officer blog

blog

sophie atherton

campaigns & democracy
s.atherton@uea.ac.uk

priorities for the year

Hi! 

I hope you are all starting to settle into university life whether you are a new or returning member. I thought I’d share with you what I am focusing on this year and what I want to achieve whilst I am in my second year of my role of Campaigns and Democracy officer.  

 

Accommodation 

Last year there was work done to reduce rents on campus. Unfortunately, we were unable to achieve this, but were successful in encouraging the university to look at the inclusion of the NUS Unipol’s recommended affordability factor (25% of accommodation shouldn’t exceed 50% of the maximum amount of student finance available in England), which should be achieved by September 2020. 

I want to go further than this and analyse why students are choosing high rent accommodation. I will also be looking into a robust rent setting process and supporting students who don’t receive the maximum student loan in being able to have affordable accommodation. I want to continue the work I started last year around the allocation process which will impact positively on the experience of students living on campus.  

 

Democracy Review 

The last time our democratic structures were reviewed was in 2017, and the last time they were looked at this widely is over 10 years ago. Over the last year as your Campaigns and Democracy Officer, I have been told through focus groups that some of you as our members don’t know how to or want to engage because of our complex and confusing systems.  

At the end of the academic year 2018/19, I consulted with the Student Officer Committee and they all agreed that a democracy review was needed. I’m hoping to have some of these conversations going in October with new and returning and members with proposals going to Union Council in this academic year. I want to ensure that your voice is heard at every point of the stage so if you’re interested in this, please get in touch.  

 

Transparency 

Last year, I saw multiple focus groups looking at our decision-making processes, your understanding of what we do as officers and how we communicate that with you. There was overwhelming feedback that sometimes it can be hard to understand what we do: manifesto aims, portfolio work and remits.  

As your Campaigns and Democracy, I want to have open office hours where I am available to chat with you all for a couple of hours a week for any campaign ideas, concerns related to your student experience or anything related to my remit- I’m in the process of setting this up!  

I am also hoping to have a greater amount of video content for you which will be available on our social media platforms. Additionally, the democracy review will look at transparency as this includes the accountability of me as your elected officer.  

 

Campaigns  

As your Campaigns and Democracy Officer, campaigns naturally come with the role. There are some campaigns that are continuing work from last year which I will be involved with such as Push for Paramedics, Decolonise UEA and Eradicate Hate.  

I’m excited to see the programme that has been created in collaboration with some amazing students for Black History Month. Have a look at my Decolonise UEA blog on how you can get involved. If you have any ideas for campaigns, feel free to get in touch and I’m than happy to have a chat! 

 

Some of these priorities will have a greater focus during this first semester and others in the second, but if any do interest you, please feel free to send me an email at s.atherton@uea.ac.uk or pop into the office in Union House and we can have a chat. 

 

 

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