by the Bristol SU elected officer team.
Term 1 flew by didn't it! We thought it was time to take stock and remind ourselves and you what we've been up to. Here are some of the things we've done this term:
1. Welcome Week
We hosted a series of club nights, winding up with our headline night at Motion. We especially enjoyed the huge range of events in our building including an International Food Fair, TED talks and events for Postgrads, BME and Mature students. The highlight for us though had to be Welcome Fair on the Downs. Over 10,000 of you attended and our sports clubs and societies had the highest number of sign ups ever (6% up on last year!) which feels like a pretty good win - well done everyone!
2. Continued work to improve the experiences of Black & Minority Ethnic students
Black History Month was in October. Spearheaded by our BME officers and UBEM,we ran the biggest series Black History Month events we've ever had. We were particularly honoured to have Akala deliver a lecture on the history of black people in Britain in the Anson Rooms.
We are also working to get funding for an historical research project into the experiences of BME students. This will give the University an evidence base for the first time to help tackle the disadvantage BME students face at university.
3. Worked to protect Higher Education
The government is about to bring in a lot of changes that will see fees rise, and the poorest students pushed out of the best Universities. We've been working hard to protest these changes. We launched our TEF Off campaign against the Teaching Excellence Framework and published an open letter from students and academics asking for fees not to go up at Bristol. We took coaches up to London alongside friends from UWE and the University and Colleges Union (UCU) to a national demonstration on November 19. Sadly these changes are going ahead despite our efforts so we are now launching our campaign asking final year students to boycott the NSS: a survey that will be key to the University raising fees from next year.
4. Secured more space for postgrads
Postgraduate Education Officer Laura and others secured new spaces for Postgrad Students and protected space in the libraries and the Brambles.
5. Fought against gender violence
Led by our Women’s Officer Darcy, we marched to Reclaim the Night in collaboration with UWE Students Union on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This event raised awareness and called for an end of gender based violence towards towards self-defining women. We also launched our mapping Bristol project - encouraging women to map where they feel unsafe in Bristol so that we can work towards making the city safer.
6.Successfuly lobbied lettings agents to improve their treatment of student tenants
Our Don’t Rent Yet campaign highlighted key issues around student housing and helped you to know what to look for when house hunting, and what to avoid. Our campaign against lettings agent Digs has led to them agreeing to a number of our demands to improve their service going forwards.
7. Secured accommodation funding for the poorest students
We pushed for an accommodation bursary in the face of rising hall prices and as a result there will be £120,000 available for students in 2017/18. We are now in conversations with the university about rent setting for future years. Stephen has also been working with the university to set up a scheme for students to use the university as a guarantor in cases where they do not have a UK-based guarantor. This will particularly benefit international students.
8. Worked with the University to improve wellbeing support
We are sending a survey to all students about how to improve pastoral support in schools and halls. This will feed into the University's work on wellbeing and will inform the biggest change to student support in years.
9. Ensured that we continue to have a say nationally
We campaigned to remain part of the National Union Of Students. The referendum was won by 67% to 33% and we are now focused on seeking to improve the NUS through commenting on their democracy review.
We hosted the first ever South West NUS regional Network to build links with other Students' Unions in the region and to build activist groups in the South West. We've also taken steps to improve our own democracy and these have now been approved by our Student Council.
10. Made life easier for sports clubs and societies
We've tried to make life simpler and better for student groups. We've put in place a new website which is easier to find your way around and we've put in place a new finance system to make it easier for societies and sports clubs to see their accounts.
11. Delivered more opportunities to get involved in sport and activity
This Girl Can saw over 850 self-defining women taking part in loads of super fun sport and exercise classes, including a mass zumba party. Our Fit and Fab classes sold out in record time, but the good news is that more will be released after Christmas! Get Active continues to offer free and cheap sport and exercise classes at beginner level, so if you want to try something new, get down to some of them. We're also looking at ways to get as many people as possible involved in Varsity in term 2 and for the first time in 2017 we'll be doing a mass participation Varsity colour run.
12. Helped save you money
We held a secondhand book sale to help you make back money on books you don't need any more and our Lettings Agency continues to be the only agency in Bristol that doesn't charge agency fees (although we're working on that!). The NUS Extra cards we sell also help you save money on things like rail cards, eating out and shiopping.
It's been a really busy but brilliant term. If you haven't got involved in what's going on at the SU yet maybe you should. There's plenty coming up in term 2 including officer elections so get involved and if we aren't doing what you would like us to please let us know or stand for election yourself!
Have a great break,
Your officer team