Uniontimes

MARCH 2003 | 02 The newsletter of the University of Surrey Students’ Union

USSU back from the brink
The Students’ Union proves it’s never too late to wake up and smell the coffee
Over the last twelve months - and most predominately during this academic year - USSU has undergone an unprecedented reawakening that has seen new non-commercial services leave similar courses in existing unions standing. If you had asked the students last year about the Union, their immediate response would have involved any one of the usual suspects: beer, sports, societies and Union entertainments. However, when the question was asked wondering what would be left if the Union’s commercial stability declined, it was realised the organisation would be left with a few sports clubs, some societies and amenities and the sabbatical team. With a failing constitution and a building that failed to be welcoming at the best of times, USSU realised something needed to be done, and pretty sharp too. Under the guidance of selected staff and the sabbatical team, a research project was established to determine what services the Union should be providing and how to go about it. Following a national tour and lengthy subvention review, a funding increase of £105k was agreed and supported by the University, as well as additional funding for some special, one-of costs. 10 months later, a new activity centre, a new student services staff team and a number of high-profile projects has seen USSU come back from the brink and turn into the model on which other Students’ Unions now base their development targets. staff that work alongside the Union’s elected officers. Andy Blair (Marketing & Student Services Manager), Scott Farmer (Student Services Coordinator), Alli Cummings (Outreach & Development Coordinator) and Kris Temple (Sports Administrator) are that team and outline throughout the rest of this edition of Uniontimes some of the brand new projects that have been undertaken from afresh this academic year. ID | : Individual Develpoment Individual Development (ID) is a project coordinated and fronted by the Students’ Union, pulling together all of the non-academic departments that provide students with additional training to their degree-related work. The core aim of this project is to add to a student’s employability to a potential employer by the time they leave. As a three level programme (bronze, silver and gold) in which only attendance is required, it works on the belief that once people have attended and actively participated in a training session or seminar within the scheme, that they have been exposed to ‘just in time’ training at the point it is most needed to supplement skills that are inbuilt into their overall degree programme. The DAVE Project The Development, Accreditation, Volunteering & Employability Project is the major contributor to the ID | : programme and is the local National Student Learning Programme (NSLP) project for Surrey. Over 30 courses and modules run under the DAVE brand, ranging from individual sessions on key employability skills to teambuilding for Union groups and societies. The students participation target for this pilot year of ID | : and DAVE was 300 individual students to have started participating on the scheme. This figure was reached by the end of just the second month in operation. Scott Farmer comments: “The students have really identified with the project and the uptake of the courses has shown it to be an overwhelming success. The key for us now us to keep up the momentum and continue to build on this success.” The recruitment of a set of student trainers has just been completed and so the staff and sabbaticals at Surrey will soon be in a position to hand over the reins of the project to the new student training team. Further details of modules can be found weekly in barefacts.

The Vice-Chancellor admiring the new activities centre and display boards of the Students’ Union

The new Student Services Department is made up of four www.ussu.co.uk/uniontimes

march 2003
The Volunteering Project The ‘V’ Programme has been set up to show the students and staff of UniS the benefits of volunteering and also to offer them a simple way to get involved. Part-funded by the University’s HEACF programme, the V-Project was first showcased at Freshers’ Fayre at the start of the academic year and so far has been incredibly successful both in terms of those it has recruited and the opportunities it has created and forged within the local community. There are several reasons for the success of the programme, mainly based around revamping the image of volunteering and the generally unpopular preconceptions many students held prior to “V’. All of the advertising and marketing tries to be bright, inspiring and catchy with an undertone of ridding volunteering of the old stereotypes such as “do-gooding” and unpaid work or time in charity shops. Alli Cummings continues: “We found the best way to challenge the stereotypes was to get rid of the dreaded ‘volunteering’ word and replace it wherever possible with the solitary V and ReVitalise Your Life branding. Once this had been achieved, the next step was to ensure the opportunities available through V were just as good.” able volunteer project with a new image, lots of opportunities and a sign-up process that is as simple as possible to make sure we don’t lose perspective of volunteers in a mound of time-consuming paperwork. It is about making the most of your time.” “When you have a brand new activity centre and everyone seems to love the new work you are undertaking, it is easy to lose sight of our core objectives. To this end, we are looking to further develop and support the work of the current projects with the sports, societal and cultural aspects of the Union. A revamped RAG week has, up to this point, raised well over £2000, a total quadruple that of recent years. We are addressing the recent declining levels of participation in all areas of activity and pushing forward a new social strategy for the University by liaising with all departments across the University.”

