Hello! I have not yet done a very throughout update of what I have been up to since the new term started again, so lets correct that now!
I arrived back in Aberdeen from my winter holiday on the 5th of January and took the Monday off to get re acquitted with this time zone and have some rest of after travelling for a crazy amount of hours, so my first day back was on Tuesday 7th of January. Most of the first week back, I was caching up on all the emails that I had received since the 13th of December (my last day in office before the winter holiday). I meet up with our Events and Fundraising Coordinator, Ailsa, to discuss the campaigns workshops I am arranging for the end of February together with the NUS. We discussed what steps I would need to take next and how I can order food from campus services so that all the attendants will be able to eat - it'll be completely plant-based!
The Campaigns Workshops are open to all of our students at Aberdeen University and it is completely free, you just need to come with a campaign you wish to work on, or an idea for a campaign! To reduce waste, we will not be attendees any sort of notepads or pens, you will need to bring that yourself, as well as mugs for any tea or coffee you wish to drink! You can sign up to join at https://www.ausa.org.uk/getinvolved/campaigns/campaignworkshops/ and the workshops will be hosted on the 26th and 28th of February. You only need to attend one of them, however if there are more campaigns you are involved with then it is not impossible to attend both dates if you wish to do so!
On the Wednesday, I met with Principal George Boyne and we signed the Student Partnership Agreement (SPA). I have blabbered on about this agreement many times, but just to recap: The SPA is an agreement between AUSA and the University for different priority areas we wish to work together with to improve. The areas we are focusing on this year is Student Living; Communication and Engagement; Sustainability; Accessibility, Inclusion and Wellbeing, and Careers and Employability. The document will be accessible online shortly with more information on how we will work on these areas! I also met with the Principal to discuss the Sustainability Action Plan (you can find this in my previous blog post).
There was a Welcome Week Sabbatical Drop-in session, and I spoke with a couple of students about things such as how societies work and what I'm up to at the moment.
We had a meeting about the Annual General Meeting to discuss logistics, a post Stressed Out Students meeting to discuss the SOS last term and to come up with ideas for revision week this term, I attended a meeting with different people from various University departments to discuss the impact of the Capital Projects - mainly the disruption to the activities around the Kings College and Elphinstone Hall, and it was my cat Michelle's 3rd birthday! On the Friday, I interviewed for a fourth Student Trustee to join the AUSA Trustee Board.
On Monday the 13th January, I met up with the Student Experience team to hear about the results from the Student Experience survey that was conducted last term, and after that I met with Student Experience and the Multi-Faith chaplaincy to discuss the format of the Inter-Faith Kirking for the next academic year. In the past, it has been a very formal procession with speeches from the Principal (or Senior Vice-Principal), from the Student President, and from various Faith Groups on campus, followed by a curry dinner. Because attendance has been very low the past few year, we discussed replacing this with an informal dinner in which speeches were spaced out during the dinner (speeches will be and have already been on a specific theme each year) and to take away the very formal procession. Hopefully, this will allow more discussion between students and encourage more student to attend!
As a Sabbatical Officer on the AUSA Trustee Board, I am also part of the AUSA People Committee (I am the only Sabbatical Officer on this committee) and we met before the Trustee Meeting to hear updates from the HR Assistant, Laura. I attended the Activities Team Meeting, and at this meeting, it was suggested that we launch my occasionwear (free) rental in time for Sports Ball and Kings Ball. Afterwards, I met with Ailsa again to discuss the best day to do this (it will be on the 23rd of January this week!) and our Communications and Digital Media Coordinator made a plans for comms for students about this. This event (found here: https://www.ausa.org.uk/ents/event/2071/) will be an opportunity for student to come and borrow occasionwear to wear to a ball or a fun event, so that you don't need to spend money on a new outfit. All the available clothes are donated from AUSA staff, students and found in Swapshop!
I attended the Honorary Graduation Ceremony for the Royal Princess Anne and Professor Janet Darbyshire on the 14th as they received their honorary degrees from our University. After the Ceremony, I was invited to attend the VIP Meet & Greet where I got to meet the Princess Royal Anne and our University's Chancellor, The Duchess of Rothesay, Camilla. For those who don't know (including me as of 10 minutes ago), the Chancellor is the leader of the University, often a ceremonial non-residential head, but the chief executive is the Vice-Chancellor (who is Principal George Boyne). The Chancellor is the one who confers our degrees to us. We have a Pro-Chancellor, called Iain Torrence, who attend University events in place for Camilla. When we graduate, it will most often be either George Boyne or Iain Torrence who will be giving us the tap on our heads. If you want to know more about who Iain Torrence is, this is his wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iain_Torrance.
On the Tuesday, the AUSA Trustee Board also met. I chair this meeting and it's always a bit nervous since some on the board are much older and have much more experience, but I think that with each meeting I am getting better at this. Since we oversee the governance of the Association, we discussed things like the financial account, HR updates, and ensured that motions passed in Council were compliant with the legal requirement of us being an unincorporated charity.
On Wednesday, I helped out at the Refreshers' Fayre and met some cool societies/sports club. I joined two societies (Religious and Theology Studies Society, and the Thai Society) and I am considering joining a Sports Club (for the first time ever!! I was never part of one as a student!) but I went to a taster and absolutely sucked so I will attend one more session before I decide - I go to the gym a lot but sport is every different, and I don't want to humiliatingly drag down the club!
On Thursday, there was a meeting about the Space Management on campus. It was not overly exciting as the discussion mostly revolved around individual offices for staff and the amount of personal items they could potentially be restricted to inside their offices. I emphasises that the privacy of single offices were essential for students to have the confidence to be able to confide in a tutor or lecturer about challenges they are going through, but the staff present were very passionate and could discuss their needs themselves. I attended an Honorary Degrees Committee where we discussed the criteria for honorary degrees, notably members of staff at our University should not be able to get one while still a staff member, nor should you be able to get one simply because you had been on University Court or been part of the Senior Management Team.
There was a student council meeting on this day also. The Principal attended and gave a brief presentation about the University as it is presently (such as statistics, rankings, and priorities), which was followed by a Q&A session. After the Principal left, we discussed motions such as a demilitarised campus, 1 year experienced necessary to be the Chair of student council, and for the Sabbatical Officers to lobby the University for sport access to Butchard Recreation Centre.
On the Friday, I took part in interviews for a student-staff position within AUSA, and in the evening I attended a trial Swimming session with the Triathlete Club. On Saturday, I attended the Filmmaking Society's 20 Years Anniversary Ball, to celebrate the society being up and running for 20 years and all their hard work (I would say 'ours', but I am a horrible member...).
On Sunday, I attended the Secret Garden's introductory event and I got to use a Kelly Kettle for the first time!
And that's it for now!