Student Forum: YES or NO?

Situated in the coffee side of JC’s, a small number of the student body gathered for student forum on the 10th of November.

Turned sofas and chairs facing a large screen and a microphone, sat a dozen or so students ready to participate in the forum.

Student Forum’s exist so that students are given the opportunity to voice their problems or opinions that affects them at University. Student forums are a chance for students to impact the Student Unions actions, to priorities the issues of which the Students’ Union campaign on. Anyone can bring an issue to the forum, should you feel you have something that is affecting the student community, you can let the Union President Lewys know and it could feature in the next forum.

Issues discussed at the latest forum was the Debate on Saturday Exams. The Education Officer, Robiu Salisu and the University have collaborated to decide upon four possible options:

  • No Saturday exams but longer period into revision week
  • No Saturday exams but longer period into employability week
  • No Saturday exams but more frequent (eg. 2 per day)
  • Keep Saturday exams

Along with the Saturday Exams, The Part-Time Mature Students Officer Rhydian Morris brought forward a motion to create a new Part-Time Officer role with the title of “Mental Health Awareness Officer”.

First on the agenda, Saturday Exams took precedence of the evening. The campaign has been a result of hard-work from the Student Union, especially the Full-Time Education Officer Robiu Salisu, but also the Student Reps have been working hard to raise awareness of the campaign.

With over 1000 votes online, the Saturday Exams campaign began with a bang. The large engagement from the study body enabled the campaign to gain a wide variety of voices. With the online results, students were able to share their thoughts about how it would effect them alongside their votes. Students came forward with issues such as work commitments on weekends, for those students with children they would have to find child-minders to look after their children. Jewish students commented on how Saturdays are ‘Sabbath’ a day for rest.

It was also brought up at the forum that the exam office warned a longer exam period would have consequences upon the marking time period. If the exam period went into employability week, it would take time away from the markers and mean that marks would be delayed.

The debate of Saturday Exam’s was brought to the forum; the audience was asked to share their thoughts upon the matter. Some repeated the already raised concerns from the online survey such as work commitments. A student raised the issue that, ending the term on the 11th of December leaves students with a longer revision period than Easter, meaning starting earlier in the revision week wouldn’t have a massive impact. However, it was also debated that this may mean less time at home for students, which for those who live far away from home can be an issue. Surprisingly the forum’s vote overall favoured the ‘no Saturday’s’ option, a complete opposite to the online survey results. The vote was noted down and would be taken into account when the findings are taken to the committee. However, it will also be noted that the turnout to the forum was very low, and must be taken into consideration that its not reflective of the entire student body. It would be taken to different committees within the university to be decided what would be the best possible outcome of the debate. Such committees include the education committee, the learning and teaching committee and the exams office. No changes will be made the exam season until January 2017.

The next issue on the agenda of the student forum was a motion brought forward by the Part-Time Mature Students Officer Rhydian Morris and seconded by the Full-Time Welfare Officer Lloyd Harris. Rhydian proposed the motion to create a new Part-Time Officer role with the title of “Mental Health Awareness Officer”. Along with this role the motion stated to entitle the role to £500 of ring-fenced funding for campaigns, which is given to all liberation campaign officers for the year. A fund that is also open to students to fund any campaigns within the individual liberation campaign.

The Part-Time Mature Students Officer Rhydian gave a statement about the motion tonight at the forum: ‘I feel strongly about the creation of this new position as mental health is one of the key issues facing students today. Most mental health conditions manifest themselves for the first time in the age group most students are apart of. Students with some form of mental health issue correspond to anywhere between 10-20% of all students. There should be a specific drive by the union to combat this issue, and the creation of a part-time officer position with this remit is a positive first step.’

The forum was asked to anonymously vote whether to vote for or against the motion, they were also given the option to abstain from the vote. The results from the forum concluded that it passed. The motion will now be sent to a referendum online, so students soon will be able to read the motion themselves and cast their own vote for the motion!

Whilst the turnout was disappointing at the forum, it was still important to see some of the student body engaging with the Unions work. The Saturday Exam survey was a large success of engagement; however the Students Union needs more. The Full-Time and Part-Time Officers are elected and there to help you.

The next student forum will be will be the first ever to be on the Bay Campus and be focusing upon the issues of faced whilst living or studying at the Bay Campus. For those still unhappy with their time on Bay Campus, or feel there is some issues that have been overlooked, this is the perfect time to feedback those thoughts. Without students input, the Students Union is unable to campaign successfully on your behalf.  The Bay Campus Forum will be held on the 24th of November at 13:00 at the Bay Campus Union Building.