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MEET YOUR 5 FULL-TIME OFFICERS We catch up with the new FTO & PTO teams for 2019/20. Get to know them more on p8-11


Student Spotlight Stories

Coming together:

How building communities in HE is key 1


In this Issue… September 2019


Student StudentLife Life 04

Student Spotlight Stories

Want to see what other reps have done this month? Check out our top quotes on Page 4.

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Student Trustee Will Page sits down with us to discuss how community has helped shape his time at Reading on Page 6.

Meet your new Full-time Officers… Your five new Fulltime Officers Zeid, Gemma, Molli, Fifi and Daisy are officially in post! Get to know them in our FTO feature on Page 8.


Maria Fontenelle was picked to be this issue’s Rep of the Month for her dedication to the PG community. Read more on Page 12.

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Regulars 05

Introducing our new feature on Page 5 with our top picks, top tips and more…

… and your Part-time Officers! We also have nine new Part-time Officers beginning their year in office! They answer our questions about their main aims, movies and more on Page 10.


10 International Students’ PTO and Student Voice Chair Sara shares all her current favourites in our back page quiz.


Your Say Check out what other reps are saying about their experiences and share your stories with us by getting in touch… “A really heart-warming aspect of the Course Rep role is feeling that students are able to approach you about anything. It’s nice to know they are confident enough to reach out, whether it’s in person, or just a single text. I feel proud that I can be an approachable role-model for others. Many students reached out about their issues with deadlines, or concerns with lectures and Blackboard for example. I was able to bring these issues to light in the SSLC meetings, and the staff members present were able to push for these changes! The active involvement with my cohort (whereby I had to listen to their concerns/issues then appropriately deliver them within meetings with staff) has had a huge impact on my communication skills and my confidence. I also feel that the role has increased my interpersonal skills, making me more professional and sensitive to the things that matter most.” Anonymous response from the 2019 Annual Impact Survey

Pick up a prize next month…

Be our star letter next issue of RR & pick up one of our exclusive REPtalks notepads and pens, complete with an inspirational quote!

“From participating in meetings and chairing my own section of them, to communicating with fellow students in a reasoned and polite manner, my role of Academic Rep has allowed me to grow as a person and provided many skills which will enhance my CV.” …………………………………. “I believe the Course Reps are trusted to be a good source of knowledge and I enjoy being part of a group of Course Reps that fight for change and answer peoples queries” …………………………………


We’re always thinking about food here at RUSU and in preparation for the return of the food market, we’re celebrating the fruit of the season, BLACKBERRIES! From pies to the humble crumble, we’re excited to get foraging around the local countryside and get baking, just in time for the next series of Bake Off, starting this week! Eeek! We can’t wait! But for now, check out this BBC Good Food Blackberry and Apple Crumble recipe here. Our Academic Rep Manager, Hannah made it last weekend – yum!



Our fave #uniofreading insta photo since our last issue was taken by @djesseb97

Follow us @rusuphotos

Positive affirmation of the issue:

“Today’s accomplishments were

yesterday’s impossibilities.” – Robert H. Schuller

1.5days According to a study in The Lancet Psychiatry those who exercise regularly have one and a half fewer days of poor mental health a month, compared to those who don’t exercise at all. Perhaps an evening stroll in the sunshine is in order this week?


RUSU RATES… Orange is the New Black, Season 7, Netflix As we return to Litchfield for one last series our fave characters carry on causing a stir and we continue to follow Piper’s journey as she re-adjusts to the outside world.

Blackwells’ Lilia Loves… Bridge of Clay, Markus Zusak The long-awaited follow-up to The Book Thief, Bridge of Clay is a haunting tale of Matthew Dunbar’s journey to re-unite his scattered family.

Stretch, don’t sit!


Get your food shop delivered to your door! Home delivery is like taking the bus one van can cover multiple orders instead of individual trips and it’s easier for you! You’re also less likely to impulse buy online meaning you’ll save money as well as the planet!

A recent study at the University of Arizona found that people in open-plan offices clocked up 32% more physical activity than those in private offices, and 20% more than workers in cubicles. Researcher Esther Sternburg said: ‘A change in office design is a passive way of getting people to be active,’

How building communities in HE is key! Student Spotlight Stories

In a world full of smart phones, insta stories and Facebook bubbles, is it time to reassess what the word community means to us and society in general? We spoke to final year Law Student and RUSU Student Trustee, Will Page, to find out his experiences of community at Reading, how Reps are creating connections to develop different communities and why gathering face to face still, could be the key to sustaining our communities in the future… INTERVIEW : HANNAH SMITHSON RR: Why is community important at University? WILL: It’s so easy at University to feel like you’re on your own. For many students it’s the first time they’ve moved away from home, it’s the first time that you’re out there by yourself. I think feeling a part of something or feeling connected to where you’re staying is really important. I think in that regard, community can take so many forms. Reading could be one giant community but I sometimes see it as smaller communities within one big one. For example, some people are really into football so they join the football society but some people aren’t really into that and just like to hang out with their friends. Community is what it means to you.


