Union Council 25/10/10 Sabb Reports: VP Media and Comms Charlotte Woods
I was warned that the summer would be a head first plunge into the workings of SUSU and that’s certainly proved correct for me and I know all of the other Sabbs. What I have been working on alongside staff and other Sabbs and Officers through the summer are:
I was told once I was elected that it would be impossible to see a new website launched this year so I am very happy to say that we have had the new SUSU website in place since Freshers’ Week. The site is a work in progress and Billy and I will be working very closely with the CMT staff to make sure that it fulfils the communications needs of SUSU and every student. In the interim period, we replaced the old site with a Freshers’ Site in anticipation of the new SUSU site, which I spent a lot of time writing and editing some of the content for to support the CMT staff in getting the site live and working effectively for new students.
Our Freshers’ publicity this year was more wide-reaching than ever before. We put out two Fresh magazines, one that was filled with information and support for new students and the second one included in a larger Freshers’ pack received from SUSU on their arrival, which points them to the clubs, societies and other extra-curricular activities students can get involved in whilst a member of SUSU. There was also the Refreshers’ wallplanner sent to all returning students and also the Freshers’ DVD. The Fresh DVD was started back in April and headed up by Jamie, myself and members of SUSUtv and CMT. We finished the project by employing student volunteers from susutv, Dax Wood, Ryo Tabusa and Dom Kullander to help make the DVD amazing. We screened the DVD in the Cube and in attendance were the Sabbatical officers from Cardiff SU. They were absolutely bowled over by what we had produced and said that the DVD was a real credit to SUSUtv and our students so that is a fantastic thing to hear.
Surge on FM
This year we were awarded money from the University to allow Surge to broadcast over FM for a fortnight over Freshers’ Week. The listenership was very positive and I hope it is something we will be able to do every year. I had a huge fight on my hands with the council this year who wouldn’t put Surge advertisements on the AA signs directing people to the University on move in weekend as they have done in the past, but unfortunately they weren’t giving in. This is something I will make sure my successor knows about and can try to deal with earlier next year.
As part of the new website I asked for a Sabb Blog to be created that was clear and accessible and that we could use for people to comment on our activity and upload photos and videos of everything that we have been doing. The blog is now off the ground and I will be working on how to make it more visible and user friendly as part of a campaign I will be launching relating to transparency and representation within SUSU.
I was approached by the University to work on a collaborative project to promote the Student centeredness Fund to students. The fund is available to students who wish to apply for up to £20,000 to fund a new project that will benefit all students. I met with the marketing department to begin discussion on how we would promote the fund and we agreed to promote it around December time with a view to the University changing one of the board dates to fit around exams and other SUSU campaigns. This is a project I will be hoping to put lots of time and energy into alongside marketing and the University as it such an important fund for students.
This year I have pushed for the Sabb supplement that normally is issued with the Wessex Scene at the end of each year, to be issued each edition of the Wessex Scene. This has meant a reasonable amount of extra work for me around Wessex Scene deadline times but equally is a medium that was previously untapped and I didn’t want to force the fantastic student volunteers to give up their pages in the Wessex Scene to facilitate Sabb information. With the new supplement, we always have a mechanism for getting messages to students in print without compromising the Wessex Scene’s creative license.
Wessex Scene: Winchester Section
Charlene and I recognised the importance of creating a Winchester section for the Wessex Scene after extensive research indicated that Winchester students would be more interested in being involved with the Wessex Scene than with a separate Winchester Publication. We have two new Winchester editors who are doing a fantastic job and I’m really proud that this is something we have managed to get going from day 1. The Wessex Scene and the Edge both now have four extra pages to accommodate the new section and more space for adverts to bring in increased revenue, which I hope will help fund the higher gsm of paper that I have been ordering this year for the Scene and The Edge to support their magazine formats,.
New Wessex Scene and Edge Websites
This year we have amalgamated the Wessex Blog with the old Wessex Scene online to create a new and more effective and accessible single site. We employed Chris Houghton to do this for us and the results are fantastic. A secondary thing that I asked for that we have also seen implemented was a new separate site for the Edge, to help promote and encourage the Edge’s independence and individuality. This new site, also designed by Chris, is also now up and running.
121s with media Departments
I’m now engaging in one to ones with each head of the media depts, to ensure that no requests that are made of me or from me to the heads of departments go missing. I hope this will help the media departments feel that I am more accountable to them, outside of the committee meetings and the larger media committee.
I am currently looking to discuss changing my job description to include some aspect of support of Union Films. Although as a commercial outlet they are supported by ents, I feel that the student volunteers who work so hard to make it happen deserve the same support from a Sabbatical as any other media department.
Surge Studio Refurb
Money was passed through UMB to refurb the Surge studios and to upgrade the systems, to allow for a higher number of online listeners. The refurb has started and will hopefully be completed in the near future (I’m not sure how near, but certainly near!)
This year, I put on a programme of training events for each media department, whereas in the past, training has only occurred for the Wessex Scene and the Edge. I put this on every day across two weeks, so it took up a large amount of my time over the summer. One of these days was attended by all media departments, with the aim of each department mixing and learning about being part of a SUSU media organisation more broadly. The day included training from the BBC and an interactive session with SUSU staff and myself and Billy, to help all departments understand their role and start thinking about working together. The day also included a social and I will be feeding back what we gleaned from the SUSU session at media committee this week. Feedback I have received on this training fortnight has been very positive and I hope it is something that my successor will continue and build on next year.
Many of you will have seen last year’s Evolve branding attached to things such as the Sabb review. I love this branding and want to roll it out as part of a much larger, cross campus campaign on representation and transparency within the Students’ Union. Watch this space for more details on Evolve, but I hope it will become a brand that everyone recognises as bringing information that will help them be fully represented and fully understand their rights and opportunities as students and members of SUSU. This is very much in the planning stages but I wanted to share it as I’m very excited about it.
As part of this Evolve campaign, I want to push ahead with student forums –a manifesto point that I was thinking may not come to fruition, as I wrote it without being very well informed on Union governance and structure. I believe there is a very real and very exciting place for themed student forums, tackling significant student issues. The forums will be intended to generate debate that Sabbs can take to decision making bodies on the issues that affect you as students. Again, in the planning stages as part of Evolve, but something I’m very excited about.
I have taken issue with Student Services at the University over the non-holistic nature of the comms from all outlets including the students Union to new arrivals over the summer, including the extra difficulties faced by the international and pre-sessional students. My suggestion to the board SAAD was that from February onwards, A recurrent agenda item was the discussion on comms, how the University can make them more holistic and how SUSU can work with them to ensure than message are not repeated or clouded. This to me will include reviewing the way that the University deals with their entire system of contacting new students, from the moment they accept their place to the moment they arrive in halls. I have also requested that SAAB be attended by permanent comms staff from SUSU from February and the VPComms elect from March.
Media Depts in Freshers
Our media depts all had hugely successful presences at the Bunfight and Moving in Weekend. Notably during Freshers’ Week; notably, SUSUtv conducted a live broadcast which they set up and produced themselves from scratch without my support, so I really want to point out just how talented and dedicated the teams of Student Volunteers who work in the media departments really are; I have been incredibly proud of them throughout the summer, training fortnight and Freshers’ Week –long may this continue!!
Charlotte Woods VPComms
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