The past few weeks have been hectic, not just for me but for everyone. I have mostly been in meetings regarding COVID-19, both preparing for the suspension of face to face teaching, the closure of the campus, but also dousing of fires when all of these actually happened. I am not sure by normal day by day update would be very appropriate for this update so I am going to be doing this in section. I am also going to try to be as brief and concise as possible, so please ask any questions if you are uncertain about something!
Barring the weekends, I have spent pretty much everyday working on the implications of this current situation and been in meetings with AUSA and the University to work on how we can deal with what’s happening in the best way possible.
By now, everyone already knows that face to face teaching has been suspended, all buildings on campus are closed including the libraries, and Boris Johnston have ordered everyone to stay indoors. I am now on day 8 of home working but it feels like it has been months.
I have been working with Louise (Communities Officer, VP for Welfare-elect) on getting students to be able to break their accommodation leases with the University. As the library closed last Friday (20th March) and other Universities were agreeing to break their students’ leases, Louise and I met with University and they agreed to move the decision to University Senior Management Team (SMT) whether students could break their leases with the University. SMT agreed that while it would have a significant financial impact on the University it was the right thing to do. As the 20th was the last day that they provided study spaces for students, this was agreed to be the start of the 28 days’ notice period. This applied to all accommodation contracts held with the University, not just those living in Hillhead – this means that if you are living at Ardmuir but your lease is with the University, you can end it also. Rooms that are vacated will be given out to NHS staff and volunteers to use to support them in the current situation.
Since then, both private student accommodations Unite and Liberty Living have followed suit and will let students end their leases at the beginning of the third ‘term’ (after Easter).
Emergency Food Delivery
Some friends and students have set up a free food emergency delivery scheme so that we can deliver food to those who are in isolation. These student volunteers will also do your shopping for you (but you’ll have to pay for that) and pick up your prescription for you if needed.
There are both Admin volunteers and Delivery volunteers. I mostly provide behind the curtain admin help, and I have spoken with the University about this and they agreed to donate food vouchers to use if necessary.
I have been speaking with a lot of students around self-isolation and the accompanying loneliness. We are now communing up with online activities we can organise for students to do either by themselves or in live sessions with other students, such as Book Clubs and fitness sessions. There are already a bunch of societies that is already doing this, such as the Knitting Society, Yoga, and the Comedy Society.
Any suggestions for activities, or if you know of any happening, please let me know so that we can make more students aware of these!
Louise have also set up a Facebook group called Aberdeen Uni Students – COVID19 Community Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/646638289452570/?multi_permalinks=647988372650895¬if_id=1585134979690154¬if_t=group_activity) This is for students to join, share positive messages and activities and apps they are using! There is already loads of students that have joined. All the Sabbatical Officers are moderators for the page.
I had a meeting with other Scottish Student Presidents, and we talked about our Universities’ response to the coronavirus crisis, and what we are doing to support students and what we are working with the University to implement and change. I am an ex-officio delegate for NUS, but for the Scotland conference this year Alexander (Welfare Officer) attended in my place, and Louise will be attending the UK Conference for me. This is because the Scotland conference was during the Sabbatical Election, and as the UK conference is not online, I am too busy to have the time that really should be dedicated to this matter, and Louise happily offered to do this for me.
I am currently writing my report to the AUSA Trustee Board and my work report to Student Council. Business must go on, so this will be published on my blog once it has been sent out to students.
I have been thinking about how to still have our April Student Council meeting and I have now pitched my idea to the other Sabbatical Officers and some staff members, and we made the idea into something workable. You will find out more about this once we have polished it and worked out the kinks, but I am very excited and hope the way we have decided to proceed with this will make it so that our meeting will be inclusive and accessible, despite the current situation!
Byelaws / Democratic Review
Been working on rewriting some of the byelaws as part of the Democratic review. The past few days I have been focusing on the parts relating to Standing Committees and Forums. Louise already collated feedback from relevant parties, and I am surprisingly enjoying typing all of this up.
I saw about a dozen bunnies on a walk. You can't quite see it in the pictures but I promise there were loads!
My cat went missing but is back now.
Since I can’t go outside, I have mostly been watching Netflix (Avatar, Crash Landing on You, To all the Boys: P.S. I still love you) and playing games (Journey, Dogs Life). I have also started exercising from home, which I am absolutely not a big fan of but I am still doing it, so I am very proud of myself.