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Student Spotlight Stories

In celebration of Black History Month: Why We Must Remember 1


In this Issue‌ November 2019


StudentLife Life Student 04

Student Spotlight Stories This month is Black History Month so our new Inclusivity Coordinator Kyle chats to BAME Officer Wen, about both the past and her plans for this year on p6.



SPEIR School Rep Nicolas has made much progress in his role over the years. Find out why he is Rep of the Month this issue on p12.

Democracy Rules With Student Voice coming up, we explain what democracy is here at RUSU, why student voice is so important and how you can get involved on p8.

Want to see what other Reps have done this month? Check out our top quotes on p4.

08 Regulars 05

This month we talk Bake Off, Halloween and sustainable fashion in The View on p5‌

Top tips on rocking first year! Your Autumn term survival guide We give you the inside scoop on Freshers as well as our top tips for getting the most of your uni year on p11.


Get to know the new School Rep for Literature and Languages Kia, 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… “An achievement I am particularly pleased with is implementing discussion boards with course lecturers on Blackboard. The public forums meant all students on the course were able to benefit from the lecturers' answers, even during holidays, and lecturers were saved from having to answer the same questions several times in emails. Throughout the year, I have felt myself developing both personally and professionally. From participating in, and chairing meetings, to communicating with fellow students in a reasoned and polite manner when asking for feedback, my role of Academic Rep has allowed me to grow as a person and provide many skills which will enhance my CV. I have learnt how to develop a reasoned argument for something we as students feel needs changing and to deliver it in a sympathetic way, as well as being reasonable and empathetic in considering others' points of view.” Anonymous response from the 2019 Annual Impact Survey

Pick up a prize next month…

Be our star letter in our next issue & pick up one of our exclusive REPtalks notepad and pen, complete with an inspirational quote!

“Talking about my experience as a Course Rep last year helped me secure my current placement.”

“Meeting new people has allowed me to increase my self-awareness, be satisfied with my achievements and manage my time between work and study. This will undoubtedly impact me in dealing with different situations in the future.”


RUSU’s Community Bake-Off! Bake Off fever has officially hit RUSU and with our Great RUSU Bake Off well under-way, we haven’t been short of inspiring recipes this month. From Guinness cake to beetroot brownies, staff have been busy getting creative and the scores are close! One of the high scorers so far has been Societies and Media Coordinator Dan’s Coffee and Cherry brownies, try making your own with his recipe here.




Our fave photo from Welcome Week was taken by @uniofreading

RUSU RATES… The Great British Bake Off, Series 10, Channel 4 We have loved watching the triumphs and utter disasters of this year’s Bake Off and will be tuning in to see who is crowned the winner. Who do you think will be the final Star Baker?

Follow us @rusuphotos

Positive affirmation of the issue:

“Courage is what it takes to stand up

and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” -Winston Churchill


Blackwells’ Lilia Loves… Circe, Madeline Miller, £12.99, Bloomsbury

A fascinating retelling of a classic tale of family rivalry, love and loss, giving a voice and story to a frequentlyoverlooked character.

Did you know?


is what Brits spent on Halloween last year. From decorations to endless amounts of sweets, the holiday has become undoubtedly commercialised but actually celebrates the Wiccan New Year- who knew?!

the view

Upgrade your wardrobe for less! Fast fashion has taken over the fashion industry but more people are now making environmentally conscious decisions. Maybe check out local charity shops, clothes swaps or our own Vintage fairs before heading to ASOS for your next shopping spree?

Martin Luther King Jr became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (at the time) in 1964 - the same year the Civil Rights Act was passed. He is the only non-president to have a holiday in his name, celebrated on January 20th

Why We Must Remember! Student Spotlight Stories

“The BAME community has been fighting for equality for a long time - we should thank people from history and honour their memory.” INTERVIEW : KYLE SMITH

For communities across the country, Black History Month marks a poignant time for remembering, for celebrating diversity, and for challenging injustice and inequality. The BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) community has faced systemic oppression throughout history, which has resulted in passionate individuals forming groups that champion change. One such individual, RUSU’s BAME Part-time Officer Wen Chen, caught up with The Reading Rep to discuss the importance of Black 6 History Month, connecting cultures, and giving a voice to under-represented students on campus…