Representation Representation has been the hardest nut to crack during the whole process. Up to this point, a new constitution has been written and passed, but staff support for autonomous representation of individuals has historically been non-existent. Taking into account the increasing number of students participating and interacting with USSU, the Union’s first Education & Welfare Advisor post has been created and will become operational during the Easter break. Andy Blair comments: “The role of the Education & Welfare sabbatical is an extremely time consuming and pressured role, one that we collectively feel needs to have another member of staff in place, with the necessary skills and experience, to support and advise the Vice President on matters of student welfare and academic appeals. It increases our ability to provide an improving service rather than stagnating due to the limited time available.”

Students in their Victorian attire, raising money for RAG during the ‘raid’ on the High Street

Upon signing-up to the scheme, volunteers are ‘pigeonholed’ into three categories: Internal Volunteers work within the Students’ Union on projects such as the student newspaper and the radio station; Community Volunteer who go and volunteer with one of the fifty registered organisations doing anything from working with abused children to helping with chores at an animal sanctuary. For those people who cannot commit regularly to a routine volunteering opportunity, the V-Project offers The A Team - the third and final group of volunteers who run one-off events such as Christmas shopping trips for the disabled, renovating run-down schools and organising food and clothing collections for the homeless. “V in a nutshell?”summises Alli Cummings, “is a sustain-

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Student Media It would seem that the success of the new projects USSU has been busy with has rubbed off on some of its more established arms, because various aspects of the student media have this year won awards recognised at a national level. GU2 1350am - the radio station of the University of Surrey - was recently named Best Student Radio Station at the Student Radio Awards and was praised for its rapid development and progress over the last two years. Given that the radio station has only been active in its current form for the last two years, the magnitude of this achievement should not be underestimated. Similarly, barefacts was awarded the Best Campaign award at The Independent/NUS student media awards, celebrating its coverage of the Uni$kint rent protest last year. Both aspects of the media have continued their good work this year, alongside the project highlighted above, and it is hoped that the success of this last year, in all aspects of the Students’ Union, will be repeated year after year as USSU continue to build on its now strong foundation.

The Federal University of Surrey Entrepreneurs scheme, or FUSE, was recently launched and is the first joint amenity for students run under the federal banner. Led by USSU and UniSdirect at Surrey, and Roehampton Students’ Union (RSU) and Roehampton Direct, it heralds a new avenue for students to access the best the federation has to offer in supporting students who have a genuine business idea and an entrepreneurial streak. Talking on the principle behind FUSE, Andy Blair comments: “The idea behind the amenity that is FUSE is for it to act as a conduit through which students can access training, information and advice from experienced professionals on all aspects of setting themselves up as entrepreneurs.” “Whether a student is interested in the specifics of becoming a sole trader, buying a company off the shelf, writing business plans or finding investment capital to get an idea off the ground, FUSE brings together students and staff across the federation during the course of the academic year to open doors into the world of the successful and ‘entrepreneurial.’” FUSE is open to anyone from any background on any academic course across the Federal University. Irrespective of what a student believes is involved in becoming an entrepreneur, their interest will be augmented by the avenues FUSE can provide with which to move their ideas from the mindspace to the workspace and reality. During the course of an academic year, FUSE aims to provide information about entrepreneurship through the student media and individual information packs that will become available on both campuses and through the developing website. Social events are also being organised during the course of the year for student entrepreneurs to meet with people from the local business community and also to attend seminars by individuals that have successfully become entrepreneurs themselves. Along with the social events, seminars and information resources that are available, FUSE will also be offering specifically written, on-off training sessions through the ID | : programme. The first FUSE taster session attracted nearly seventy students and will be followed by three more special sessions, to be run by Scott Farmer of the DAVE project and the University’s Professor of Entrepreneurship, Professor David Kirby (UniSdirect).

