An update from the GUSRC Executive on what we are doing to represent and support students.
Hello University of Glasgow students,
This is your regular update from the 4 sabbatical officers of the Students’ Representative Council: Ella (President), Mia (VP Education), Sam (VP Student Activities) and Eva (VP Student Support).
In these updates we report to you on the work that your student representatives and the SRC staff team have been doing to support you, represent you, and engage with you. We also let you know about upcoming projects and activities.
As we move into the second half of Semester 1, we have been focusing our efforts on:
- The potential for UCU strike action to take place soon and how we can best mitigate the impact on students,
- Working with the University, local authorities, and the other student bodies to discuss the measures in place to ensure student safety on campus,
- Organising and hosting a range of Fringe events for COP26 and encouraging students to engage with this unique opportunity,
- Providing advice and support for students who are still having issues with accommodation,
- Securing access to study space for the upcoming exam diet,
- Continuing to advocate for a variety of student positions on current and future learning and teaching practices,
- Planning for upcoming activities such as Movember, Alcohol Awareness Week and more.
At the base of the update are a list of contacts you can use to get in touch with us. Thank you for your time and we hope as the nights draw in and deadlines approach that you’re all doing well and looking out for one another. Remember that the SRC are here to support and represent you so please do reach out if you need our help.
Ella, Mia, Sam and Eva
GUSRC Executive 21/22
UCU Strike Action
In the past week we’ve been informed that members of the University and College Union (UCU) have been taking part in a ballot around potential strike action. Based on what we know so far, we expect that strikes, should they happen, will take place before the end of Semester 1 and so could potentially happen in the next few weeks. The UCU branch will be consulting its members on next steps so an announcement on whether the strikes or other industrial action will go ahead is expected by the end of this week. As a council, we will release a separate statement shortly regarding the issue and how we can best address it and support students in the event of strike action.
The reasons that the UCU cites for strike action are due to significant cuts to staff pensions, increasing casualisation (temporary and insecure contracts), and decreases to working conditions. You can find out more on the UCU website.
Since releasing a statement with the other student bodies we have continued to have regular discussions regarding the increased reports of spiking and gender-based violence. Recently, the Unions have informed us they’ve been working closely with Campus Security to increase surveillance and security staff presence on their respective club nights. We raised concerns about reports of congested queues and Union security moving students on from outside their buildings, both of which compromise students’ sense of safety when they’re waiting to organise transport home after a night out. The Unions agreed that they would look to address these issues. We have also been in contact with Police Scotland to try to gain an accurate account of spiking incidents in Scotland. Once we hear back, we will share these findings with students and use these to identify how best to tackle the issue going forward.
We are aware of the recent podcast by Aljazeera regarding the reports of abuse undertaken by a former member of University of Glasgow staff. While we did not intend to remain silent on the issue, we felt aggrieved by the need to yet again speak out on the ways that the University’s mishandling of complaints relating to gender-based-violence has failed to safeguard its students. This is not good enough, and we understand the severity of the situation and urgency needed to better protect, support, and believe students. We remain committed to tackling issues of gender-based-violence, but this podcast has been a crucial reminder that staff need to be as equally engaged in the conversation and campaign work as students. While we know the University has issued an external investigation into the matter, we’ll also remain in conversation with the University in relation to how their reporting and follow up supporting system can be amended and improved at all levels of the organisation.
Last week we launched Let’s Talk: an online Moodle module about gender-based violence that we developed in partnership with Rape Crisis Scotland. This Moodle module, which we intend to be compulsory for all students, was developed to give everyone the understanding of what healthy relationships are meant to look like, what consent is, what different forms of gender-based violence look like, and where support is if you need to find it. The module is designed to work alongside our existing Let’s Talk workshops which currently take place over Zoom. Through completing both the workshop and the module, you should gain a greater overall understanding of gender-based violence. The course should now be available on every student’s Moodle dashboard, and while we do expect this course to be compulsory for all students, we understand that this topic is highly sensitive, and some people may not be able to complete the whole thing. In that case we have developed an opt-out option on Moodle, so please use that if you need it.
We recognise that everything going on right now can be overwhelming and distressing, and you may need support. The SRC are always here to support you, so please reach out if you need us and remember that we have our SRC Advice Centre who can provide confidential and impartial advice on a range of subjects, including links to all of the support services available to you.
COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, has been in full swing over the past week. With the conference taking place on our doorstep, this is a once in a generation opportunity for University of Glasgow students to actively engage with the events and activities taking place across the city. All eyes are on Glasgow as people from around the world meet to discuss how we can tackle the climate crisis. Alongside our Clubs and Societies, we have been planning our COP26 Fringe which has seen a wide range of events related to the climate crisis and the environment available to all students. Events continue this week and include talks, walks quizzes on more – find out more on our website.