Wen was elected to represent BAME students during RUSU’s Main Elections in 2019. In her third year of a degree in Finance and Investment Banking, she tells us how important it is for students of all cultures to get involved with their Union. “Self-defining as an Asian student, I understand some of the difficulties BAME students may face at university, and appreciate sometimes it can be difficult to relate to one another,” says Wen. “As RUSU’s BAME Officer, I want to help people from different backgrounds to connect, in order to network and solve problems together. RUSU is a warm and welcoming place that is accommodating for all cultures.” “I believe that by working together we can help to make campus a friendlier place, and promote equality.” Connecting students of different cultures and backgrounds is a priority for Wen, alongside providing a voice for BAME students across campus. Student networks, which take place throughout the year and are hosted by RUSU Part-time Officers, allow for students to build rapport and provide a platform to share their views and experiences. Keep an eye on the RUSU website for details of the next BAME Students Network. Wen believes inclusivity should be at the forefront of RUSU’s agenda, and is passionate about her students’ union catering for the diverse range of cultures found on campus – something the RUSU Diversity Officer, Zeid Sharif, completely agrees with. Keep an eye out for more international food options on the Mojo’s menu, in line with the campaign championed by Zeid. Plus, by remembering figures from the past, Black History Month provides us with a prime opportunity to promote causes that matter to the BAME community, whilst also celebrating the achievements of our students. RUSU is committed to hosting events that celebrate the BAME community throughout October and the rest of the year. Keep up to date with all we have planned on the RUSU website!

The year is 1855. Mary Seacole establishes ‘The British Hotel’ in Crimea after her help is turned down by Florence Nightingale’s nursing team. Caring for sick and wounded officers at her own expense, often on the battlefield, she becomes affectionately known as ‘Mother Seacole’.

The year is 1936. American athlete Jesse Owens disproves Hitler’s Aryan supremacy myth by winning four gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany.

The year is 1955. Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat for a white person, which later results in her arrest. Her defiance in the face of oppression leads to the Montgomery bus boycott, and brings attention to the social injustices felt by BAME citizens on public transport every day.

The year is 1963. Martin Luther King JR delivers his vision for African-Americans of the future in his passionate 17-minute long speech, now referred to as ‘I Have a Dream’. To this day, the speech is widely regarded as one of the finest in history, and regularly quoted.

The year is 1993. Author Toni Morrison becomes the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, celebrating her multiple critically acclaimed novels and works.

The year is 1994. Nelson Mandela becomes president of South Africa after spending 27 years in prison; he acts as a figurehead in the anti-Apartheid movement, fighting racial inequality.

The year is 2016. NFL star Colin Kaepernick sits during the U.S National Anthem, protesting police brutality and racial injustice within the United States. This leads to a new movement amongst BAME athletes, highlighting the issues people of colour still face within society.

Present day. Bernardine Evaristo becomes the first black woman, and first black British author to win the Booker Prize for fiction.Throughout history, members of the BAME community have united in calling out oppression and injustice. For this reason, “it is vital we celebrate Black History Month”, says RUSU BAME Parttime Officer Wen Chen.

To get involved with RUSU’s Black History events, get in touch with Wen via her email,, or get in touch with Zeid via his email or his Facebook page at

‘What is really needed to make democracy function is not knowledge of facts, but right education’ - Gandhi It’s not a groundbreaking statement to say that politics in Britain can sometimes seem a bit divisive or chaotic – or just plain confusing! Dynamism and passion go hand in hand with making meaningful change in the world around us. This can lead to clashes of ideas, priorities, or people. There’s also many different ideas and types of ‘democracy’, and when we argue about what’s in the interest of ‘good democracy’ we often mean really different things. So let’s make it a bit simpler – what does democracy mean at RUSU? Just like at the national level, democracy at RUSU can be seen in two different ways – democracy the idea, and democracy the process. Good change starts with good ideas, so let’s start there…

RUSU Democracy: The idea

WORDS: RUSU Democracy and Policy Coordinator, Tirion

As students, we’re learning new things all the time. Learning involves asking and answering hard questions, figuring out what we think about those questions and using that to make sense of the world around us. The same is true when it comes to democracy. We see the world around us, we’re involved with it, we learn about it and ask questions about it. This is then a great foundation for shaping how that world looks. If something works well, we can shout about it, take pride in it, and make sure it’s supported. If something isn’t working well, and there’s a way we want it to look differently, we can make that change.

