FTO Questions

 

FTO Questions

At last week's AGM, you got the chance to question the Full-time Officers on their time in office and hold them to account. Here's what they had to say:

Shona Johnson, Welfare Officer:

1. Is there still a plan for cheaper bus travel between campuses?
Cheaper bus travel between campuses is still a priority for myself and a few of my team members, thus far we've been left out of discussions about price increases - but we haven't given up just yet. We will continue to lobby the University for cheaper bus travel between campuses, for an institution that promotes 'green' living so much - nothing has been done to lower bus prices for those of us who can't afford bus passes.

2. Would the Union provide mental health first aid training for students?
Mental Health First Aid (offered by the charity Mind) is a two day intensive course that costs roughly £300 per person, so offering it to anyone and everyone will prove to be a bit difficult. However, if we can find a provider that can offer similar training to groups for a lower price, this is definitely something we can and will get up and running.

3. What’s happening with Student Counselling Services?
The entirety of the University's wellbeing service was recently closed and put under review, as of the moment changes are being made to improve the service but as far as I am aware the counselling service in particular is hugely oversubscribed and long waiting lists still persist. There are a number of things I am trying to do to help ease the caseload, but suggestions are always welcome and I am happy to share what I have been working on. My email address is shona.johnson@swansea-union.co.uk.

Chris Freestone, Societies and Services Officer:

1. Is there a lease on Costcutter or could someone like Tesco take over the site?
Yes, the Union operates within a Lease Agreement for the Costcutter store.

2. What progress have you made in helping societies to become GDPR compliant/what plans are in place?
There will be a societies know-how event on GDPR, Thursday 10th May, that all committee members can attend. Geri and I will also have discussions over the summer about how we can best support societies with GDPR, with a focus on data gathering, by societies during Freshers' Fayre.

Gwyn Aled, Sports Officer:

1. Why has climbing repeatedly been denied Varsity status despite sinking thousands of pounds into running a trial phase for the past 3 years?
This was a decision made by the Varsity Board after all the final budgeting costs came through. It was decided that this along with other trial Sports would be unaffordable. For next year, the board are currently reviewing all sports involved to decide which to involve. Here they will be reassessing all sports and looking at the costs involved.

2. Why do sports members need to be paid to take part in Varsity? Surely they are volunteers?
This question makes no sense. Assuming this question is asking why they have to pay, it's quite simply because the event would not be able to take place if they didn't pay. Varsity is not a profit based event, it's a participation event which only just cuts even. Players receive £10 back for playing so a discount I believe is a fair compromise. 

3. Will you create any way of recalling FTO’s?
There is a staff disciplinary policy in place. 

4. Will the Union be giving any financial help to sports clubs to fund training, equipment and any other essential things since they can no longer gain funding from clubs or bars?
The University (not Union) have agreed to make up the difference in the loss of income from the lack of Bar Sponsorship. This was explained to all clubs back in September.

5. How will the Union ensure that all BUCS scores are submitted in time to avoid any potential problems such as the one American Football almost faced? The score was not submitted in time which could have affected their national championship chances because of the change in ranking and games cancelled because of snow.
This was not a Union issue, this was a Sport Swansea (University) issue. All BUCS matters are dealt with by Sport Swansea. This is the first I have heard of this issue and I would suggest getting in touch to discuss this further. 

Chisomo Phiri, President:

1. What attributes would you say makes a successful FTO?
A successful FTO is someone who always has the best interests of their members at heart. Being an FTO can be tough so you must have a thick skin. A successful FTO is passionate, engaging and driven. Someone who always listens to the student voice and fights for their rights, whether that's in the University or nationally.  

2. Why was there no shuttle bus between campuses?
Unfortunately, the travel links in Swansea are not as good as those in other big cities and First Cymru is the only main bus provider. We have tried to work with them for cheaper bus travel for students by introducing the off-peak day ticket, however I know that this does not appeal to all students. Realistically a free shuttle bus between the two campuses would be extremely expensive and it wouldn’t be something that's financially viable to the Students' Union. However, the SU will continue to lobby the University and First Cymru for cheaper and sustainable travel for students as this is a key part of University life.

