Sabb Blog 2018/19 #1 – SRC President
Throughout the academic year, your GUSRC sabbatical officers will provide an update on the work they’ve been carrying out to make your experience at the University of Glasgow even better. Our first blog for 2018/19 comes from your SRC President Lauren McDougall
Hello everyone, I’m Lauren, President of the Students’ Representative Council, welcome to the first blog of 2018/19! I hope you’re all having a good start to the semester, it’s certainly been a busy one for us here at the SRC! Throughout the academic year, myself and the rest of the SRC executive (aka the three Vice Presidents) will be updating you on what we’ve been working to improve your experience here at the University of Glasgow.
We have recently launched our new SRC Student Networks on Facebook. We have five networks in total:
- Home Students’ Network
- Postgraduate Students’ Network
- Disabled Students’ Network
- Student Carers’ Network
- Student Parents’ Network.
As a carer and a disabled student I often felt quite isolated, it can be hard for friends to relate if they’ve never been in your situation. When I first discovered the SRC carer’s lunches it felt wonderful to be able to meet other students facing similar difficulties and that support has been invaluable to me. The networks are for students to use in the best way that works for you, so if you identify with any of these 5 groups please join the Facebook groups, make a welcome post, connect with your peers and spread the word. All of the networks will also have events throughout the year, so make sure you look out for more information and come along and meet up face-to-face!
James McCune Smith Learning Hub
You can’t have failed to notice the huge cranes on University Avenue and over the last few months the concrete lift shafts of the new learning and teaching hub have shot up at an incredible rate! This new building will provide teaching and study space for over 2500 students and will have state of the art facilities and not only for learning. The Hub will also be available for clubs and societies to hire in the evenings and weekends for events, giving us a much needed boost of space available on campus for students to use. Once the building is open it’ll really be the centre of activity for many students, hence why it’s been known as “the hub” since its inception.
Over the last few years the SRC have been campaigning to diversify the names of buildings on campus, and we’ve been pushing to rename buildings to honour the range of diverse and influential members of #TeamUofG past and present. A huge part of this has been our desire to see a significant building in the campus redevelopment named after James McCune Smith, the first African-American person anywhere in the world to gain a medical degree, who graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1837. This is a really significant part of UofG’s history and we are so excited that James McCune Smith’s legacy will be honoured in the naming of what will become the most prominent and well-used building in the new campus.
Online Reporting Tool
Throughout my time as Vice President (Student Support) last year I used my position on the University’s Gender-Based Violence Strategy Group to lobby for the introduction of an online tool to report sexual harassment, and any other type of bullying and harassment. I also made it clear that the SRC wanted this tool to have the option of reporting anonymously. Anonymous reports can be used by the University to understand the scale of harassment and bullying on campus, and this will allow targeted training and awareness raising in any areas of the University that appear to have particular issues, e.g., sexism or racism. Over the summer I worked with the University to develop this tool and after over a year of fighting the case for it, Report and Support is now live!
Report and Support has an anonymous option though reports submitted anonymously cannot be formally investigated. We’re encouraging students to report with their details to allow the University to fully investigate all matters and to enable you to access any support you might need. The tool is going to be monitored over its first 6 months, with scope to develop it further so if you’ve used it and have any feedback about it please get in touch with me. Any comments you share will be confidential – your identity won’t be shared and your comments will be used to help improve the system.
In my manifesto I was clear that I wanted to be an SRC President who prioritised campaigning on issues affecting students. Over the summer I reached out to STUC (Scottish Trades Union Congress) to find out how we could get involved in their campaigns around more rights for people working in the hospitality industry, as many students work part-time in bars and restaurants to support themselves through their studies. We’re working with STUC on the Get Back campaign, which looks at how late-night hospitality venues are ensuring that their workers get home safe. We’re also in touch with them around some workshops they’re going to be running on educating workers on their rights and how to challenge unfair pay and conditions. Hospitality and retail workers are under-represented in trade unions, and as a result many employers exploit their staff. We will be promoting these workshops to students so watch this space over the coming weeks for more information.
The SRC has also discovered that the recent update to legislation around tenancy rights exempts Purpose Built Student Accommodation (private halls of residence) providers from adhering to rules around charging admin fees, which have been illegal for private landlords for many years. These changes mean that students staying in these private student residences could be charged unfair fees and would have no way of legally challenging this.. With so many students at the University of Glasgow staying in these private halls across Glasgow, we wrote to the Scottish Government in July to raise our concerns and we are continuing to fight for changes to this legislation to ensure that students are not unfairly treated. If you’ve had any issues at all with your housing, either in relation to these PBSA changes or even with a private landlord, please contact our Advice Centre (www.glasgowstudent.net/advice )who can advise you of your rights and support you in challenging any unfair or illegal treatment.
I think you’ve probably heard quite enough from me now, but if you want to find out any more about what the SRC are doing for you, you can reach me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @gusrc_president on Twitter as well as @gusrc. Also check out our brand new Ask the SRC webpage for more information about letting us know what matters to you.