Regular Update - September

Your regular update from the SRC.

Content warning: Gender-based Violence

Hello University of Glasgow students,

This is your regular update from the Students’ Representative Council (SRC).

In these updates we report to you on the work your student representatives and the SRC staff have been doing to support, represent, and engage with you. We also let you know about upcoming projects and activities, including new volunteering opportunities and events.

It’s hard to believe we are already at the end of September and in week 3 of the new academic session. Since our last update, we have had a changeover of Sabbatical Officers and so introductions are in order for the new team: we’re Rinna, Katie, Hailie and Micaela and we’ll be your SRC Executive for the upcoming year!

Welcome Week was a blast and it’s shaping up to be a busy semester. We’re aware of a number of key issues affecting students right now, including the crises of accommodation and cost of living, and in our updates below we’ll aim to address any concerns you may have and point toward support. In this newsletter we will be:

  • Updating you on the work we’re continuing to do around the student accommodation crisis,
  • Sharing information on the Cost of Living situation and the support that’s available,
  • Expressing our support and solidarity for the Unison strikes that took place this week,
  • Condemning the recent incidences of racist graffiti on campus,
  • Looking forward to our upcoming Autumn Council Elections this month,
  • Reflecting on an extremely successful Welcome Week 2022,
  • Welcoming our new cohort of class representatives for the year ahead,
  • Reminding you of the Gender-based Violence support and educational resources available,
  • Learning from and responding to the important work of our Advice Centre, including their latest casework and advancements in policy and campaigning around the student accommodation crisis,
  • Encouraging students to engage with our Club & Admin team and make use of the support and services they provide including the newly launched SRC App,
  • Sharing the fantastic opportunities available from our SRC Volunteering service,
  • As well as making you aware of what’s going on at The Gilchrist Postgraduate Club, and our exciting plans for Black History Month.

At the base of the update are a list of contacts you can use to get in touch with us. Remember that the SRC are here to support and represent you, so please do reach out if you need our help.

Yours,
Rinna, Katie, Hailie, Micaela

GUSRC Executive 22/23

 

Updates:

Student Accommodation

In August, we were disappointed to find out that the University would not be able to accommodate all first year students that had applied for a room in University halls. Partly due to a wider housing crisis in the city, there was also an increased number of Postgraduate students who hoped to secure a place in University accommodation but were not given a room. After a similar accommodation crisis last year, we have continuously addressed the issue with the University and pushed them to critically assess student numbers and do what they can to avoid situations like this.

This will remain one of our main priorities and we will continue to encourage the University to manage student numbers accordingly and take action to support all those students that have been impacted. Our Advice Centre can give you guidance on the different options you have if you have been affected by this situation and this information is also available on our website.

 

Cost of Living

We have been working together with the University to find ways to support students through the Cost of Living crisis. Over the Summer, we formed a Cost of Living Action Group with the University and we are pleased that they have committed an additional £100,000 to the Hardship Fund and have also given additional funding to the Discretionary Fund to ensure the amount available has risen in line with inflation.

Today a publicity campaign launched aiming to raise awareness of all the support that is available. If you’re struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out for support and apply for the funding that exists. You can find the cost of living support pages here. If you need any help with applying for extra funding, please don't hesitate to get in touch with our Advice Centre: advice@src.gla.ac.uk.

 

Strike Action

Photo credit: Unison UofG

At the beginning of this week, University of Glasgow staff in the trade union ‘Unison’ took part in industrial action over fair pay and working conditions. This included cleaners, administrators, librarians, support staff as well as UofG Sport staff who run the Stevenson Gym and Garscube Sports Complex. 

Often the work of these staff members is underappreciated, underpaid, and undervalued, however, without their efforts the University would simply not be able to function. These members of staff played a key role in keeping our University open during the pandemic and keeping our campuses clean and safe when it was the most crucial, yet the sector has experienced wage stagnation over the past decade that has left many struggling. These workers are amongst those who are hit the hardest by the cost-of-living crisis and therefore we believe that their pay should reflect the importance of their work. 

