Student Forum Annual Reports 2018
President Jake Saunders
It’s been an absolute honour to steer the work of Central SU for the last year. From national campaigns to meeting so many students one-on-one for well-being or general support, I have fought to be a President that above all else cares for the voice of our students. Below I lay out a list of a number of the things I have achieved this year.
It is worth noting that whilst I by no means wish to co-opt the work of my incredible team this year, some items are mentioned below for the level of support and involvement that I have had over the duration of the respective projects. They are also mentioned as I hope to highlight how inspiring these particular events have been to me, and how much they have aided my personal development in this role.
I humbly invite the Student Forum to approve my report, and join me in celebrating what has been an incredible year for Central SU. Thank you for all of your kindness & Support!
Organised the first ever TEDxRoyalCentralSchool event along with a team of remarkable volunteers, reaching over 50,000 YouTube videos & gaining international press coverage.
Supported Entertainments Officer & Activities Officer in planning and delivering Freshers Fortnight 2017.
Launched an enquiry into student safety following a string of moped-related incidents. Spoke to the school, local council and local police who have taken action to reduce the level of crime in the area.
Interviewed and supported the recruitment of the new Student Advice Service Manager.
Organised over 30 students to attend the ‘Free Education Now’ Demonstration.
Built the new Central SU website and reviewed our communication streams.
Submitted a Freedom of Information request into the cost of graduation and pressured school to release information about hardship funds for students that need it to attend.
Launched a referendum into whether Central SU should boycott the NSS, achieving an increased mandate to boycott.
Authored from scratch and passed the new constitution at Student Council in February.
Consulted with society leaders and activities officers to talk about sustainability and development of societies, leading to amendments to society regulations in the constitution.
Authored and passed policy for Free Education & UCU solidarity.
Authored a motion for NUS’ National Conference AGM to call for a definition of small & specialist institutions in order to protect our status in the national picture.
Attended the NUS National Conference on behalf of students at Central.
Created and launched an alternative feedback survey for third years during NSS boycott.
Co-launched Central Says Enough with Central SU Women’s Officer and the school following consultation with the Deans office about sexual harassment on campus.
Wrote a response on behalf of Central SU to the Office for Students regulatory framework consultation.
Worked with Steven Kavuma to pressure school to change photographs in the Board room to include more than 2 global majority alumni, co-hosting a celebration event as the new photos went up.
Successfully recruited Tatum as our new Part time Union Support Officer.
Succeeding in gaining temporary funding for a second Part Time Union Support Officer, Lauren, pending permanent contract (which, if granted, will see Central SU receive an increase in funding by approx. £14,000).
Laisied with Tender to recommend Central as a host for the launch of the Mayor’s Office’s £42 Million violence against women and girls strategy in accordance with the school and organisation Imkaan.
Worked with Tender to implement Sexual Harassment awareness training for Governing board as part of the Central Says Enough campaign, due to take place next term.
Supported students in organising the Walk out for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, and spoke during the event.
Worked to support our Black & Ethnic Minorities officers following the Dear White Central event, including facilitating discussions with senior management about an Access & Inclusion action plan due for public release to students soon.
Liaised with student Jaelyn Endris to pass a motion to the Central SU Development Committee to introduce a Trans Liberation Officer position.
Applied & was granted a second license to host TEDxRoyalCentralSchool
Begun to author a 5 year strategic plan for the Union, looking towards strengthening the work of the Union.
Worked as part of the Phase 5 User group to propose a new ‘Student Centre’ in Central following the completion of the North Block. If this goes ahead as planned, Student facing services (including Central SU, the Student Advice Service, Disability & Dyslexia Service & Learning Centre) will be co-located for accessibility, and Central SU will double its current space in the building.
Successfully lobbied for a prayer space and first aid room to be included in the plans for the new building arrangements.
Successfully elected a new team with a 36% overall voter turnout, including in to the new Trans Officer & Vice President Positions proposed as part of the constitution review.
Looking to elect the first Actors on to the Development Committee of Central SU in recent history into the Vice President (Acting) role.
Worked regularly one-on-one with students on a range of pastoral issues, including attending Wellbeing & Fitness to study meetings when invited.
Represented Central SU at meetings with the Conservatoire UK Student Network, GuildHE Student Network and National Small & specialist Union networks.