RUSU already works to make sure that all the best bits of being a student are well supported. Your Student Officers also work hard to make changes that they think could be of benefit to students (they’re like the student equivalent of MP’s!), doing their best to represent you well. As a member of the Students’ Union, it’s also really important that you know how you can lead change directly yourself. This could be through telling others your ideas, making a change yourself, voting for what you want to happen, or through campaigning other people to make changes. A Students’ Union helps with all these things because, as a Union, we can join together to have a louder voice as for what students want or need.


RUSU Democracy: The process At RUSU, we have some pathways that can help you to shape the world around you to look how you want it to look. Briefly, these are: At Student Voice, our termly democratic forum, students debate ideas from Change It! and quiz the Officers about what they’re up to. Anyone can come – and it’s a great way to find out what’s happening!

Change It! is our online platform for students to direct RUSU’s work. Ideas that pass through Change It! get taken on as priorities for RUSU to work on. ( Stand in an election to be the voice of students (paid and voluntary roles available throughout the year!). If a role’s not for you, voting’s really important to choose who should represent you – and you can always get in touch with our elected Full- or Part-time Officers! Send your ideas (through ‘motions’) or yourself (as an ‘NUS delegate’) to shape the direction of national level action for students.

Meeting other people is important. By going to networks and student activity groups, you can meet students with similar interests or experiences to you and support each other. Your Course Reps and School Reps are there to raise your concerns and views in your department, and to make your academic experience as great as possible. ( RUSU Democracy: Your wins Plastic straws In 2017, national awareness of the issues caused by the use of single use plastics took off. Your Environmental and Ethics Part-time Officer at the time, Kyle Smith, submitted an idea to Change It! for RUSU to charge for plastic straws sold in RUSU outlets. His idea won at All Student Vote, with 491 votes. Since then, RUSU have sold an average of 100 straws a week – that’s 100 straws between 5,000 students! Kyle was so committed to RUSU, that he now works here as the Inclusivity Coordinator, helping PTOs with their projects.

Refugee Scholarships Also in 2017, an idea was submitted through ChangeIt! for UoR to secure funding for 10 ‘refugee scholarships’. Diversity Officer at the time, Leen Alnajjab, worked with the University on this, and in 2018 the University launched a scheme for up to 14 scholarships to be available! This is a great example of how Change It! and your Student Officers can effect real world change.


What will you do? All across the world, students have a strong legacy of leading the politics of their country. With student climate strikes driving political conversations globally, now’s the perfect time to figure out what you care about, and what you want to do about it. If there’s something you care about, but don’t know enough to have an idea of what should be done, a good first step is by trying to learn more about the issues. But don’t be scared to get stuck in and give it a go anyway! If you’ve got good intentions, there’ll always be people and ideas to help guide you.

A good place to start is at RUSU. ‘Democracy’ literally translates as ‘voice of the people’ – and that’s what RUSU can be as a Union of Students. The important thing is that it’s your Students’ Union, and needs your voice! So get involved, with a society or network, by voting, by submitting ideas through Change It!, coming to Student Voice, or even by being a Rep – and help to build the community, the student voice, and the world around you.So what is Democracy at RUSU? It’s whatever you want it to be! Just tell us at 

AUTUMN ELECTION RESULTS ARE IN! After numerous lecture shout outs and lots of free hot chocolate giveaways, RUSU are pleased to announce that we’ve had another engaged Autumn election with 1056 Undergraduate students voting this year. We’ve included some of the winners below but for a full results list for Student Reps head to the RUSU website.

Undergraduate Student Voice Members Praise Chuks-Ezike Grace Diddams Charlie Cooke Jess Wilson Postgraduate Student Voice Members Jessica Ardley Caroline Bourne Animah Zahir Matthew Sadler Amy Pigott Gameli Akplagah Ryan Louie Madrid Farhaan Muttur Will Gibb Bandar Sultan A Alakshan

Postgraduate School Reps Agriculture, Policy & Development - Samuel Wairimu SAGES - Alexander Rose Arts & Communication Design - Simon Thiefes Biological Sciences – Zoe Richards Built Environment - Ramadan Al-shiek Khalil Chemistry, Food & Pharmacy - Gayatri Uma Maheswari Alla Henley Business School - Yongxing Shuai, Jessica N Wagoner, Arjana Cupi Humanities - Austin Perrotti Institute of Education - Céleste Robillard Law - Bandar Sultan A Alakshan Literature & Languages - Oriela De Rossi Maths, Physical & Computational Sciences - Priyesh Patel Politics, Economics & International Relations - Arham Nahar Psychology & Clinical Language Science - Martin Velichkov Postgraduate Taught Part-time Officer – Oriela De Rossi Mature Students’ Part-time Officer – Kathryn Bedford

Autumn term survival guide!

