Farewell Blog – GUSRC Executive 2019-20

Our 2019-20 Executive Officers reflect on their year in office: telling us their favourite memories, some of their proudest achievements, and any advice they have for their successors.

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Scott Kirby – President 2019-20

I can’t believe it is already time to be handing the reigns of the SRC over to my successor, a year in this job goes really quickly.

It has to be said, but this has been probably one of the toughest years to be a student at the University of Glasgow for quite some time – what a year it has been for everyone. I can’t think of a year in modern history which has thrown so many challenges in such a short space of time to students, perhaps not since WW2. Semester 2 in particular, has almost been like stepping into an alternate reality – an emotional rollercoaster from start to stop.

I won’t reflect too much on my personal experience, but I will say this has been an incredibly challenging year for the team – what we’ve had to deal with is totally outwith the job description of being a sabbatical officer, and is certainly not something you ever think you will have to deal with – even at 50 years old, never mind at an average age of 22 years old. I certainly didn’t think I would be walking out of this job with ‘Crisis Management’ as something I can put on my CV, but alas, here we are.

I’m really proud of what we have been able to achieve this year, despite the circumstances – the team have been utterly incredible at keeping things steady and stepping up to the plate when called upon, especially after lockdown began in March. From lobbying the University on its environmental agenda and getting Ecosia approved for all shared UofG computers, to putting a whole suite of wellbeing & de-stress events and activities online at the drop of a hat.

We tried holding the University accountable at every point after lockdown started, resulting in a No Detriment Policy, a COVID-19 hardship fund, a commitment to hold graduations and an Alumni Benefits package to help graduates into the new year. Outwardly we lobbied Scottish Government on Purpose Built Student Accommodation and summer financial support for students in a jobless market, and internally helped to finish the implementation of a Sanitary Product scheme on campus.

More recently, we have tried to hold the University accountable on what it’s doing for BAME students and academics, and have been campaigning for more support for survivors of rape and sexual assault. Despite the challenges that the team have gone through, I am truly grateful for what we have been able to do for students at a time where we are needed, as the SRC, to show up and be supportive for those that we represent.

Personally this year has been the most challenging year of my life, not just because of the job but also circumstances outside of work – however it has also been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences I’ve had so far. If there was one piece of advice I could give anyone reading this, it’s to engage with the SRC, be a part of it, run for Council, be a Freshers’ Helper – it’s a community and a family, and getting involved has genuinely been one of the best things I’ve done at University. Give the SRC a go, and you’ll never look back!

I know going forward we have an amazing team coming into post who will be great at making sure the next academic year, in the unusual form that it takes, still proves to be a fulfilling and empowering experience for students at the University. With Liam’s, my successor, I know the SRC is in very, very capable hands.

Remember, if you ever find yourself with an issue or problem, the SRC are always here for you – here to represent you, to defend you, to support you and to hold the University accountable for you through your time here. So remember the SRC is here to be engaged with and used as a vehicle to make your student experience better – and that is a value I hope we have held true to this year given the circumstances.

It’s been an absolute privilege being President this year – thank you for everything and best of luck with your futures.

Liam Brady – Vice President Education 2019-20 (Incoming President 2020-21)

As we come to the end of our time in our roles, it’s only natural to reminisce on the last year. The key thing that sticks out to me is the people. Being a sabbatical officer has given me so many opportunities; I’ve ran my own Class Rep Conference, a virtual award ceremony, and represented the University at a Global Student Leadership Forum in China. All these things have been amazing experiences but it’s the friends that I have made along the way that are the highlight.

Being in such a close-knit team has made this year a lot easier and I can’t thank Kirsty, Tom and Scott enough for that. They have never failed to make me laugh when I needed it most and were always there to listen whether it was an emotional rant or simply catching up on a bit of gossip. It’s hard to imagine working without them but I am so excited to get to know Amy, Ella and Gregory even better and see what they bring to their roles.

This year has most definitely had its ups and downs but, ever the optimist, this blog is to focus on the positives. As a team we have worked tirelessly to represent the best interests of students and here are some examples of our achievements:

  • Back in September we launched a Student Representation Toolkit to enhance the representation system here at the University
  • We have been consistently involved in conversations around the University’s response to Covid-19 including the development and implementation of the No Detriment policy
  • We took the Lecture Recording policy to Senate to move from an opt-in to an opt-out service which will help increase the number of lectures being recorded

I have enjoyed my year as Vice President Education so much and I can’t wait to be your next President. I’ve learnt a lot along the way so before I sign off, my advice for Gregory next year is don’t be afraid to use your voice! Oh, and take your annual leave, that helps too.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on the other side!