Launched Projects By You and have successfully funded and supported over 5 student led projects and campaigns, including a screening of the Acting Class, the MA New Writing night, Postgraduate Chekhov and Frantic Assembly Workshops and a Clothing drive for refugees in Calais.
Vice President (Operations) Holly Barraclough
Throughout the year I have co-run the Union’s development days with Jake and Stella, which take place before the start of each term with the whole team. During Fresher’s I organised the Fresher’s Fare, which was a great success with over twenty organisations attending. During the two weeks of Fresher’s I worked some of the registration sessions, attended all the daytime and most evening events, meeting as many new students as possible and trying to ensure new students felt welcomed to central. These two weeks can be extremely intense and for a lot of officers are the first thing they do, so I made to sure to support the team as best I could and be available at all times to anybody who may of needed me.
This year I have worked closely with the Activities Officers Laura and Sian, the campaigns officer Sally, the environments officer Pet and Joaquin and the women’s officer, Rachel.
I have shared my experience from being Activities Officer last year with Laura and Sian to advise them throughout the year. I have supported them in trying to manage the societies and worked with them to continue to develop and improve the societies we have at central. I worked together them Laura and Sian and Jake to rewrite the clubs and society part of the constitution, to create more structure and clarity to how the societies work here at central. As Laura and Sian are currently away, this term I have run all the society leader elections, something that we have implemented for the first time this year. I’m really excited for all the work the Society Leaders will continue to do next year, working alongside Laura and Sian and the Union.
Earlier this year I attended a two day small and specialist conference to get a better understanding of how student union’s can best support and advice their students and networked with other small and specialist institutions.
I also attended the Nation Union of Students Conference with Jake this year. Attending National Conference allowed me to understand how we, as a small and specialist institution fit into the picture nationally but also really reminded me just how important the work of student’s union’s is.
For the past 5 months I have been working with Josh, the academic dean and James Perkins, Head of Quality Assurance and enhancement on the student led teaching awards. This is something, which the school and the union are working on together to give students a chance to reward members of staff who they think should be recognised for something.
Throughout the whole year I have aimed to support the whole team, be someone who both the officers and the students feel comfortable to come and speak to and worked particularly closely with Jake, Stella and Clara. Within the last month I have been elected as the President for the next year. I just want to say the biggest thank you to Jake for everything you have done this year, you really will be a tough act to follow. I am so so proud of all the work we have achieved as a team over the past year and I am now just so excited for the next.
Vice President (Democracy) Stella Taljaard
Last summer at the start of my position i attended an NUS small and specialist meet up alongside Jake, to share strategies and tips on how smaller institutions can make the most of their relationship with NUS. During this conference I was exposed to national Union structures and began to learn more about how our year as a union would be effected by wider politics and campaigns.
Before the year started Jake, Holly and I co-ran the unions first development day as a team, delivering freshers training, sharing ideas, and discussing everyone's ideas for the coming academic year.
During the fresher's period i supported all officers in what can be a busy and overwhelming period of time, particularly for 1st time officers. I worked closely with Kim our entertainments officer, sharing my previous experience of that role to ensure that she was properly supported by a team of well trained, alert officers; and had a good understanding of the management and responsibility that came with the organizing and pulling off the freshers fortnight. During this time i also attended every single day event, and delivered tours and registration sessions, introducing myself to as many students as possible, making them aware of who we were as a team and the services we had to offer.
I spent sometime this year supporting a few undergraduate international students seeking advice on complications they were having with visas and finances and managed to engage them with the Student Advice Service who successfully dealt with the matters.
I supported our amazing Gender & Sexuality Officer's in their initial plans for the event LGBTakeover, which i am delighted to say became a reoccurring success for this year. Offering them practical advice such as budgets, external relationships, and general event planning (the rest was all them!!) Well done to Molly & Connor!!
On a less celebratory note, in my role as Vice President i was involved in some confidential student matters this year working alongside staff members to ensure that the structural procedures currently in place work fairly for all stake holders. This prompted me to form a good relationship with the assistant academic registrar, and she and i discussed a potential more appropriate way for SU Officer's to be involved in this kind of confidential responsibility, in terms of their mental health and well being while taking part in some of the more pressuring sides of the roles. Thank you to Jake for working with me during that time i really appreciated your support.
