The Reading Rep Issue 36

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In this Issue… October 2020

Features Student Spotlight Stories BAME Students’ Part-time Officer, Ruth tells us why learning about what’s happening now is equally as important as learning what’s happened in the past this BHM.


Your voice is more important than ever this year, make sure you have your say!


Top Tips for Talking (to your friends about mental health) Opening up to others about mental health can often be a difficult conversation to have. We’ve compiled some top tips and resources so you can feel more comfortable tacking those convos.

StudentLife Life Student

CFP Senior Rep Ellie has not only helped with our Elections but is also on the RAG committee this year, find out why she’s Rep of the Month!





This month we’re loving GBBO, Halloween and raising awareness of worthy causes.

What’s new with your Reps? Over the summer, big changes were made to how students can feedback to staff, ensuring that your voice is heard louder than ever. Read on to find out the progress that’s been made.


Meet Bio Sciences Senior Rep Evita in our back page quiz! She’s told us her lockdown faves and how you can reach her this year.


Celebrating our wins here at RUSU this month!

Sports and Societies Worried about how you will get to know other people or join sports and societies this term? Fear not! Almost all sport and dance clubs are able to offer physical sessions to their members, all whilst adhering to the most up to date NGB/government and facility guidelines. To fulfil your society desires they have all moved online! There are also some new groups for you to get involved with: Anti-Stress Society, Drag Society, Weightlifting, and Salsa. Go to to see the full list and to get involved!

Assessment Feedback Your Education Officers have been working hard over the last year to ensure that the feedback you get on your assignments is good quality and actually useful for you. The University have recently set up a working group to review the policy – great news! But we still need your help: go to to give your feedback so George can raise it at the group.

COVID19 Student Review We have launched the COVID19 Student Review! Participating in this review gives invaluable feedback to your Students' Union, which will be used to represent your views at high-level University committees and meetings in the year ahead. It is a great chance for you to have your voice heard.

Students may be aware that we have been experiencing technical issues with the website and as a result some students have not been able to login to vote. We have been working hard to resolve this with the IT team at the University and our website provider and are pleased to say that the issue has now been fixed. We have, as a result of the issue, extended the Autumn term Course Rep, PG Senior Rep, Student Voice and PTO elections voting period to Thursday 22nd at 4pm so students have at least another 24 hours to cast their votes, if they haven’t already been able to do so. We appreciate your patience with this matter and encourage you to vote by logging in and visiting

Your Say Check out what students are saying about their Reps and staff. Plus, share your stories with us by getting in touch…

“I actually had a bit of a win for our course yesterday. I got a lot of very anxious students coming up to me concerned about the split day (online and on campus) we had in our timetable. I then went around the bubbles during lunch break to see if everyone felt this way. They did so I emailed the head of our course who came in and spoke to us at the end of the day, and has subsequently changed it so that all the lectures for that day in the timetable are online – giving people a lot of travel time back. Lots of happy students!” - Poppy Rosenberg, Student Rep at the Institute of Education 2020/21

YOUR REP ACHIEVEMENTS! “I really enjoyed my time as a Rep last year, so much so, I am rerunning in these Autumn term Course Rep elections!” “I would recommend the Student Rep role to anyone looking to make a difference to their education and get involved on their programme – it is rewarding in unexpected ways and you learn a lot about yourself in the process.”


@RUSU academicrep

Got an idea? Make it happen! Our online platform Change It allows you to submit an idea to improve any part of university life. If the idea receives enough votes, the RUSU Officers have to work on it. Successful campaigns in previous years have included banning plastic straws on campus (exc. Accessibility reasons) and increased mental health provision so no idea is too big or too small! Submit your ideas here:

the view RUSU RATES…

Photo of the month!

The Great British Bake Off, Series 11, Channel 4

Have you seen our posters around campus highlighting key figures in Black History? Learn more about each figure as you walk around campus and put the jumbled letters in the right order to be in with the chance of winning a prize! Enter at

Bake Off is back! We don’t know about you but this heartwarming and wholesome show is everything we need right now and we are so happy to have it back. After a scandalous first couple of episodes, the office is divided in who the faves are, but we’ll all be tuning in each week.