As a student body it’s imperative that we try to understand more about climate change and what we can do to make a difference, however, we’re also conscious that the conference has caused a fair share of disruption and issues locally. In particular, we were made aware of the danger posed by the temporary closure of Kelvin Way, which led to students being diverted through Kelvingrove park. Unfortunately, we were informed of this decision so late that there was no opportunity to discuss or contest this with Glasgow City Council. After discussing the potential issues with Campus Security they did agreed to have some members of staff in or close by to the park. They also encouraged everyone to download the SafeZone app, which will allow Security to access your location and come to your aid immediately when you hit a button alerting them of potential danger.
We understand that the issue of finding suitable accommodation, has for some, still not gone away. We remain hopeful that after the passing of COP there will be more accommodation available for those that have not yet managed to find somewhere. If this is not that case, however, we urge you to still reach out to the Advice Centre, and we can still work with you and your School to do what we can to accommodate learning if affected by precarious living conditions. We are also still in conversation with other student unions across Glasgow to work on a dialogue with the council about the issue.
Coming up to the exam and assessment season, we have managed to secure reserved study space for students that may not have their own living space due to room sharing or sofa surfing, if you could benefit from this, again please reach out to the Advice Centre: firstname.lastname@example.org
After hearing feedback about current issues with space in the James McCune Smith Learning Hub, we met with some of the relevant University staff and managed to secure swipe access to the building for the coming exam diet, meaning access should, for now, be restricted to UofG students.
Learning & Teaching
We continue to advocate for a variety of student positions on current learning and teaching on a daily basis, and from this the SRC’s comments continue to be heard at the highest levels of the University. Recently, this has taken the form of discussions around introducing more face-to-face teaching where possible, and the implications this may have for students still facing trouble securing permanent accommodation in Glasgow. We are also lobbying the University to ensure the UofG Life app is better utilised and that the ‘Find A Space’ feature is more accurate to real-time desk availability. We are also part of conversations around the future of inclusive exam provision for semester two and beyond. As always, we will keep you updated with any major developments when we receive them.
At the end of October, we held our first Council Meeting of the 2021/22 Academic Session. We were delighted to welcome our newly elected representatives onto the Council and we began the meeting by internally electing members to represent students on various University committees such as the Student Experience Committee and University Court. Over the course of the evening, we discussed a variety of the key issues that students have reported are important to them, including the accommodation crisis, safety on campus, UCU strike action, access to study space and approaches to learning and teaching in the future once the pandemic is over. The next Council Meeting will be held on November 18th.
Clubs and Societies
With a gradual return to more on-campus activity and relative normality, we are delighted that clubs and societies have been able to host an increased number of in-person events. As demand has increased, adequate access to room space on campus has been an ongoing issue that has not been helped by external factors such as COP26. The SRC has actively been campaigning to the University to implement provisions that allow for increased availability of spaces for clubs and societies.
Even with the current limited availability, we are working with the University to make the room booking process as transparent as possible. We want clubs & societies to have easy access to information highlighting all rooms available for use on campus, their facilities, and alternatives (if necessary) to make the room booking process simpler for all.
In partnership with the Raising and Giving committee, we are taking part in the annual Movember charity campaign as Team GUSRC and Team RAG. Throughout the month of November, these teams will be competing with others across the University to raise as much money as possible and raise awareness about men’s health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer, suicide, and mental health. Feel free to have a look and donate to people in the teams through the GUSRC or RAG teams. Last year during lockdown both teams combined raised nearly £4500 and this year we intend to do even better! We look forward to seeing this everyone’s moustache efforts and we encourage you to take part to raise money for a great cause.
Alcohol Awareness Week
We know that for many students, alcohol is a big part of student and university life. However, for many this can also bring its own challenges. As part of a wider harm-reduction campaign Eva and Ella are currently working on, we want to use Alcohol Awareness Week (November 15th-21st) to offer some activities and information about alcohol and its challenges, particularly focusing on the links to mental health.
We hope to encourage a de-stigmatisation of alcohol-related issues and provide students with the information and opportunity to reach support if they need it. In conjunction with Glasgow Council on Alcohol, the SRC will be running a support session with tea and biscuits for anyone that feels they are struggling with their relationship to alcohol or alcohol and their mental health. This will take place on Thursday the 18th November 5pm-6pm in the Williams Room of the McIntyre building, and tickets are available now (the max. capacity of the room is 30 people).
In the coming weeks, you can also look forward to:
- An extended calendar of Welcome and Welfare events
- Trans Day of Remembrance – November 20th
- Disability History Month – November 18th – December 3rd,
- And our bi-annual Exam De-stress campaign, beginning in December.
For general day-to-day enquiries, please contact us via email@example.com or message @glasgowunisrc over social media.
For free, confidential, and impartial advice on a range of issues including finances, studying, accommodation, wellbeing and more please contact the SRC Advice Centre: firstname.lastname@example.org
To find the email addresses of your council representatives, please visit our website: https://www.glasgowunisrc.org/representation/council/
Thank you for reading!