The University of Reading has been my ‘home away from home’ for the past three years and now I am lucky enough to work as the new Rep Employability Coordinator at RUSU! I now work with RUSU Reps to help improve their student experience but my journey to this point started in my first term at Reading! WORDS: GEORGINA SHAW

Through my time as a student I’ve been a part of open days, visit days, masterclasses, lectures, seminars, societies and the Students’ Union. There are so many opportunities available, both curricular and extra! Here are my top tips and advice to get you off to the best start possible…

Just start with “hello”

This sounds like the simplest thing, but it will get you so far (even further if you smile at the same time!). I arrived in Reading as an insurance choice student, and nobody else from my school was coming with me; I was completely alone and friendless. As I arrived, I noticed that the group of people I was approaching looked just as scared and nervous as I was. EVERYONE IS! So to put on a brave face, march up to strangers, be honest and say “Hello, I know absolutely no one here”, was amazing! I received an almost identical response from everyone around me and before I knew it, I had friends for life.





Visit ‘Bagelman’

As a student, and now an employee, I still swear that all problems, no matter what, can be solved by a Cerealworks Bagel. Our famous Reading University Bagelman is a connoisseur of the bagel and will LITERALLY make you anything you want… in a bagel. Cheese and toasted? Sorted. Vegan or veggie? Not a problem. Just fancy a chat about your day? He’s your man. But aside from his amazing food, he has come to learn my order over the past three years, and for that, I am grateful. I wonder if he’ll remember now I’m back…

Even though emails come through telling you that career support, study advice, housing services or even academic tutors are there to help you, I know a lot of people can ignore them, but try not to! Throughout A-Level, I dreaded having meetings about anything, but at university, they are completely different and very much worth it. It is no longer teachers telling you what you can or can’t do, or getting frustrated because you haven’t completed something in time. At university, they are actually one of you. Everyone has deadlines, everyone is busy, and that is OKAY. Whatever you need, they are there to help you. Whenever. So if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask.




Ask for help if you need it

Always be yourself


Yes, this one is cheesy - but only because it’s true. Whether you party five nights a week, or stay in with Netflix, or play Korfball on a Friday, or must order Domino’s on a Wednesday – these aspects are what make you, YOU. Of course, your tastes and interests can change, so do friends and hobbies. So nothing that you do ever has to be set in stone. Lots of sports clubs and societies have taster sessions, to see if you like it and want to commit. Others have started a ‘social membership’ so you don’t have to fully commit as much as a full time member. Whatever brings you joy, just do it – you’ll regret it otherwise.


Put yourself out there


The final piece of advice that I can give is to get involved and help anyone, anyway, you can. The lost stranger, the struggling friend, the lonely first year. Because, I was once all three of those, and at some point you will meet all three of those, and they are just like you. Find out who your Course Reps and School Reps are and let them know if you have any feedback, or if you have a campus-wide thought, let it be known through the RUSU Change It! platform and have your RUSU Officers discuss it at Student Voice! The more involved you are, the more change you are able to make and the more help you can offer, to others, as well as yourself. Good luck!

Opening doors to opportunities: how SPEIR School Rep Nicolas Dimitriou stepped up for students year after year From taking the plunge to become a Rep in his first year, three years on Nicolas Dimitriou reflects on why he nominated himself in the first place and what representation can do for you… RR: What are your plans as School Rep this year? NICOLAS SAYS: My number one point on my manifesto, was working to improve lecture capture at Reading. I started in my first year working on this and wanted to see it through for existing students. I would also really like to organise an event for the department for example an Economic Forum, to help make the school more active and valuable. RR: You are currently sitting on a University Steering group – how has that experience been?