Generally i have tried to be a supporting VP all year round to all the officers, Holly, Clara and Jake! I have attended almost every SU event this year and have been a visible presence for students who know that they could approach me seeking advice at all times!
Thank you to Molly, Connor, Kaleya, JJ & Kim for being the most wonderful team to manage. I hope you felt well supported and once again i am eternally proud off all the work our entire team has achieved!
Vice President (Postgraduate) Clara & Caro
This year, the VPPG team has worked to become an integral part of the SU by participating in the Constitution Review, supporting our events, such as Dear White Central and Central Says Enough. We have been actively involved in contributing to ongoing discussions with senior staff and the Governor's in this regard. We have participated in course committees throughout the year. In addition, we are working on a strategic plan designed to better implement PG needs to the SU's remit.
We provided extensive feedback on the significant M-FRAME review in March, as well as contributing to the OfS Consultation in November.
We attended the NUS Postgraduate Conference as well as an ad-hoc Postgraduate Conference hosted by Birmingham Student's Union so as to familiarise ourselves with the possibilities and challenges facing Postgraduate Students. We have endeavoured to report back to the Union and the wider student PG student body on these topics.
Negotiating PG schedules has been challenging, and our attempt to host a social event was productive if only attended by a handful of students. Seeing this, we have focused on internal projects in order to lay down as solid a foundation as possible for the VP PG Role in the future.
Our remaining goals are to provide dissertation/SIP support, transparency on MA/MFA fees, continue our contribution to the M-FRAME Review taking into account PG needs and feedback from this school year.
Activities Officers: Laura & Sian
We are really sorry we can’t be there at the Student Forum, as we are away on a project in India.
This term we have been really busy! We have regularly promoted the Societies on Facebook, as well as creating the poster for the newsletter and sticking it around campus.
We have supported the setting up of the free Zumba classes, which have been a huge success.
Along with this, we have teamed up with Holly in working on the Society part of the SU Constitution, which was passed at the previous Student Forum. We have helped organise a range of Society elections to be run, whereby new leader(s) will be elected for the next academic year, being a point of contact for the SU.
Hope all is well and everyone has an amazing end of term and enjoys Summer Ball!
Black and Ethnic Minorities Officers: Kaleya & JJ
We kicked off the year by celebrating Black History Month with a series of events: a BAME meet&greet, workshop with Ayesha Casely-Hayford called Me, My Hair and I as part of her Afro Archives series, a workshop on African Influences in Latin American dance and a Celebration Party where we heard performances from students and shared food from Jamaica to Ethiopia. We've also had some fun trips such as seeing Five Guys Named Moe. We launched the new board room with the new pictures of BAME aluminium and have been campaigning for a prayer space for students who might need to use it during school hours.
We began this term with the event Dear White Central that discussed racism and diversity at Central through student’s testimonies, ethnicity demographics within the school, an interview with principal Gavin Henderson and a Q&A with a panel of industry professionals. This lead on to a number of meetings the students, the SU team, senior staff and others such as research fellow Nike Jonah and Neena Shah at The National Theatre to come up with action points the school can take to improve the diversity within the institution as well as improve on the student experience of BAME students currently at Central. We also attended a walk out organised by 2 MA students on inclusivity. Following the events of Dear White Central, a few BAME students had a lovely evening at Primrose Hill for a little self-care to discuss some of our feeling after the event as well as have a good time enjoying some nibbles and beverages.
Additionally, we also hosted an event Dreaming of Wakanda that launched a new podcast that discussed the future of the black community inspired by the movie Black Panther. A number of black students were also gifted tickets by The Black Ticket Project to see Nine Night at the National Theatre.
We also met with students interested in running for the role in 2018/19 and were pleased to have a higher turnout of nominees for the role than last year.
Disability & Dyslexia Officers: Robbie & Jess
This year, we continued the work of the years previous Disability and Dyslexia officer involving ourselves in the conversation regarding the need for a pot of money to fund diagnostic assessments. This is an ongoing conversation that we hope Ethan will be a part of next year.
Earlier in the year, we hosted our event doing it differently. Doing it differently was an evening of conversation surrounding disability in the performing arts industry. This was a great and insightful evening.
Later on into the year, we promoted TFL's 'please offer me a seat' badge release. During this time we had many conversations about how to apply and what the badges were for.