3. What’s been your biggest success within your role and why?
I have too many to chose from! I would have to say the International Street Food market on Bay Campus because this is something that students directly asked for and I delivered. Hosting Swansea’s first ever ‘Reclaim the Night’ for our 16 Days of Activism campaign was an amazing experience and it was good to raise awareness of sexual harassment on campus. Being able to represent Swansea on a national level through NUS Society and Citizenship Committee was also a big success. 

4. We send the NUS £22,000 a year, why can’t we fund our College departments instead? 
The University and Students' Union are two separate organisations that exist in parallel to each other. We have separate finances, staff, and most importantly, we are run by students for students. Each year we hold an affiliations referendum where our members (Swansea students) decide whether or not we will rejoin NUS for the next year and pay the affiliation fee. Every year the students vote to stay affiliated with NUS. As the Union is separate from the university, if the students voted against re-affiliating, the money would not go to the colleges as these are funded by the Uni, but would instead be invested into union services, sports and societies.

5. In light of the new Welsh Language Laws, what measures have been made to promote a bilingual Union?
We're very supportive of the Welsh Language. There is a part-time Welsh Affairs Officer on our Executive Committee who represents all Welsh and Welsh-speaking students, works very closely with Academi Hywel Teifi and arranges cultural events for students. Additionally, a referendum will soon be held for a Full-time Welsh Affairs Officer. Also, our translator ensures that all content published is bilingual and our Welsh Society is one of the biggest on campus. 

6. What has the Union done to support delegations for Liberation NUS Conference, such as funding for a full delegation? 
For every Liberation NUS Conference, we have sent our PTO’s to the relevant conference. For example, Fardowsa, our BME Officer went to NUS Black winter conference and Joe, our LGBT+ Officer, went to NUS UK LGBT+ conference. If students wish to attend any of the conferences they can request to via the Student Voice team, however this is dependant on whether we have the sufficient funds, and, in some instances, we cannot afford to send everyone! NUS will provide some funding, depending on the circumstance.

7. What plans are there for a Student Activity Centre on Bay Campus?
Currently there are no concrete plans for a Student Activity Centre on Bay Campus. However there have been significant conversations in SMT about having one and the Student Union is very supportive of this.

Emily Rees, Education Officer:?

1. Why hasn’t anything been done about coursework deadlines on the same day, especially in COAH and Engineering?
To assure the University could promise a gap between exams and coursework deadlines I had to pass a paper through the University Learning and Teaching Committee. When presenting the paper to the University, they only allowed a 24 hour gap between exams to be passed. This was largely to do with COAH as the Director of Learning and Teaching for that College explained that a survey had taken place within the college which showed that students said they preferred deadlines closer together at the end of the term rather than having spread out deadlines. I'm yet to find this survey or it's results, so I also questioned a few subject reps on the matter and they hadn't heard of the survey with some disagreeing with the results. The paper is due to go through Learning and Teaching again in June surrounding the gap between deadlines and a bigger gap around exams for all colleges, but bigger discussions are taking place on whether students would prefer deadlines more spread out as this would involve having deadlines before the April half term for some colleges.

2. We are a tri-campus University, but they are not considered equal. What steps are you taking to equal out representation? Furthermore, most of the union’s activities centre around Singleton, which more students moving to Bay, will the Union be equalling out its activities across both campuses?

Our key form of representation, which is why I believe I have been asked this question, is our student reps. Me and my colleague Steph from student voice have worked really hard this year to encourage more engagement with the Carmarthen campus, we've visited the campus with the College Reps and have had meetings with their student reps to understand their needs and how we can improve our services for them, but unfortunately s the issues here with regards to getting staff based down there. We also held a student forum and made them aware of our services such as the fact that our Welfare Advisors can be requested to come down to Carmarthen to have appointments with students.

The Union tries to base all of its activities on both Campus' where they can, however engagement is the biggest issue here as there have been many times were the Union have held workshops or events and no one has turned up on bay. For me personally, the study aid campaign is where we really push to have activities on both campus' to help aid all students through their exams, so we ensure we hold all events and activities for this campaign on both campus' during the exam period. Chizi, President, is also holding an international food festival especially for bay to help increase  and get students from Singleton to visit bay in the hope that more societies will hold events on bay also. 