 

Kirsty Summers – Vice President Student Activities 2019-20

I can’t quite fathom that it is already June and our last day is here. The calmness of last summer is a distant memory in comparison to the responsibilities of this role that have been tested throughout this year. It has been a crazy, surreal and, at times, stressful year but I’ll do my best to pick out some of my personal highlights.

From day one, my focus was on Freshers’ Week and how to create the most inclusive and exciting line-up possible. My predecessors had set the bar so high that it was daunting to consider this task. To add my own touch, I wanted to focus on more early evening events that catered to home-students and non-drinkers. Planning a headphone disco in the cloisters will forever be one of my favourite achievements. Alongside this I wanted to address some of the welfare-based challenges that students face starting at University. Working with Tom, the wonderful VP Student Support, I devised the Freshers’ Fair Quiet Hour that helped reduce levels of anxieties and stress for those who needed it most. Although there will always be room for improvement, creating an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere to kickstart the year really was an absolute highlight in this role.

Another personal highlight was our De-stress at a Distance campaign, that saw our usual Exam Destress offering change to an online format. COVID-19 undoubtedly changed what we had expected the second half of our year to look like. Reacting to a global pandemic brought its challenges, particularly for a technophobe like me, but I am so proud of what we achieved alongside our fantastic comms team to help motivate, connect and inspire students throughout this difficult period. It also highlighted the resilience of the wonderful clubs and societies I’ve been lucky enough to work with. The amount of extra effort, dedication and passion that was put into the running and participation of all the extra-curricular activities is admirable and something everyone involved should be incredibly proud of.

There are so many aspects of this job I want to cover, but at the risk of boring everyone I’ll skip to the most enjoyable part. Teamwork. Getting to work with the University, the SRC staff, our council members, and the wider student population has been the most rewarding part of this job. Coming together to improve the student experience has been an absolute privilege and being trusted to represent the diverse and wonderful student cohort has been nothing short of amazing. I also couldn’t write this and not mention my fellow sabbatical officers, Scott, Liam and Tom. For so much of this year we have worked together and after putting up with me they all deserve a medal and a probably a holiday too.

Finally, to pass on the baton to someone as enthusiastic as Amy is a joy. Amy, you are surrounded by the best community of staff and students, so enjoy this year and embrace the challenges. You’ve got this.

 

GUSRC Exec 2019-20 Daft Friday

Tom McFerran – Vice President Student Support 2019-20

Well it’s been a year since I began, and it feels simultaneously like a week and a decade.  We’ve had an eventful year to say the least; the good, the bad and the ugly.

To say this job got a bit stressful at times is an understatement, but it has also been the best way imaginable I could think of starting my first graduate job.  I have had some amazing experiences organising events, working on committees with the university, helping write policies and guidelines, and other amazing things.  To top it off we ended up having a pandemic in the middle of it all, but we stood strong as a team and as a university community and are starting to see the light at the end of what feels like a very long tunnel.

One of the things I have been incredibly grateful for is the people who have supported all these initiatives.  My Welfare and Equality Reps have helped with panel discussions, drop-in surgeries, careers events, film screenings and countless other things, especially around LGBT history month where we had a massive intersectional approach with all the reps, and it was a phenomenal experience.  This job wouldn’t be possible without their support.

Aside from the council reps, the SRC has a plethora of other people I need to thank.  The Admin Team for sorting everything from calendar meetings to pizza orders, the Advice Centre for having such a passionate drive and a wealth of knowledge that is unbelievably helpful, the management team for guiding us from day 1 and supporting our initiatives, those involved in our Marketing and Comms throughout the year and ensuring we made a presence on campus and engaged with the community.  You are all fantastic and I feel lucky to have had such a great team across the organisation.

Lastly, thank you to the university staff who have supported, mentored and spent the time to listen and help us in our work, and push for change for the university to progress and change to be inclusive and accessible to all students.  The hours and time put in during this past few months in particular do not go unnoticed.

It’s time to handover to my successor, so to you Ella I say good luck, work hard, enjoy the craic when you can, and you’re going to smash it!

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