Amy is your President at Roehampton Students’ Union and this is her updates on the work she has done for Roehampton Students so far this year and what she plans for the future.
As we quickly approach the festive break, the officer team have been taking some time to reflect on the work we’ve been doing to make student life better for students at Roehampton across term one.
No, not the romantic type - the community building variety. I’m passionate about increasing student engagement with societies, sports and events on campus as I believe these can bring a sense of belonging and community to students.
But it’s important to reflect on the fact that engagement is not limited to those specific things. It also covers how involved and aware students are with what we (the Students’ Union) are doing.
Our Democracy Review in April 2023, told us that students did not really know about the work we do and how we are helping students to make change and better their experience at Roehampton University, e.g. by running the academic representation programme.
So from the start of next term in January, I will be launching ‘RSU On Tour.’ This will be Sharon, Laura and I, as well as RSU staff members, going around campus asking you questions.
These questions could include:
- feedback on your course and the learning experience you are receiving
- the general election and what you want to see from political parties in their manifestos.
Being ‘on tour’ also means sharing campaigns, events and general information that benefits you - the goal being that we come to you.
I’m excited to start RSU On Tour and meet so many of you on campus!
Cost of Living
The second objective I set back in July was to work together with the University to improve the community fridge scheme to help decrease the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on students.
However, through conversations with the University and other sabbatical officers from all over the UK, it became clear that this needed to have a wider focus on what support is on offer to all students at Roehampton to help in alleviating the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.
One of the big projects (which will hopefully take off in the New Year) is Student Pantry. Access to food and hygiene products is such a vital aspect of being successful in your studies, as the lack of these can quickly lead to a decline in your physical and mental health. I have already spoken with York University Students’ Union about their student pantry, and I will be adapting their blueprint to suit the needs of students here at the University of Roehampton.
But why is this needed? Through researching community pantries and their benefits and looking at the Student Money Survey 2023 conducted by Save The Student, I was shocked and saddened about the reality of being a student right now!
I then went on to do some ‘University of Roehampton specific’ maths about maintenance loans and living costs. Here is what I found:
- If an undergraduate student receives the lowest amount of maintenance loan for living away from home in London, they will receive £6,308.
- If this student lives in the cheapest on campus accommodation here at Roehampton, which is Bede House at £139 per week for 39 weeks (an academic year), their accommodation costs come to a total of £5,421.
- This leaves them with £887 for the academic year, which equates to £22.74 per week. This already sounds like a punitive amount to live off. It may not shock you to find out that this £22.74 a week does not even cover the average weekly food shop for a student in London, which on average costs £31 per week.
After finding out this shocking information, I raised the subject at a recent London Student Assembly which was held at LSE where we spoke on many topics which affect the students of London. The cost of being a student in London and the lack of a maintenance loan which reflects those costs, is going to be one of the topics we bring to the mayoral candidates of London in the run up to their elections in May 2024.
I have also taken this information to the Vice-Chancellor, Jean-Noël Ezingeard where I made it clear that students need more support now than ever before. I have also been curating information to create a page on the RSU website dedicated to cost-of-living support. This includes average costs per month for being a student in London, what support the University already has in place, and budgeting tips as well as more support.
Get out the Vote
The third objective I’m working towards is promoting and encouraging students to register to vote in both the upcoming local and national elections. The General Election is rapidly approaching and is predicted to take place in 2024.
There are also the London Mayoral Elections in May 2024. Now is the time to get registered to vote and use your voice to create change for students in London as well as up and down the UK. I’ve been to numerous events run by the National Union of Students (NUS) to help create the Student Manifesto which will be released in January. The student manifesto will represent what students want to see political parties pledge to support in their manifestos when running in the General Election.
I have been working to produce fun and engaging ways to get students registered to vote and in the New Year there will be a big voter registration drive. In partnership with voter registration, I have also been working to collate voting education resources as it is particularly important that students understand how pivotal their vote could be in creating change for the better of students, not only now, but in the many years to come. Also, in January, in partnership with Citizens UK, the RSU will be conducting a listening campaign to get students together to speak about what they want to see change with regards to the outcome of the general election. More details about how you can get involved in the listening campaign will be released when you return to campus in January.
If you want to get involved with any of these campaigns or have ideas for change on campus you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via social media on Instagram