“Having a mutual understanding, which is fostered through partnership from working together, can help build a community.” 6


RR: How do you think RUSU Reps help build a community? WILL: RUSU representation does a lot – we have academic representation which is where my community is and that led me more to look at the academic communities. We have a RUSU Diversity Officer, who looks out for students who come internationally for example, so we have a lot of different ways community is important and I think RUSU does a good job at recognising that community isn’t just as big as Reading University, but that there are individuals and everyone relates to the university in a different way. RR: How has being part of different communities at Uni and RUSU helped you personally? WILL: I think it’s made me open my mind a little bit more to other people. I wasn’t closed minded before, but I’ve definitely had so many more experiences and interactions with people and it’s made me sometimes think, ‘oh, I’ve not seen things from that perspective before’. I feel like personally I’ve become more wellrounded for having been exposed to different communities. But I also feel that being an active member of a community gives you a sense of satisfaction, so through my work as being a Course Rep and School Rep, I honestly think that everything that I’ve done, can be accredited to those first few steps. People think, ‘oh you’re just a Course Rep’ but it put me in contact with so many other people and you then just keep saying yes to opportunities and you meet someone else, and they introduce you to others, and then you build this network and find your place. RR: How can encouraging partnership between students and staff build a closer community? WILL: I think being part of an academic community within my school and taking part in the different activities they have to offer is really valuable. Even just having a conversation about research with a staff member, like I did, that really gives you insight into the staff community. In terms of partnership, I think working with staff allows you to relate a little more to them because I know, through being a Course Rep, students demand a lot from staff. Students are paying a lot to be at university, so it makes sense to ask for things to be done better but also understand that staff are not miracle workers, and they actually do care about students. Having a mutual understanding, which is fostered through partnership from working together, can help build a community. The best way to feel part of an academic community is to work in partnership with staff, just because that direct connection is really where you see the results as someone working on it. But even if you’re not involved in partnership, take part in the partnership by looking at the outcomes of it. Student partnerships are often focused on the curriculum, but I think they should also focus on other things, for example, social activities, to bring staff and students together. Or perhaps mental health and wellbeing could be a focus for both. I believe these things do create a more well-rounded community of understanding.

RR: Tell us a bit more about partnership involvement that you’ve had? WILL: There are two main partnership projects I worked on this year. The first was ‘Life Tools for Law Students’ which was a mixture of different things. It was an extension of the Life Tools programme run by the university, but I saw that there was a need for this sort of support for law students, as I’m sure there is a need in any department. So, I just asked ‘what can we do for our law students?’ and the school and Dr. Alicia Pena (who I worked with), was thrilled that I was asking, because she’d been intending to do something similar for quite a while. So when I came along, it was the perfect opportunity to see how this partnership could work. From working on that we’ve started a discussion around wellbeing – there was always a discussion about how the school could support students and there is definitely support for students through Carrington, the student support centre and RUSU Advice etc but having another framework that might be accessible to students as well is really important. We wanted to bring students together to reduce stigma in certain areas. The second one was Foxhill Arts, which was a really cool partnership. It was a staff initiated partnership that I got involved in and we ran a photo competition and the theme was ‘student life’. So students submitted photos of their lives around campus and we had such a variety of entries from first, second and third years, and postgraduate students all got involved. We had a voting system through the law society as well. Student life for me was represented by me and my friend Ed building a snowman. Community for others was an image of the law building because that symbolised where they study with their friends. Pictures of the sports field were displayed and the images said a lot about students. Sharing our personal experiences with other students encouraged more to follow in our footsteps and develop that sense of community a little further. RR: What about the rise of online communities? WILL: Online communities are a great stepping stone to build bigger communities. I think people can find a place in an online community that maybe they might not be able to in a physical community. But I still feel like a physical community (getting that personal face to face conversation) is key and there’s very little chance things will be misunderstood. I think that’s really important we keep gathering physically to create these aspects of community. RR: How can RUSU help build a more inclusive community on campus? WILL: I think RUSU are doing a fairly good job at building a community, I think they’ll always be people that disagree with what I just said because everyone’s different and they may think that ‘they are not doing enough for me’. But I’d say to them, first get involved with RUSU and see what they are doing, and if there isn’t something for you, just ask. They might say no, but that’s the worse that’s going to happen. They may say ‘sorry we can’t do it but we can look into it’, and best case scenario is, they say yes, we can do it and voila you’ve helped create effective change!