Follow us @rusuphotos

Becoming, Michelle Obama, £8.99, Viking Publishing

Positive affirmation of the issue:

“Unless I am allowed to tell the story of my life in my own way, I cannot tell it at all.” – Mary Seacole

19years This year will be the first Halloween in 19 years to have a full moon! The last time that a full moon fell on Halloween was back in 2001, and before that it was back in 1955, will this year be extra spooky do you think?

In her memoir, Michelle talks openly about finding her voice as she grew up, and how she has since used it to advocate for better rights for girls ever since. A moving read from one of our biggest inspos.

Did you go sober for October? Become a meal planning maestro! Meal planning not only saves the environment but can also save you time and money. It makes your shopping trips so much quicker and more organised but means that you only buy what you need and cut down on your waste. In the UK, we waste around 6.6 million tonnes of food in households each year, just think about how many resources could be saved from simply making a shopping list!

Whether you are well on your way to completing Sober October or have decided to have a Sober(ish) October, you’ve helped raise over £2 million already! Sober October is a fundraising campaign aimed at challenging social drinkers to change their habits for a month and make some healthy lifestyle changes. Not only that but it raises money and awareness for those living with cancer, it’s a win-win as your hangover free head will thank you too!

“It’s time to make sure that both sides of the story are told.” STUDENT SPOTLIGHT STORIES INTERVIEW BY | BETHANY BROWN

Black people have always played a significant part in British history, yet much of their culture, heritage and hardships are neglected from texts, lessons and general education. The 2020 #BlackLivesMatter protests globally shone a light on not just the history of injustices that Black people have faced, but also the inequalities that they continue to face everyday. The needless killing of George Floyd ignited millions of individual commitments, shared with others worldwide, to educate themselves and help educate others about all aspects of Black history, and to stand in solidarity with those fighting against racism. BAME Students’ Parttime Officer Ruth spoke openly about why it’s vital we don’t lose the knowledge of the past and start to reimagine how this history will be told in the future. members didn’t speak English, and she would be judged because of her background but the BAME network was a good community to participate and involve herself with as it’s so inclusive. Having a BAME Part-time Officer like myself means you’re able to bring ethnic minorities together and create a community that will benefit all of us whilst at university. There’s often lots of miscommunication in conversations, and at university it shouldn’t just be down to me to represent the BAME community. We When I did the students network, students need to empower others to seemed happy to have a network they could fit ensure their voices are into. One of girl said she felt like she couldn’t heard and increase representation for all.” join the Asian or Chinese societies as most One of Ruth’s main driving forces when nominating herself to be the BAME Students’ Part-time Officer was to ensure that different perspectives were seen and heard, and to create a community where students felt they could fit in. “This role is a really good opportunity to showcase different outlooks and share what I feel and think should be done on campus or what should be out there. The BAME Students’ PTO has the ability to bring a different voice to the table as I have read and seen other work and its very repetitive. Everyone can have the same ideas but would go about them in different ways. It’s often the same old routine’s so I thought I would put myself up for the role as a gamble to promote diversity and present new ideas!

When I did the students network, students seemed happy to have a network they could fit into. One of girl said she felt like she couldn’t join the Asian or Chinese societies as most members didn’t speak English, and she would be judged because of her background but the BAME network was a good community to participate and involve herself with as it’s so inclusive. Having a BAME Part-time Officer like myself means you’re able to bring ethnic minorities together and create a community that will benefit all of us whilst at university. There’s often lots of miscommunication in conversations, and at university it shouldn’t just be down to me to represent the BAME community. We need to empower others to ensure their voices are heard and increase representation for all.” After the increase in awareness over the past year, Black History Month is a great place to continue exploring and celebrating Black heritage across the world, both historical and current day events. If the commitments shown on social media are to infiltrate into everybody’s daily lives, there need to be a collective effort to break down the barriers and differences between communities and start telling those untold stories. “There’s so many things I wish more people knew about; not just people outside of Black culture, but also Black people themselves, as many don’t know about certain issues, like things happening in other countries and cultures. Teaching is so heavily focused on American Black History which means there’s a lot of things that happened in Britain that British people won’t know about or have any clue it took place.