The national awards presented to GU2 and barefacts for their respective achievements

The last few months have been an exciting time for everyone involved with USSU and the next task of the respective teams is to consolidate, solidify and expand the projects as they move into their second years. Do the projects we have undertaken signify what we think is the main work of a students’ union? That could very well be the topic for another discussion entirely, but the basic message to convey is that USSU is establishing a greater presence for itself in terms of its members, its university and its community and that this will continue to develop as USSU finds new and innovative ways of serving its membership.

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“Lights. Camera. Action.” campaign
barefacts and the Students’ Union have together launched a campaign to address the seemingly endless safety concerns regarding the underpasses on the west side of campus. Entitled “Lights. Camera. Action.” the campaign is pushing to see something done about the provision for a safe transition for anyone - be they students, staff or Guildford citizens - between campus, the Tescos store and the surrounding residential areas via the underpasses located on these routes. The campaign follows the latest in a series of attacks in February and calls for reliable lighting and the installation of cameras as the minimum of action to be taken in order to promote safe passage in these areas. The campaign has received much attention from the local area. Sue Doughty - the MP for Guildford - has expressed her whole-hearted support, saying: “This issue is very important. Safety is absolutely paramount.” She later said that she would meet with the chief executive of Guildford Borough Council in order to discuss the issues and suggested many ways in which the campaign could move forward. One of Mrs Doughty’s suggestions was that of forming a partnership in order to fund any changes that are made to prevent further incidents. High-lighting the Safer Guildford Partnership, she suggested that the County Council, Borough Council and Universtiy could all “chipin.” The campaign coordinators are also looking to Tescos to provide support, especially in light of their recent 24 hour license. The campaign is also being supported by Surrey Police, who are now working closely with the “Lights. Camera. Action.” team to get the message out to all residents who could potentially benefit from its objectives. PC John Carver, the neighbourhood specialist officer for Park Barn & Westborough, will encourage the residents in his area to get in touch with barefacts to pledge their support to the campaign. Similarly, all members of staff are urged to contact barefacts with any incidents they have experienced or messages of support. A petition has been circulating around campus since the start of the campaign. The original target of 200 signatures was surpassed on the first day and the current total stands at around 580. Staff and students have been signing the petition, which will be presented to local councillors nearer to the Easter holidays after preliminary research has been completed by all.

The objectives of the “Lights. Camera. Action.” campaign are the following: > adequate and reliable lighting in all underpasses > installation of cameras in the Southway and Tescos underpasses > regular maintenance work on all lighting and camera equipment routes.

The campaign is also interested in the provision for the passage for students and staff to make their way to and from the Manor Park campus, as and when it becomes operational. We would like to see set in place firm guarantees that suitable measures will be taken to ensure anyone can walk between said campuses at any time of the day or night. The campaign is being co-ordinated by Vice President Education & Welfare, Toni Borneo, on behalf of the Students’ Union and Rich Watts (VP Communications & Marketing) on behalf of barefacts. If you would like to offer any messages of support or would like to know any more about “Lights. Camera. Action.” then please get in touch: Toni Borneo | [01483] [68]9228 | welfare@ussu.co.uk Rich Watts | [01483] [68]9275 | comms@ussu.co.uk You can also contact barefacts directly via barefacts@ussu.co.uk. For updates on the progress of the campaign, please see barefacts, which is out every Thursday and is available around campus (library, lecture theatres, Wates House, court receptions etc.) or see the bulletin board at www.ussu.co.uk.

Published by the University of Surrey Student’s Union Communications Office © 2002 bf publications

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