Last Thursday, the 16th May, in the Council Chambers of the University Guild, the last Guild Officer’s Question Time of the year was held to discuss the developments of the last several weeks. Guild President Reece Roberts opened the proceedings, welcoming guests and the six other Guild Officers who were to sit on the panel that evening. Attendance from the student body was limited, with perhaps the audience equalling no more than ten at most, including members of the student press; a hardly surprising number however given the context of exam season. It was clear from the outset that this session was to be more of a general update from the Guild Officers on their own individual achievements and affairs rather than a heated Q&A session with their constituents.
That being said, the Officers offered a wide range of positive announcements in relation to their individual roles, achieved either over the last month or throughout their time in office this academic year.
Welfare and Community Officer, Izzy Bygrave, announced an exciting new partnership with ‘Marks out of Tenancy’, a website which will allow students to rate their houses and landlords for the benefit of others looking for student housing. This website will be of particular use to First Years, who will be entering university life for the first time and who are likely inexperienced when it comes to landlords and tenancy agreements. Although Freshers are offered substantial support directly by the University, many find themselves under a great deal of pressure in the first term to organise their accommodation for the following year. ‘Marks out of Tenancy’, in association with the University Guild of Students, aims to help alleviate those pressures and reduce the stress that comes with the search for student housing. One major aim Izzy had this year was to establish CCTV in the student sectors of Selly Oak. She, unfortunately, had to explain however that it is unlikely we will see improved CCTV in Selly for the foreseeable future, as discussions with councillors have proved more difficult than previously expected. Talks, however, will continue in the future in an effort to make this a reality, and Izzy’s petition to the University regarding student safety was deemed successful, with over 7000 signatures on the final count.
Simon Price, Sports Officer, made sure to highlight the progress he has personally made in regard to mental welfare within sports teams and societies here at the University. This was a vital part of Simon’s manifesto when he was elected into office and he was proud to announce that free mental health first aid training will from now on be subsidised to one committee member of each sports club in an effort to make support more accessible and easier for those who need it. Simon was also pleased to mention the success of the recent colour-run which took place on the Vale last week. Hundreds of students took part in the run and the weather pulled through to make the event even more colourful and vibrant than it already was. It was also mentioned that an exciting new range of accessories, including ties, sliders and hats are to be released in the following weeks for sports teams here at UoB. Information and the availability of these new accessories can be found on the Guild Website.
Among other announcements, including incoming improvements to the UoB Campus app by Education Officer, Adam Goldstone and mention of the continuation of trials for the ‘Scrutiny Panel’ next year, it was also made known by Reece that the future of the funding for the Selly Express will be announced sometime next month. This has proved a major issue for students living in Selly given the high levels of crime and violence which is seen on an almost daily basis and the student body has been waiting with growing anticipation to see what will become of the shuttle bus in the following academic year. As Reece went on to make his final remarks, he went on to make a pivotal statement concerning the occupation of Guild President. Reece explained to the audience that the role of Guild President has become obsolete, later stating on his Twitter feed that, “The President is no different from Sports or International officer. I do not lead my union, my officer team and I do. Our collective voice and decision making is what makes our union great on lobbying for students! All officers are presidents, not just I.” If the role of Guild President is indeed revoked in following years, it would leave questions over who would take up the roles currently held by the President and if they would be equally shared amongst the rest of the Officer team.
Although short, this meeting proved to be decisive, with important contributions coming from all Officers who were present. We hope that next year’s team can build upon the work that has been carried out this year and wish all outgoing Officers the best of luck with their future ventures. Further information about the aims and accomplishments of this year’s Guild Officer’s Team can be found online through the guild website.