Ways you can start your education… Attend a talk. The Boukman Academy are holding a virtual talk titled ‘Precolonial Africa’ on 22nd Oct, where they will be highlighting the heights of African civilisation, delving into dayto-day life and exploring the abundant cultures of the time. Book your free space at Get interactive. Join Toluwa Oyeleye for her interactive seminar focused on what selfworth, self-love and self-confidence looks like for students of colour in celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth. Also on 22nd Oct, you can book your free space at Get reading. Ruth and RUSU’s Diversity Officer Rachel have started a book club! The first book will be Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Follow Ruth’s officer page on Facebook for more details coming soon. Or Listening. Ruth is also working on a podcast where she talks with students about various social issues including race. Contact Ruth if you’d like to be involved! Join the community. Whether you are a Black student yourself or an ally, you can join the BAME Students Community on Facebook.

There’s also a bigger question about what makes up Black History anyway. People always talk about slavery and the colonial times but Black people existed before then and no one knows about how they lived back in their day to day lives. You have to do research on all areas of Black history and educate yourselves. I’m working with RUSU to see how we can diversify the curriculum this year and get different schools involved. The back bone of western culture has so many tie ins with other cultures and if people don’t acknowledge that, a significant part of history will be lost, especially if history continues to be seen from a western perspective. As a Politics student, we have to learn a lot about history and war, and you talk about it from a western perspective but a lot of the people affected aren’t western so you need to bring on board their viewpoint so students can build a better argument.

students participating in extra-curricular activities. “The main barrier to participation is communication. During the network I was encouraging them to sign up and not look down on themselves; instead of seeing themselves as a label they should just go for it. I’m trying to get that message across to encourage all students to participate and dispel the mind-set that it’s not for them just because they don’t identify with other people. If you walk into a room and see everyone is different, don’t look at the differences or compare yourself, you’re here for the same reasons and you are all trying to make the best of your opportunities. By changing the perspectives and removing the stigma against how far you can go in uni, you can break down those barriers and improve the student experience, not just for yourself, but for others after you too.

Over this year, I want to get as many students as possible talking about their lived experiences and social issues. The more students we can involve, the more we can enlighten about important things, including Black history. It’s not just history however; we talk about Black History as though everything happens in the past but there’s so much going on in the present that are being neglected and that needs to be spoken about too”.

Throughout all my years of studying English you’re told you have to have two sides or points, to have a good, balanced judgement. It’s the same in the actual world as if you don’t get everyone’s perspectives, (regardless of whether you agree with them or not) you don’t get the full picture of have a true understanding of the lived experiences of everybody. We need to stop judging people based on their perspectives and learn from each other instead. We can learn so much from each other regardless of what point in life we are all at, and bringing people together, finding out their perspectives will all give us a better outlook on life. We might never be able to truly connect with something an individual has experienced physically, but we can empathise, and it will give us judgement and a better understanding of the world we live in. There are people that can be so narrowminded and only think about what has happened to them but t’s all about learning - If everyone always thinks the same thing then nothing will ever change”.

At Reading, 33% of students are recognised as BAME but that figure is not representative in student participation at RUSU. Ruth has made this one of her focuses for this year and is aiming to break the stigma about Black

Top Tips for Talking (to a friend about their mental health) The 10th October is World Mental Health Day and this year we were taking a look at how we can support those around us. In 2019 RUSU found that more than half of you (56%) don’t feel comfortable talking to your peers about mental health. We know that it can seem daunting sometimes but here are some top tips to help you have that conversation with a friend. Student Minds is a great place to go if you want any more information or tools: tartingaconversation.html WORDS | ABIEE HARRIS

Where could you choose to chat? Try to pick somewhere that is quiet but relaxed where you won’t be interrupted. That said, it can sometimes help to pick a place where there is something else to focus on so your conversation will not be the main focus, that way it may not seem so daunting.  Go for a walk  Invite them for a cuppa at a cafe  Invite them over for a dinner or a drink (tea is good!)