 

Holi'r SLlA

Yn CCB wythnos ddiwethaf, gaethoch chi'r cyfle i holi'r Swyddogion Llawn-amser am eu hamser yn eu swyddi a'u dal nhw i gyfrif. Dyma beth ddywedon nhw:

Shona Johnson, Swyddog Lles:

1. Is there still a plan for cheaper bus travel between campuses?
Cheaper bus travel between campuses is still a priority for myself and a few of my team members, thus far we've been left out of discussions about price increases - but we haven't given up just yet. We will continue to lobby the University for cheaper bus travel between campuses, for an institution that promotes 'green' living so much - nothing has been done to lower bus prices for those of us who can't afford bus passes.

2. Would the Union provide mental health first aid training for students?
Mental Health First Aid (offered by the charity Mind) is a two day intensive course that costs roughly £300 per person, so offering it to anyone and everyone will prove to be a bit difficult. However, if we can find a provider that can offer similar training to groups for a lower price, this is definitely something we can and will get up and running.

3. What’s happening with Student Counselling Services?
The entirety of the University's wellbeing service was recently closed and put under review, as of the moment changes are being made to improve the service but as far as I am aware the counselling service in particular is hugely oversubscribed and long waiting lists still persist. There are a number of things I am trying to do to help ease the caseload, but suggestions are always welcome and I am happy to share what I have been working on. My email address is shona.johnson@swansea-union.co.uk.

Chris Freestone, Swyddog Cymdeithasau a Gwasanaethau:

1. Is there a lease on Costcutter or could someone like Tesco take over the site?
Yes, the Union operates within a Lease Agreement for the Costcutter store.

2. What progress have you made in helping societies to become GDPR compliant/what plans are in place?
There will be a societies know-how event on GDPR, Thursday 10th May, that all committee members can attend. Geri and I will also have discussions over the summer about how we can best support societies with GDPR, with a focus on data gathering, by societies during Freshers' Fayre.

Gwyn Aled, Swyddog Chwaraeon:

1. Why has climbing repeatedly been denied Varsity status despite sinking thousands of pounds into running a trial phase for the past 3 years?
This was a decision made by the Varsity Board after all the final budgeting costs came through. It was decided that this along with other trial Sports would be unaffordable. For next year, the board are currently reviewing all sports involved to decide which to involve. Here they will be reassessing all sports and looking at the costs involved.

2. Why do sports members need to be paid to take part in Varsity? Surely they are volunteers?
This question makes no sense. Assuming this question is asking why they have to pay, it's quite simply because the event would not be able to take place if they didn't pay. Varsity is not a profit based event, it's a participation event which only just cuts even. Players receive £10 back for playing so a discount I believe is a fair compromise. 

3. Will you create any way of recalling FTO’s?
There is a staff disciplinary policy in place. 

4. Will the Union be giving any financial help to sports clubs to fund training, equipment and any other essential things since they can no longer gain funding from clubs or bars?
The University (not Union) have agreed to make up the difference in the loss of income from the lack of Bar Sponsorship. This was explained to all clubs back in September.

5. How will the Union ensure that all BUCS scores are submitted in time to avoid any potential problems such as the one American Football almost faced? The score was not submitted in time which could have affected their national championship chances because of the change in ranking and games cancelled because of snow.
This was not a Union issue, this was a Sport Swansea (University) issue. All BUCS matters are dealt with by Sport Swansea. This is the first I have heard of this issue and I would suggest getting in touch to discuss this further. 

Chisomo Phiri, Llywydd:

1. What attributes would you say makes a successful FTO?
A successful FTO is someone who always has the best interests of their members at heart. Being an FTO can be tough so you must have a thick skin. A successful FTO is passionate, engaging and driven. Someone who always listens to the student voice and fights for their rights, whether that's in the University or nationally.  

2. Why was there no shuttle bus between campuses?
Unfortunately, the travel links in Swansea are not as good as those in other big cities and First Cymru is the only main bus provider. We have tried to work with them for cheaper bus travel for students by introducing the off-peak day ticket, however I know that this does not appeal to all students. Realistically a free shuttle bus between the two campuses would be extremely expensive and it wouldn’t be something that's financially viable to the Students' Union. However, the SU will continue to lobby the University and First Cymru for cheaper and sustainable travel for students as this is a key part of University life.