Outside of these two large scale campaigns and events, we have produced leaflets surrounding different disabilities,
Attended welfare meetings with students and had regular meetings with a library staff and learning centre about one to one study skills sessions.
Entertainments Officer: Kim Marsh
Although the current SU team didn’t come into office until august, my role began as soon as summer started last year to organise Freshers fortnight 2017. With the help of Jake, Holly and Stella, we organised two weeks of evening events from bar nights, to a fancy dress pub crawl to a silent disco at fire. Working alongside activities and other officers who organised day time events to make a packed fortnight for you all which I hope you enjoyed. I also went to the Eventslab conference and networking event with Holly to create more external links for events and venue throughout London.
Before we broke for Christmas I organised refreshers to welcome students back to Central in the New Year, with the help of activities to host another big fat quiz, as well as the Molly and Connor, to have a special refreshers edition of LGBT takeover at Her Upstairs and a party in the SU to end the week.
I have worked with Esther a few times this year. We created self-care packages and handed them out in the atrium for self-care week. For Valentines week, we created our own Central post box and got you to write postcards to friends and loved ones round Central, which we as your very own cupids, delivered to students and staff. Following this we held an event in the SU called ‘let’s talk about sex baby’ where we played a sex related quiz and activities which was a great laugh.
This term, I have been focusing on the summer wrap party which is on the 1st of July, tickets are on sale now which you can buy from me tonight. You can pay in cash with me or in the SU office or via Eventbrite.
International Officers: Isis & Laura
Campaigns Officer: Sally Bernard
This term I finished off the NSS boycott, held a voter registration drive and encouraged people to cast votes in the local elections, and have set up meetings with staff to discuss the hardship fund and student poverty.
Welfare Officer: Esther Lawrence
This year has been a good one - we kicked off with a visit from men talk health UK and a puppy party, followed by some self-care presents, a sex party and a post-box of love to name a few. The final term of the year has been a struggle trying to balance completing a degree against contacts and planned events that have fallen through. However there is still time and over the next few weeks I am hoping to collaborate with an immersive theatre artist running some self-care sessions and also bringing in a pop up sexual health clinic alongside the gender sexuality officers. It has been a pleasure serving on the union once again and I wish Florrie the best of luck continuing in the role.
Environments Officers : Joaquin & Petrina
Posted recipes, information on veganism (documentaries, active compassionate charities, facts about environment and ethics) on Facebook every day in February for 'vegebruary'.
Contacted Jay Brave, a vegan spoken word artist who came in to speak about the political connotations of veganism and its relation to race. He also performed a piece of spoken word.
Liaised with Adam Parker, spoke about Centrals energy usage and asked for permission for a herb garden on the rooftop.
Held a herb garden opening party on the rooftop and offered seeds to plant, homemade vegan burritos, had student environmentally themed performances and collaborated with Sally (the campaigns officer) who held a clothes swap and donated the rest to a homelessness charity.
Contacted the Humane League and got them to come in and run a night of direct action against McDonalds fast food chain restaurants.
Contacted Animal Equality and got them to come in and do a Virtual Reality experience of modern day UK slaughterhouse conditions.
Liaised with Dan at the Student Union bar and asked them to add a sticker reading (vegan options available) to their menu. I also Liaised with Sian from the canteen and asked them to add more vegan/veggie options to the menu and make plates more easily available instead of the one use disposable polystyrene food containers. I put up a poster in the canteen asking students to ask for a plate.
Liaised with the Laura and Sian (the Activities officers) and Nicole, in order to ensure that the herb garden society was set up. Promoted the Green Road Show on Facebook.
Amongst various posters for our events, made a poster for the environments board outside the SU which displayed various local sanctuaries, animal rights activist charities and organisations for gardening and community kitchens.
LGBT + Officers : Connor & Molly
Over the course of this year, as your gender and sexuality officers, we have thoroughly enjoyed working with the LGBTQ+ students of Central.
At the start of this year, we wanted to create an LGBTQ+ cabaret event that was inclusive of all students at Central. LGBTakeover has been a huge success, in not only giving a platform to LGBTQ+ artists at Central, but being inclusive of all courses. We have performers from the acting strands, theatre practice, DATE and the MA courses. Securing Her Upstairs as a venue for this event also allowed it to be a safe space for LGBTQ+ students, as well as allowing students to perform in a more professional setting, resulting in a number of our performers receiving professional employment following their performances at LGBTakeover.