Meet the new Fab Five! As new and returning students descend onto campus, our five new Full-time Officers are ready and excited to welcome everyone back. With them all being keen to create an inclusive and welcoming environment this year, we went behind the scenes to find out more about them… INTERVIEWS : BETHANY BROWN

What are you most looking forward to in your role? I’m really looking forward to organising the first few cultural events in the first weeks of term. If you could only achieve one thing this year, what would it be? It would be to broaden the variety of food that is available for the diverse communities we have at the university. What’s your favourite community to be part of at Reading? Being part of the Bars team as it got me more involved in RUSU and was a fun way to earn money and make new friends.


What’s one thing no-one knows about you? One thing not many people know about me is that I’ve played volleyball with Justin Timberlake! What’s your guilty pleasure? Chocolate brownies with vanilla ice-cream.

What are you most looking forward to in your role? Being able to talk to so many new students and make them feel welcome and at home. If you could only achieve one thing this year, what would it be? It would be to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. What’s your favourite memory of Reading so far? My favourite memory of Reading is definitely my second year Summer Ball when Becky Hill played. What’s one thing no-one knows about you? I have a fear of woodlice! What’s has been your favourite community at Reading? Living in Wessex Hall as it’s where I made some of my closest friends.



What are you most looking forward to in your role? I spent so long coming up with manifesto ideas that would best benefit students, so I’m really looking forward to start making them a reality. If you could only achieve one thing this year, what would it be? To increase engagement with Student Voice so RUSU can represent the student body even better. What’s your favourite memory of Reading so far? It would have to be winning Varsity last year on home ground! I’ve played netball since first year and it’s become such an important part of my life, so to win was definitely a memory I will treasure. What’s one thing that surprise people about you? My middle name is Wednesday - my mum was clearly a big fan of The Addams Family!


What has been your favourite community at Reading? The RAG team as it was such a strong, reliable support network that grew beyond the committee into lasting friendships.

What are you most looking forward to in your role? I’m really excited to work with students across the university to make sure they are able to get the most out of their degree. If you could only achieve one thing this year, what would it be? I want to work to create the best possible solution for students with the library; making resources more accessible and ensuring they have all the space that they need to study. What’s your favourite memory of Reading so far? Winning our league and Varsity with the Women’s Rugby team in 2018. What has been your favourite community at Reading? Either Rugby as it made me who I am or School Reps as I wouldn’t have had the confidence to become Education Officer without it. What’s your guilty pleasure? Grape Fanta.


What are you most looking forward to in your role? Seeing my manifesto ideas come to life and really make a difference to people’s uni experience. If you could only achieve one thing this year, what would it be? The buddy scheme, where students can be paired up and try a new society. It’s the manifesto point I was most passionate about and have had the best feedback about, so I hope it will be really successful. What’s your favourite memory of Reading so far? The first game of the women’s cricket team which I started in my third year- we played Southampton Uni and won by a huge margin. What’s one thing that surprises people about you? Lots of people are surprised that I play cricket, but they shouldn’t be!


What’s your guilty pleasure? The TV shows- Love Island and RuPaul’s Drag Race.


Getting to know The Full-time Officers often get a lot of attention across campus but here at The Reading Rep we want to give some recognition to our Part-time Officers as well. Most of them are just starting their year in office so we’ve decided to introduce you to a few to find out what they can do for you next year… Name: Charlotte Hyde Role: Disabled Students’ PTO Why is it important to have a representative for the group you’re representing? Disabled students, no matter their disability, have issues getting full access to their education during their time at university. Selfadvocacy is tiring and constantly outlining your needs to every person you meet can be frustrating. DAS (Disability Advice Service) are brilliant but sometimes the support needed isn’t practical, but social. Having someone in place who understands what it’s like to not have access, has experience in getting it and understands that it is important to take it back to the ‘people’ and ask what is needed (rather than assuming) is critical. What is your main aim for the year? To listen, understand and consequently take action. Who would be your three ideal dinner party guests? Jane Austen, for her witticisms; Angela Carter, for her use of sumptuous language; and Tom Hiddleston, who can spend the night reciting Shakespeare. What movie title best represents your life? Scary Movie – I have too many phobias!


