teamwork. We worked hard to ensure that it was more engaging and active this year and we’ve had some great feedback from it. Following on from this we held our first Course Rep Council, holding elections for the new course rep exec committee. Students said they found our group discussion activities really beneficial so we’ll hopefully be continuing these on in future.
UNDEB held the autumn elections for Undeb Bangor Council, and I was lucky enough to be voted in as an NUS Wales delegate, pretty exciting really, and I’m really looking forwards to ensuring our priorities are heard and developed on a bigger scale. My most recent saturday was spent talking about Undeb Bangor at the university open day, and it was a really nice chance to speak to new prospective students. Mostly, it made me feel old, how am I now a working adult when it only feels like yesterday when I was doing the same? One girl said she was really looking forwards to coming as she feels like she’ll get more support here particularly with her mental health and hoped I would still be here when she arrived. (I hope so too… hint hint.) I got to talk about all the cool things the union does and even from my own personal perspective, mentioning Splodge kids club with volunteering that still has my heart and even amongst all the crazy, I’m still attending every week.
But possibly most importantly, WE HAVE NEW STAFF! The team have been recruiting and filling new roles in the union to ensure students are supported in every aspect, and I’m really excited to see how the union develops in the following year. Right now I’m working on a housing campaign focussing on educating students of their rights as tenants, but I’ll tell you more about that next time.
If you’ve made it to the end of this, congrats (no really, you deserve a medal you’re clearly very keen and you should come chat to me about getting more involved) but you’re probably wondering why the title ‘sabbs do nothing.’ Well, to the student that recently claimed that ‘sabbs do nothing’ I hope this proves otherwise. We really do work tirelessly to support you as students, it’s a long and tiring job, and it’s not all the fun we post about. So if you see another sabb looking a bit down, why not give take a minute to say that you appreciate them and their hard work (if you do that is. If you don’t, I don’t know why you’re still reading really…) And with that, I’m off to another meeting.