As we encouraged previously throughout the UCU (University and College Union) strikes last academic year, we invite students to engage with the context and discussion around this strike and further action taken by Unison members. We understand that the disruptions this action may have caused can be an inconvenience for students and we do not aim to dismiss this. However, we want to reiterate our view that the University should do everything in its power to address the root causes of the need to strike at present and in the future. 

 

Racist Graffiti

We have been made aware of incidences of racist and discriminatory graffiti targeted at Chinese students both on our campus and elsewhere in the city. We are both disappointed and disgusted by these actions, and wish to offer our solidarity and support to all students affected by this. Campus security have been briefed to both regularly and thoroughly check for any additional occurrences, and will remove these on sight. However, we would ask that if you do become aware of any further graffiti of a discriminatory nature that you reach out to the campus security team directly.  

If you have encountered racial discrimination on campus, or any sort of hate crime, you can report this via the University’s reporting tool. If you are looking to escalate this further, or experience either an urgent or non-urgent hate crime on or off Campus, we would advise you to check out this helpful guide by Citizens Advice Scotland on how to report this to the Police. The University of Glasgow should be a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment for all students, and we at the SRC are committed to ensuring that this is the case. If you would like further advice or support with any of the above, please reach out to our SRC Advice Centre.

 

Elections

It has been a very exciting time for the past couple of weeks with our election nominations open from 16th to 30th September. We are delighted to have seen great levels of enthusiasm from students as they put themselves forward for our academic, welfare, and general representative positions.

If you want to know more about our candidates, you have an opportunity to hear about their visions for the year and ask them any questions at our hustings that will take place on Wednesday 12th October at 6pm. Voting takes place on Thursday 13th October 9am – 5pm and we encourage all of you to use your voice and vote! All registered University of Glasgow students are entitled to vote for your different constituencies. If you missed the nominations this time, don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways to get involved with the SRC throughout the year including our Spring elections in March, as well as through volunteering which you can read more about below.

 

Welcome Week

We’re pleased to report that our 2022 Welcome Week activities were a great success! We were delighted to welcome so many new and returning students to the university. We hosted a wide array of daytime events including campus tours and trips, scavenger hunts, talks and panels, student mixers, online socials and numerous coffee/pizza mixers. Our evening events such as our welcome ceilidh, headphone disco, jazz evening, and our screening in the quads of Mamma Mia were also big hits and attended by hundreds of new and returning students.

We collaborated with many societies to host events such as taster sessions, workshops, discussions, picnics, and performances throughout the week. Our welcome address was finally held with a full audience in person for the first time in 3 years, and our 2-day welcome fair had over 10,000 attendees who we were delighted to introduce to our wide array of clubs and societies (and free pizza)! We also hosted online events such as a pub quiz, ‘find a friend’ mixer and an online scavenger hunt for students not yet on campus.

We had over 100 student volunteers who helped us run all our events and ensured the week was welcoming to all. Thank you to everyone who came along in person or engaged with any of our online events, it was wonderful to connect with you all. We can’t wait to see you at our events throughout the year and of course the January Welcome in semester 2.

 

Class Reps

We would like to extend a warm welcome to the new cohort of SRC class representatives! Class representatives are elected during the first 3 weeks of the term in classes and programmes across the university, following which they will receive formal training from the SRC on student representation. These elected students help inform course leaders of common issues facing students. They can also bring recurring problems to the attention of the SRC Council and Sabbatical Officers, who will lobby the university for positive changes. You can find out who your class and school representatives are on the MyGlasgow Student Portal.

 

Gender-based Violence Support

All students deserve to be safe and respected during their time at university. If you have been affected by sexual violence or know someone who has, please know that you do not have to deal with it alone. There is, independent, non-judgemental, sensitive support available both on and off campus.

Support on campus

The SRC Advice Centre have a dedicated page on sexual violence which contains advice on what to do and how to access support from specialist organisations who can help you if you are a survivor of sexual violence. Or if you would prefer, you can come in to the SRC Advice Centre and speak in confidence with a fully-trained, professional,  Gender-based Violence Counsellor who runs drop-in sessions every Tuesday out of the McIntyre Building. You can book an appointment for one of the drop-in sessions on the SRC website.