Name: Edda Pernice Role: LGBQ+ Students’ PTO Why is it important to have a representative for the group you’re representing? All PTO roles represent liberation groups found on campus and act as an ambassador for their needs. It’s very important to have an LGBQ+ representative because I have seen the needs from the LGBT community not be met whilst I’ve been at university. Having a representative within the Students’ Union, whom can hear the feedback from students and work with other Part-time and Full-time Officers, means more change can be achieved. What is your main aim for the year? To make the role of the LGBQ+ Part-time Officer, and other PTOs more well known within the university. It is easy to notice the existence of the Full-time Officers but I didn’t even know PTOs existed before I ran. It is important that more awareness is spread about the existence and usefulness of Part-time Officers especially as students should be able to come to me with queries or difficulties. It would also be really good to achieve at least one major, or lasting change on campus, collaborating with the FTOs as well.

Name: Wen Chen Role: BAME Students’ PTO

What would be your three ideal dinner party guests? Truthfully, I reckon it would be Audrey Hepburn, Truman Capote and Colson Baker aka Machine Gun Kelly. It’s definitely an odd trio, but Truman wrote my two favourite books and is an underrated LGBT icon, Audrey played Holly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, that Truman wrote, and is an amazing actress/humanitarian and MGK is quite a controversial character but someone I’ve looked up to since I was 14. Together they represent the three arts I love the most: cinema, writing and music, and honestly it would be a laugh!

What movie title best represents your life? It would probably be Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You. I came across it when I was younger and going through a tough period and it’s stuck with me ever since. I started using it as a mantra for when times get tough as a reminder that I am able to get through it and that, with time, the pain will transform into inspiration, drive and ambition. Now that my life is slowly shaping into what I always wanted it to be, I still live by those words and I am capable of transforming negative feelings into something useful for me.

Why is it important to have a representative for the group you’re representing? A good representative can collect feedback and understand the concerns of the BAME community. This is what I am trying to do in my role so that I can pass this on to RUSU in a powerful and effective way. What is your main aim for the year? To contribute to Black History Month, help Asian societies such as CSSA (Chinese Students & Scholars Association) become more involved and benefit more from the Union and finally to act in the best interest of all members of the BAME community. Who would be your three ideal dinner party guests? My boyfriend and my two good friends. They are the people who have helped me most! What movie title best represents your life? I haven’t found one yet so I’d probably just use my name as the title!

Making the Mature Voice Heard with Course Rep Maria Fontenelle Last year postgraduate students made up 38.7% of the UoR population and for them the most important time of the year is over the summer. During term time the library is open 24/7, yet when postgraduates begin to write up their dissertations in the summer months, the opening hours are cut down to five days a week. MA Typography and Graphic Communication Course Rep, Maria Fontenelle has been taking a stand and that’s why she’s the summer-time Rep of the month. “It has been really interesting to participate in department meetings as a Course Rep and discuss our opinions with staff, as it’s made my classmates and I feel like our voice really matters. An issue that was originally affecting one individual, now has a solution that benefits multiple students. For example getting a standing table bought in to workshops and opening up spaces in a masters workshop, so third years can experience them as tasters sessions. I also helped organise a Q&A session with current and prospective students at an Open Day which worked really well. Being a Course Rep allows you not only to express your ideas to help current and future students, but also fix existing issues which has been really exciting.

MARIA SAYS: “The issue with the library is that throughout the year, it is open 24 hours, but over the summer months its hours are restricted to MondayFriday, 9am-5pm. This affects postgraduate students directly, as we are here over those months exclusively to work on our dissertations. It means that we lose two entire days of library access (access to printed materials, scanning, printing and more) and potentially two days' work on our dissertations, every week. My classmates agree that this is unacceptable, as we are paying tuition for a full year and you would expect all of the university's services to be available to us during that time. “This problem came up in a department meeting and I have been discussing it with the RUSU Education Officer, highlighting the views of my class and pushing for improvements. Changes are difficult due to the ongoing renovations, so the latest news is that nothing can be put in place for this year, but hopefully it will be passed on to next year's team even an extra day would help!

Postgraduate Reps only have a year to do something that can make a difference but the smaller differences are still just as important.”

Postgraduate Reps only have a year to learn about course and department issues and do something that can make a difference. This means that if you act fast, you can resolve smaller issues. Larger problems outside of your course or department, like the library opening hours, may not see change in your year, but you can still make a difference for future students and that’s still just as important.”