RR: Why did you want to be School Rep and what was it like being a Course Rep last year? NICOLAS SAYS: I was elected as a Course Rep in my first year and then ran to be a NUS (National Union of Students) Delegate, where I had the chance to go to Glasgow for a week and found representing over 17,000 Reading students really interesting. I then became really passionate about representation! I went into my second year and ran to be Course Rep again and President for the Economics Society and I really enjoyed engaging students. Going into third year, I thought I’d have the experience to run to be School Rep. I thought I could bring all my knowledge together and all that I’ve learnt being a Rep throughout these three years, to help other students and Reps in their department and within RUSU as well. RR: What is it that makes you want to do this volunteer role? NICOLAS SAYS: I study politics so I like public speaking and talking with people is something that I’m passionate about, but also inherently, I like to help people too. Through this role, I can help students with any problems or issues, I like to be that person of contact so I can point them in the right direction with my experience. It’s something I love to do.

NICOLAS SAYS: I was able to apply to sit on the steering group through my role as a School Rep, so I would definitely say that being a Rep gives you more opportunities like this and more roles that you can get involved with (including paid ones), which you can get great experiences from too. From sitting on an Implementation Steering Group with the RUSU Education Officer, I have met so many staff and academics, so it’s been a really useful experience for employability, my CV and for future jobs. Overall, I can’t recommend being a Rep enough, it’s been a wonderful experience and I want to thank RUSU and the university for making me aware of all the further opportunities you can get involved with – it’s made me love this role even more throughout the years!

Look out for optional Periodic Review Training for Reps at 13pm in the RUSU Boardroom on Wednesday 27th or Friday 29th November to benefit from further opportunities! Sign up here: xy8iyspn 12


Reps! ROSiE is here! ROSiE stands for Rep Online Student Impact Evaluation tool and is here to help you gather student feedback this year– head to

Course Rep training this year will take place over two weeks with multiple dates for you to choose from! As

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

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: Course Rep (CR) Training Location Capacity Date Time Essential CR induction (PG ONLY) RUSU TWAB 1 25 Weds 30th Oct 1:30-3:30pm Essential CR induction (PG & RUSU TWAB 1&2 50 Thurs 31st Oct 5:30-7:30pm RETURNING REPS) Essential CR induction RUSU TWAB 1&2 50 Fri 1st Nov 1-3pm Essential CR induction (ALL) RUSU TWAB 1&2 50 Sat 2nd Nov 1-3pm Essential CR induction RUSU TWAB 1&2 50 Mon 4th Nov 5:30-7:30pm Essential CR induction RUSU TWAB 1&2 50 Tues 5th Nov 1:30-3:30pm Essential CR induction RUSU TWAB 1&2 50 Weds 6th Nov 1:30-3:30pm Chair training (ALL) RUSU TWAB 1&2 50 Thurs 7th Nov 4-6pm Chair training (ALL) Palmer 103 50 Fri 8th Nov 2-4pm


“Adults are just kids grown up anyway” ~ Walt Disney

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

Sharing a coffee with…

Kia Mackenzie Quickfire Q’s Comedy or horror? Comedy Text or call? Call Pasta or pizza? Pasta Instagram or Twitter? Neither- Facebook! Early bird or night owl? Night owl Apple or android? Android Night in or night out? Night in Truth or dare? Dare Cats or dogs? Dogs Book or movie? Books Exam or Coursework? Coursework Mojos or Mondial? Mondial

IF YOU COULD MAKE A LAW WHAT WOULD IT BE? Buying coffee from a shop should be free before 9am. ONE THING YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT? Google! WHAT SKILL WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO MASTER? Being able to speak multiple languages without mixing them all up! MY FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE ME AS… A bit too chatty. WHO ARE YOUR IDEAL DINNER PARTY GUESTS? David Attenborough, Brian Blessed and Elvis Presley! ONE THING NO-ONE KNOWS ABOUT YOU? I don’t really like The Lion King… LAST THING YOU BOUGHT? Cake - for the Bake Off! WHAT SONG IS GUARANTEED TO GET YOU ON THE DANCEFLOOR? Mr Brightside - The Killers.

PSST… With funding from the Alumni Supporter Awards, I’m planning a Lit and Lang Employment Show keep your eyes peeled for more info coming soon! Save the date Wednesday 5 th February!