3. What’s been your biggest success within your role and why?
I have too many to chose from! I would have to say the International Street Food market on Bay Campus because this is something that students directly asked for and I delivered. Hosting Swansea’s first ever ‘Reclaim the Night’ for our 16 Days of Activism campaign was an amazing experience and it was good to raise awareness of sexual harassment on campus. Being able to represent Swansea on a national level through NUS Society and Citizenship Committee was also a big success. 

4. We send the NUS £22,000 a year, why can’t we fund our College departments instead? 
The University and Students' Union are two separate organisations that exist in parallel to each other. We have separate finances, staff, and most importantly, we are run by students for students. Each year we hold an affiliations referendum where our members (Swansea students) decide whether or not we will rejoin NUS for the next year and pay the affiliation fee. Every year the students vote to stay affiliated with NUS. As the Union is separate from the university, if the students voted against re-affiliating, the money would not go to the colleges as these are funded by the Uni, but would instead be invested into union services, sports and societies.

5. In light of the new Welsh Language Laws, what measures have been made to promote a bilingual Union?
We're very supportive of the Welsh Language. There is a part-time Welsh Affairs Officer on our Executive Committee who represents all Welsh and Welsh-speaking students, works very closely with Academi Hywel Teifi and arranges cultural events for students. Additionally, a referendum will soon be held for a Full-time Welsh Affairs Officer. Also, our translator ensures that all content published is bilingual and our Welsh Society is one of the biggest on campus. 

6. What has the Union done to support delegations for Liberation NUS Conference, such as funding for a full delegation? 
For every Liberation NUS Conference, we have sent our PTO’s to the relevant conference. For example, Fardowsa, our BME Officer went to NUS Black winter conference and Joe, our LGBT+ Officer, went to NUS UK LGBT+ conference. If students wish to attend any of the conferences they can request to via the Student Voice team, however this is dependant on whether we have the sufficient funds, and, in some instances, we cannot afford to send everyone! NUS will provide some funding, depending on the circumstance.

7. What plans are there for a Student Activity Centre on Bay Campus?
Currently there are no concrete plans for a Student Activity Centre on Bay Campus. However there have been significant conversations in SMT about having one and the Student Union is very supportive of this.

Emily Rees, Swyddog Addysg:?

1. Why hasn’t anything been done about coursework deadlines on the same day, especially in COAH and Engineering?
To assure the University could promise a gap between exams and coursework deadlines I had to pass a paper through the University Learning and Teaching Committee. When presenting the paper to the University, they only allowed a 24 hour gap between exams to be passed. This was largely to do with COAH as the Director of Learning and Teaching for that College explained that a survey had taken place within the college which showed that students said they preferred deadlines closer together at the end of the term rather than having spread out deadlines. I'm yet to find this survey or it's results, so I also questioned a few subject reps on the matter and they hadn't heard of the survey with some disagreeing with the results. The paper is due to go through Learning and Teaching again in June surrounding the gap between deadlines and a bigger gap around exams for all colleges, but bigger discussions are taking place on whether students would prefer deadlines more spread out as this would involve having deadlines before the April half term for some colleges.

2. We are a tri-campus University, but they are not considered equal. What steps are you taking to equal out representation? Furthermore, most of the union’s activities centre around Singleton, which more students moving to Bay, will the Union be equalling out its activities across both campuses?

Our key form of representation, which is why I believe I have been asked this question, is our student reps. Me and my colleague Steph from student voice have worked really hard this year to encourage more engagement with the Carmarthen campus, we've visited the campus with the College Reps and have had meetings with their student reps to understand their needs and how we can improve our services for them, but unfortunately s the issues here with regards to getting staff based down there. We also held a student forum and made them aware of our services such as the fact that our Welfare Advisors can be requested to come down to Carmarthen to have appointments with students.

The Union tries to base all of its activities on both Campus' where they can, however engagement is the biggest issue here as there have been many times were the Union have held workshops or events and no one has turned up on bay. For me personally, the study aid campaign is where we really push to have activities on both campus' to help aid all students through their exams, so we ensure we hold all events and activities for this campaign on both campus' during the exam period. Chizi, President, is also holding an international food festival especially for bay to help increase  and get students from Singleton to visit bay in the hope that more societies will hold events on bay also. 

 

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