“Have you got a bright idea that needs funding? FundSpace is the university's crowdfunding platform designed to give students and staff more opportunities to explore their passions or projects. The university will also match your fundraising up to £750, which makes using FundSpace a no brainer! For more information email:”


Announcements School Rep Training Autumn 2019 All new School Reps – please save the dates for Essential School Rep Training  Wednesday 2nd Oct 2019 – 1-3pm  Friday 4th Oct 2019 – 10am-12pm Please indicate on the doodle poll here which training session dates you could make or would prefer and we will run two sessions out of the three, so ideally all of you can make it to one of the sessions. The School Rep training is compulsory, so do get in touch if you really can’t do any of those dates!

Course Rep Elections! Look out for Undergraduate Course Rep Elections and Postgraduate Course & School Rep elections which open on 20th Sept and close 14th 2019 – head to to nominate to be a Course Rep, School Rep, Student Voice Member or Part-Time Officer opportunities available!

Welcome Week – Give it a Go! Fairs: Come along and meet your new School Reps and Full-time Officer team Tuesday 24th – Thursday 26th Sept 2019


Course Rep training this year will take place over two weeks with multiple dates for you to choose from! As soon as you are elected – select a date below you can make the essential course rep training on the doodle polls: Postgraduate Course Reps: Undergraduate Course Reps: Chair training: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Course Rep (CR) Training Essential CR induction (PG ONLY) Essential CR induction (PG ONLY) Essential CR induction (PG & RETURNING REPS) Essential CR induction Essential CR induction (ALL) Essential CR induction Essential CR induction Essential CR induction Chair training (ALL) Chair training (ALL)


Capacity 50

Date Tues 29th Oct

Time 1-3pm

25 50

Weds 30th Oct Thurs 31st Oct

1:30-3:30pm 5:30-7:30pm


50 50 50 50 50 50 50

Fri 1st Nov Sat 2nd Nov Mon 4th Nov Tues 5th Nov Weds 6th Nov Thurs 7th Nov Fri 8th Nov

1-3pm 1-3pm 5:30-7:30pm 1:30-3:30pm 1:30-3:30pm 4-6pm 2-4pm

Jisc are recruiting student partners At Jisc we would like to know what is important to you regarding the use of technology in education and research. We want to hear first-hand what digital skills you need for your future, how you want to learn and much more. Your voice will feed into our business strategy and help us to make sure that our future work provides technology-enhanced learning for the next generation of students. Being a student partner will require up to five days of your time over the academic year. What’s in it for me? If you are interested and would like to know more contact and Caitlin Bloom will answer your questions. We are looking for 10 students from HE and 5 PhD candidates. Applications will close on the 20 September 2019 and a shortlist of applicants will be invited to phone interviews which will take place soon after. You need to be a current student from September 2019-June 2020 and be over 18 on 1 September 2019.

Apply now here!

“Stay away from negative people they have a problem to every solution” ~ Albert Einstein

Take part in our back page quiz and get a free Starbucks and Academic Rep water bottle!

Sharing a coffee with…

Sara Mattar Quickfire Q’s Comedy or horror? Horror Text or call? Call Pasta or pizza? Pasta Instagram or Twitter? Instagram Early bird or night owl? Night owl Apple or android? Apple Night in or night out? Both Truth or dare? Truth Cats or dogs? Dogs (man’s best friend) Book or movie? Both Exam or Coursework? Coursework Mojos or Mondial? Mojos

You’ve held many roles at RUSU, how will being International Students’ Part-time Officer help you in the future? It will help me gain more experience by listening to every International student and trying to solve as many things as I can. What is your top tip for Freshers? Live your life as if you’re always a Fresher as you only live this life once! Join a society and learn something new whether it is a language, hobby, or something completely different! What are you most looking forward to this term? I am looking forward to meeting new people from different nationalities and being there for each and every one even if it is a five minute conversation over a cup of coffee. Currently, what is at the top of your bucket list? Skydiving! Which is your proudest moment at Reading? Winning the student MasterChef competition in first year and playing the piano at a wedding. What have you gained from being part of the RUSU community? Definitely confidence and getting to know people that I never imagined would be part of my life. What place means the most to you? Egypt because it is my home country and is the place my family and childhood friends are. Also the weather, food and sea!

PSST… #Breakthesilence is something I’m planning at the moment with more info coming soon! You can also join me at the International Students Network on Wed 25th Sept. at 3pm in the RUSU Boardroom.