Additional support available off campus

The two most useful local specialist organisations in the aftermath of sexual assault are the Archway Sexual Assault Referral Centre, located at 6 Sandyford Place, and Glasgow & Clyde Rape Crisis – helpline 08088 000014. Or you can contact the Rape Crisis Scotland helpline every evening from 17:00 – 00:00 on 08088 010302.

In terms of building an understanding of GBV, the SRC can also help. We run a longstanding workshop called ‘Let’s Talk about Sexual Violence’ -a student-led 90 minute session which covers topics including: the impacts of sexual violence; survivors’ stories and ways to build a supportive community; consent - what it means, what the law says, and practicing it; bystander intervention - how to safely and comfortably intervene; and where to find support. Find out more about the Let’s Talk workshops on the SRC website.

In addition to the workshop and designed to accompany it, there is also an online Moodle module about GBV developed by the SRC which we encourage students to check out. This Moodle module was created to give everyone an 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. You can access this from your Moodle dashboard.

 

The Advice Centre

Casework

Since the start of the new academic year, our Advice Centre dealt with a total of 727 cases. Of those cases, 332 related to accommodation issues which is perhaps unsurprising given the ongoing issues in Glasgow with a lack of available accommodation. We assisted 16 students who were facing homelessness and arranged emergency accommodation for them whilst they searched for longer-term secure accommodation. We are continuing to lobby the University to take steps to prevent the same accommodation issues arising again in the 2023/24 academic year.

In other areas we assisted an international student who was struggling to obtain a refund of rent they had paid up front to their private halls provider. The student had moved into their room in September 2020, and paid the full rent through to July 2021 up front. However, using the provisions of the Coronavirus Act Scotland No.2 they had terminated their agreement early and left the property in December 2020. 

They then asked the company for a refund, but their request was unfortunately ignored and the student was still waiting for the refund almost 2 years later. They contacted us in July for advice so we contacted the company on the student’s behalf to request the refund, and explained their rights to this under the legislation. After a few months of chasing the company they finally relented and refunded the student the £4,700 they were owed.

Policy & Campaigning

In August we submitted a response to Glasgow City Council’s consultation on the licencing and regulation of short-term lets in the city. In our response we encouraged Glasgow City Council to require a licence for short-term lets in almost all situations and argued that occupants of adjoined properties should always be fully consulted before a licence is granted. This consultation was of particular interest to us as we have assisted a number of students in the last year who have experienced extremely difficult circumstances when renting short term lets from sites such as Airbnb. As these types of agreements are currently unlicenced and unregulated, tenants have virtually no tenancy rights which can lead to huge issues for them if a dispute arises with the landlord of the property.

In addition to the above, we have been working alongside the University since the start of August to try and find a solution to the issues with the availability of both University accommodation and private rental accommodation in Glasgow. As part of this process, we lobbied the University to provide emergency housing support for students who find themselves homeless and to date they have been providing rooms in hotels for the affected students on a short-term basis while we assist them with sourcing longer-term accommodation.

 

Clubs & Admin

The SRC App

At the beginning of September, we were excited to launch the new ‘Glasgow Uni SRC’ App! Our new app is primarily designed to make it easier for students to engage with the key services the SRC offers, but particularly with our affiliated clubs and societies and the various events and activities they host. Students can browse the full list of over 300 clubs, purchase memberships directly in the app, then stay up to date with their own personalised events and news feed from their clubs. Tickets for events may also be purchased in the app, as well as the ability to log volunteering hours and work towards rewards and recognition. A full list of the app features can be found on our website and the app is available for free download on both Android and Apple app stores.

Stalls on Campus

One of the many perks of affiliating your club or society with the SRC is the ability to book out our stalls on campus, including outside of the Fraser Building or the Wolfson Medical School. A popular method of club fundraising is running bake sales on campus and these stalls are the perfect locations to get the word out about your club whilst selling sweet treats. Find out more about booking stalls on campus on our Clubs Handbook web pages.