When you are on your own. Being amongst a big group of people could feel overwhelming to someone who might be ready to open up. You may have shared with your other friends that you are worried but make sure your friend knows that it is you who is there to listen and not a big group. It can also be useful to represent this in your language too e.g. ‘I’ rather than ‘we’.

When is best to have a conversation? When you have enough time to talk. If you have to leave half way through or only have a short time you may put pressure on the conversation. Also, if are worried about where you need to be next, then you won’t be focusing on the conversation and may (accidently!) make your friend feel as though you don’t care about what they have to say.

When it’s not a stressful time for them. Remember that this might mean different things for different people and what you find stressful might be different for them e.g. just before a deadline if someone struggles with anxiety or in a supermarket if you suspect they may have an eating disorder. Deep conversations can be difficult at the best of times, let alone when your friend is in a stressful situation too.

What could you say? Dos:  Be prepared, it may be useful for you to write down some things to say to prompt yourself  Use open body language throughout the conversation  Stay calm, try not to act shocked or surprised  Give them the opportunity to talk and just listen – open questions are great for this  Use reflective language to show that you have heard what they’re saying  Offer to support them after the conversation, they might want someone to go to the GP with for example Don’ts:  Worry that you won’t understand what they are going through  Give advice, remember you’re just there to listen  Use the word why – try ‘what is it about … that is worrying you?’, why can seem aggressive  Tell anyone about your conversation, they might not be ready yet  Pretend like the conversation never happened, be there to support them afterwards Remember that they might not be ready to open up yet. Doing these things can help them know that you are there when they are ready.

At the end of the day they are still your friend. Plan some fun things to do (and carry on inviting them even if they are struggling at the moment, they’ll come when they can and it will mean a lot for them to know you care), be there as support and carry on telling them you think they’re great (a bit of encouragement can go a long way)!


Sometimes people find it difficult to say the words so you could always let your friend open up in another way. Maybe they could write you a letter?

Check out Bandy’s ‘Let’s Talk Mental Health campaign’ It is no secret that a lot of students struggle with their mental health. Bandy’s campaign is aiming to create a student experience where all students feel supported and empowered with their mental health. A particular focus is helping students acknowledge that different student groups will experience different challenges or cope with issues in different ways. To find out more or to get involved with the campaign email

If you need help If you need help with your mental health go to to find out where to go. If you need urgent help ring 999 or the Samaritans on 116123

RUSU Education Officer works to foster a culture of partnership

For over a year the RUSU Education Officer and wider RUSU Rep team, including Student Reps, have been involved in the Student Voice and Partnership project, alongside key stakeholders at the university. And this month, we are pleased to reveal all the resources that are available to staff and students; including the new Student Representation Policy and Student Staff Partnership Group Guidelines.

On Wednesday 7th October, University of Reading staff received valuable resources from the Student Voice & Partnership project group, designed to help embed the Principles of Partnership (PoP) and improve student voice across campus. The full article was published after 21 months of meetings and lots of hard work on the project and has produced a range of guidance documents and toolkits, including RUSU’s Digital Representation tool ROSiE, here to help represent students whilst blended learning and virtual spaces are becoming the new norm. This steering group began in January 2019 with former RUSU Education Officer

Lillie-Mae Firmin representing students, and was then worked hard on by last year’s Education Officer Fifi Bangham. This year George Ingram has taken over the baton to ensure that all their commitment, which involved student and staff consultation, is implemented into policies and guidelines that are both staff and student friendly. He said:“I feel incredibly grateful to come in and contribute to the hard work done by previous Education Officers and see it come to fruition. For our digital rep tool ROSiE to become front and centre alongside a new clear and concise Student Representation Policy is great progress."