For international AIDS day we campaigned in the atrium, engaging an impressive number of students in conversations around sexual health and the closure of local sexual health clinics. This was something that we eager to bring to Central following a freshers event that we organised with TheatreMAD, who performed their play ‘Are You Positive?’ for students at Central. The play explored the importance of regular testing and the differing stories of people living with HIV.
Following this performance, I recently gave a speech at West End Eurovision, an event organised by the Make A Difference trust. The event saw west end casts perform ex-Eurovision songs in the hopes of being voted the best of the night. My speech was about how the work of TheatreMAD affected our students. It was an amazing night and it was particularly beneficial to meet so many stage managers, artistic directors, charity organisers and performers who had once studied at Central.
For LGBT History month we hosted a number of events including a Drag masterclass with an alumni Drag Queen. It was fantastic to see networking happening between ex and current students and some of these contacts have developed into work outside of central. The singers edition of LGBTakeover was a huge success as we celebrated the work of LGBTQ+ artists in the industry. Our LGBT History month finale had an amazing turn out and was a great opportunity for students to socialise and celebrate LGBTQ+ history.
I was able to collaborate with other officers including Women’s Officer and Welfare Officer for an online campaign on sexual violence awareness week. We have also collaborated with officers on their own campaigns and supported Student Union events throughout the year.
It has been an amazing year on the SU and we are very grateful to have been your gender and sexuality officers this year.
Womens Officer: Rachel Vogler
Free pads and tampons
One of my biggest aims for the year was to trial a period of free sanitary items in the bathrooms by the Backstage Bar. The trial period was generally successful, and we received much positive feedback. It is my hope that the university will be willing to find this venture long-term, and install dispensers in the bathrooms that dispense free sanitary items, as well as installing sufficient hygiene bins and bags etc. I have had initial conversations about this, but am awaiting confirmation.
This year I have worked closely with Tender, a charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse through policy and using the arts. I sit on the Tender youth board, representing the Central women’s campaign, and I have attended many meetings and events. We hosted the launch of Tender’s bespoke universities campaign, Shoulder to shoulder, where we had union staff and university staff from universities around the UK come for a training session on tackling sexual harassment at university. I have been to meetings with Tender’s CEO, looking at how they can help support Central Says Enough, and how they can support the handover to the next womens officer.
I was lucky enough to be awarded student activist of the year at the Tender awards earlier in the year, and I am very grateful for this.
I have tried to make it a priority this year to work alongside the NUS Women’s Officer, and solidify our connection with NUS. This relationship has been fruitful and I have had a couple of great meetings with Hareem, and she’s supported us immensely throughout this year. We were also lucky enough to be awarded Women’s Campaign of the Year at the NUS Women’s awards, which was a very big deal for us!
Central Says Enough
Central Says Enough has been the flagship project of the women’s campaign this year. The campaign, for those that might not know, is a collaborative campaign between the Students Union and the school to end sexual harassment and sexual violence on our campus. Since its launch in February, the campaign has seen over 250 pledges signed and great support from the Central community. We have been working closely with the SAS throughout this process, and are in the process of setting up training alongside Tender and also looking at more long-term ways we can change policy and process to better support students. I have tended many conferences, including USVReact alongside Jake and Scott, and the 1752 advisory forum, with Catherine Mcnamara. A couple of months ago, 8 members of staff including myself were trained as first responders to disclosures of sexual violence and we have had 3 working group meetings for the campaign. I am looking forward to being a part of the continue growth of central says enough, we have meetings and sessions lined up – including one with Vicky Featherstone at The Royal Court in July.
Home To V8te
The SU decided that inaction wasn’t an option when it came to the Irish abortion rights referendum. We helped support students to travel home to vote for free and we ran a successful and informative campaign to promote Repeal, which included the creation of an information pack, a session run by Everyday Stories, and a tea and talk open forum on the date of the referendum itself.
Personal Student Support
Alongside these campaigns, student support has remained at the heart of my work this year. Whether that be one to ones, emails or informal discussion, I have endeavoured to do my best to support the women of Central, both in celebration and in times of great stress. I hope I have done this well. I have had a busy, enjoyable year and I am so looking forward to what the new team do.