 

 

SRC Volunteering 

We started the new academic session with a bang by hosting our SRC Volunteering and Social Justice Festival the other week. The event took place in the Advanced Research Centre (ARC) as part of the ARCadia launch festival for the new building. It was a great day in a brilliant new space, and we were pleased to see so many of you turn up to get involved with our various community partners. If you weren’t able to make it then don’t worry as we’re looking forward to hosting another fair event in semester 2, and you can register to volunteer with us at any time. Here’s a selection of our current opportunities:

Conversation Cafe Volunteers Wanted! 

We’re looking for some friendly, outgoing volunteers to help facilitate our Conversation Cafes. Our cafes are run by our student volunteers and provide a casual space for students to share a cuppa’ and chat. Whether students are new to the University and looking to meet new people or are hoping to brush up on their language skills, our cafes offer an open meeting space for them to talk casually with peers and friendly strangers.

The Cafes will be held in The Wee G, in the Gilchrist Postgraduate Club, every second Wednesday from 3pm – 4pm, beginning 5th October.

Glasgow Counts Together Coach

Glasgow Counts Together is a paired coaching programme, created to help increase enthusiasm for maths. As a coach, you will be paired with a ‘buddy’; a pupil within one of Glasgow’s primary schools. You will have the opportunity to make maths a positive, enjoyable, and beneficial experience for your buddy. The main aims of the programme are:

  • To increase pupil engagement, enjoyment and confidence in numeracy
  • To provide an opportunity for pupils to explore different strategies in mental maths
  • To inspire the next generation in changing attitudes towards numeracy and maths.

Sessions are 30 minutes long, during school hours, and should take place a minimum of twice a week.  

Friends of Victoria Park 

Victoria Park is one of the largest and finest parks in Glasgow. Friends of Victoria Park want to make sure it’s well cared for and improved at a time when the budget for parks is under severe pressure. The volunteering Friends of Victoria Park organise involves looking after the rose beds, planting wild flowers, improving habitats for the wild fowl and other special projects. Therefore, the role will involve helping with some minor gardening, litter picking and park beautification! Occasionally joining in on the special projects, such as hanging new bird boxes or even decorating the Christmas tree. Generally, they have a volunteers morning on the first Saturday of each month, where people usually spend 1 – 2 hrs helping. Specific projects may be at different times, and last different lengths of time. 

Smart Works Scotland 

Smart Works provide free interview clothing and coaching to unemployed women on their journey towards employment. They set out to give their clients not just the practical tools, but the self-belief and confidence to succeed. Last year, 72% of the women Smart Works supported went on to get the job. Smart Works’ styling volunteers work with clients to help them find an interview outfit which makes them feel confident, spending an hour in their dressing room to find her a full outfit which is free and hers to keep. As well as managing their wardrobe of clothes and sorting incoming donations from public and retailers.

If you’re interested in any of the above volunteering opportunities, make sure to visit our website where you can register as a volunteer and be put in touch with our providers.

 

Coming Up

Black History Month

In October in the UK we recognise and celebrate Black History Month. The month is an opportunity to heighten public awareness of the massive impact Black people and Black voices have had on the history of our country. Throughout October, the SRC will be working with clubs, societies and the University to bring you a number of exciting events and activities. The current event list can be found on our website - more events will be added as the month goes on so keep checking the site throughout October for updates.

 

The Gilchrist Postgraduate Club

We have some exciting Gilchrist news: the Postgraduate Club will now be open later into the evenings – opening at 8am and closing at 11pm, Monday through Friday. These extended opening hours should allow for even greater opportunities for postgraduates to meet, study, socialise, or take a break during the week.

On top of these extended hours, we also have a brilliant line up of events throughout semester one, including the long awaited return of our regular pub quiz, fortnightly knitting for fun sessions, monthly Drag 101 shows, monthly Diversity Quota comedy nights, plus cultural events such as Chinese Culture Week this week, live music and more to come! Make sure to stay up to date with the latest Gilchrist events by checking our website or following us on social media @TheGilchristPG (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

For more information on the listed events please contact gilchristpgclub@src.gla.ac.uk. If you are a postgraduate student or SRC affiliated club that would like to put on your own events in the Gilchrist Postgraduate Club please contact events@src.gla.ac.uk 

 

Contacts:

 

Thank you for reading. The next update will be at the beginning of November.

Sent by SRC Communications