“I feel incredibly grateful to come in and contribute to the hard work done by previous Education Officers and see it come to fruition. For our digital rep tool ROSiE to become front and centre alongside a new clear and concise Student Representation Policy is great progress.“ ~ George Ingram, RUSU Education Officer Some of the highlights from the project include but are not limited to; • • • • • •

Student Voice & Partnership online toolkit Principles of Partnership New Student Representation Policy Student Staff Partnership (SSP) Group guidelines ‘Student opportunities timeline‘ ‘Your Reading'

How does this affect you? For starters, the new Student Representation Policy is for everyone (although staff and Reps might be most interested in it as a document for guidance) and having this clear policy is important to both RUSU and the uni, as it’s vital that your student voice is heard whilst you are studying at Reading. The student representation system has been in place for years but can always be improved, so the new policy is an attempt to refresh how we do representation at Reading. There are a few notable changes to note, including: the move to have more Reps represent schools, we call these Senior Reps now (who are responsible for representing at school level and termly meetings with departmental staff and School Directors of Teaching & Learning). new Student Staff Partnership Groups (SSP Groups) which replace the Student Staff Liaison Committees (SSLCS). RUSU’s new digital rep tool ROSiE (Representation Online Student Impact Evaluation) is a quick and easy digital tool for Student Reps at the University of Reading to use to help record student feedback in a virtual world and ensure the student voice is heard. Following ROSiE's successful Pilot during the first year of the SV&P project, where over 250 Student Reps were trained to use the tool and more than 293 utilised it over two months in 2019, it has been continued for this following 2020/21 academic year. Watch here to find out exactly what ROSiE is and how to use it!

Announcements Feedback is really important for both Senior Reps and Course Reps. It allows us to see if there are any problems within the Courses and modules. So, if you want to give direct feedback anonymously and anytime, make sure you use ROSIE. Here’s the link with instructions on how it works

Look out for 2020 Rep election dates coming soon..!

Change It! Deadline for ideas is Monday 26th October and save the date for the next Student Voice on Tuesday 10th November 6-8pm on Zoom

Course Rep Training PG Senior Rep Training PG Senior Rep Training UG Course Rep Training UG Course Rep Training UG Course Rep Training UG Course Rep Training UG Course Rep Training Course Rep Training (All) PG Course Rep Training PG Course Rep Training Chair Training Chair Training Course Rep Training (All) Course Rep Training (All)

Date Tuesday 27th October Tuesday 3rd November Monday 2nd November Tuesday 27th October Wednesday 28th October Thursday 29th October Friday 30th October Saturday 31st October Friday 6th November Wednesday 11th November Tuesday 3rd November Wednesday 11th November Friday 13th November Friday 13th November

Time 16:00 - 18:00 11:00 - 13:00 17:00 - 19:00 13:00 - 15:00 13:00 - 15:00 10:00 - 12:00 11:00 - 13:00 10:00 - 12:00 13:00 - 15:00 14:00 - 16:00 16:00 - 18:00 15:30 – 17:30 10:00-12:00 14:00 -16:00


Please note, links to training are here and will take place online. Now elected, Course Reps will be sent a Doodle Poll to sign up to your preferred virtual training date but can also go online to choose. BBC = Blackboard Collaborate

Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy Senior Rep Ellie Carter is mentoring & motivating! As a Senior Rep, Ellie intends to use her previous experience to help support and guide this year’s Course Reps. Her progress and dedication makes her our very deserving Rep of the Month! With the circumstances we all find ourselves in at the moment, strong representation is as important as ever. For Ellie Carter, a Senior Rep for Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, seizing the opportunity to provide this representation has been vital. “The value of communication between students and staff is often underestimated but, given the current situation, I feel it is more valuable than ever and I am looking forward to taking on the challenges of the year ahead. I really liked the idea of working alongside lecturers and other academic staff to improve the learning experience of my peers both in my department and across the rest of the school.”

I would encourage everyone to get involved with RUSU… it is SO worth taking the plunge!” Given that Ellie has been a Course Rep before, she feels she is ready to guide a new team of reps, helping and mentoring them along the way. “Having been a Course Rep last year, I’ve already had a flavour of how rewarding it can be to see the feedback being taken on board and the stress levels of my peers being reduced! I hope to be an approachable port of call for the Course Reps to help them navigate their way through the new blended learning environment. I also hope to be able to give good advice and guidance such that they feel they can bring up any problems they are facing...and remind them how positive feedback is always welcome and just as useful as anything negative!”

As well as helping guide her Course Reps, Ellie is keen to motivate more people to get involved with their Students’ Union. “The staff and officers in RUSU are all very approachable and happy to answer any questions you may have. I would encourage everyone to get involved with RUSU, whether it's through a society or as a member of the representation/student voice sector. My advice is to have a look through the groups and opportunities on offer through RUSU and just give them a go!”

Head to to see how you can get more involved in representation!


Puzzle Page

For Black History Month, we’ve taken the opportunity to celebrate BAME icons in our puzzles. Can you arrange the grey crossword letters to reveal a heroic historical figure? Answers in the next issue!

To see more about RUSU’s events for Black History Month, head to e/rusu/Black-History-Month-2020/. And if you’re a BAME student, or an ally of the BAME student community, you can join our Facebook group today! Search for the BAME Students Community and click to join!

Issue 35 Answers Across: 1. Palmer 3. The Spark 4. Sherfield 7. Change It 9. Geese Bonus word: Nominate

Across: 2. British F1 driver with six World Championship titles (5, 8) 5. Former US President (6, 5) 7. American actress who starred in The Help and Suicide Squad (5, 5) 10. American musician who released the songs Juice and Good as Hell (5) 11. One of the greatest basketballers of all time; currently plays for the LA Lakers (6, 5) 12. American poet and activist with over 50 honorary degrees. She died in 2014, aged 86 (4, 7) Down: 1. Actor and rapper that starred in BBC One’s Luther (5, 4) 3. Actor who starred in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and I, Robot (4, 5) 4. American actress who starred in XMen and Monster’s Ball (5, 5) 6. Trinidadian-American rapper known for the songs ‘Super Bass’ and ‘Anaconda’ (5, 5) 8. A talk show host and TV icon who has been named as one of the most influential women in the world (5, 7) 9. American tennis player with 23 singles Grand Slam titles (6, 8)

Bonus word:

Down: 1. President 2. Mojos 5. Elections 6. Bagelman 8. Advice

Sharing a coffee with… Evita

Quickfire Q’s Red or blue? Blue Summer or winter? Winter Apple or android? Apple Book or movie? Book Cats or dogs? Dogs Instagram or Twitter? Instagram Night in or night out? Night in Paris or New York? Paris Fruit or vegetables? Vegetables Sunrise or sunset? Sunset Pop or rock music? Both Comedy or horror? Horror


If you could be any animal for a day, what would it be and why? Any type of shark really. They have a phenomenal array of senses and I would be able to breathe underwater. What’s your favourite place on campus? Harris Gardens and the rugby pitch where I spend most of my Mondays and Wednesdays with RUWRU. If you could have dinner with any celebrity, past or present, who would it be? Freddie Mercury or Phoebe Waller-Bridge What’s the best holiday you’ve been on? Crete has my heart, no matter how many times I visit.

If you could choose any superpower, which one would you pick? Time manipulation or the ability to heal any illness/injury. What’s one thing people don’t know about you? Recently, I found out that I am afraid of height so that’s a new one for me too. What do you hope to achieve as a senior rep this year? My primary goal is to make sure that students have a smooth academic year, without any disruptions due to the current circumstances. If you could master any instrument, what would it be? Drums, piano and violin How can students get in touch with you this year? Through my student email! I’d be more than happy to help out, so just drop me a message on

You can find a list of all of our student reps on our website, by visiting