Issue 34 JULY/AUGUST ISSUE ENVIRONMENT THEME
Meet RUSU’s Environment and Ethics Part-time Officer, Martin, who is making his mark already with sustainability. Find out more on p8
QUIZZING THE NEW QUINTET Meet your new RUSU Full-time Officer team 20/21 on p7
Student Spotlight Stories
Environment and Ethics: “To Turn The Tide, We Need To Be Radical” 1
In this Issue… Summer 2020
Features Student Spotlight Stories E&E Part-time Officer Martin shares his thoughts on what it means to be ‘radical’ and why Covid-19 could be the catalyst we need to move away from consumerism and towards a more sustainable future!
StudentLife Life Student 04
Here’s what some of you had to say in the Annual Representation Impact Survey 2020.
Quizzing the New Quintet With their handover complete, your new FTO team are getting to grips with their new roles and how they can best represent you. They interviewed each other and found out all you need to know.
SLL Senior Rep Alannah Moody has already achieved loads of her great ideas since starting her role, hear what she has planned for the rest of the year.
This week we give our view on everything from education to plastic water bottles.
A Few Bright Ideas Our Advisers give you all the hints and tips to help you cut your housing bills in half (and not just using scissors) and rack up the savings you’d much rather be spending elsewhere.
This month Ruth takes on the back page quiz and talks taking inspiration from yourself and her own goals as BAME PTO and Humanities School Rep this year!
Loads of you completed our Impact Survey, and four reps were randomly selected in our prize draw to win four months of NowTV vouchers. Thank you to all of you that gave your feedback and congratulations!
“I am really glad that I was a Rep this year and that I was part of something bigger. I am even happier that I will still be a part of RUSU next year and get to witness even more positive changes.”
‘When I did this draw I didn’t think I’d win it but thought I’d submit anyway and now here I am! Really enjoyed being a Rep this year and hearing about different views people have had, the other Reps were really nice and we worked well as a team. Thanks everyone!’
“I deem being a school representative (now known as Senior Reps) and a Course Rep at the same time, enhanced my experience at UoR & Henley Business School. I got to know amazing people with different cultural and academic background and I got to learn more thoroughly on how my masters program is composed and how to address issues. Top Tip especially addressed to prospective masters student (full-time) whose experience is 1 year only: Be proactive as much as you can during your year at UoR. Engage in these great opportunities to extend you network which is a lifetime gem in your life and career.”
Your Say Check out what students are saying about their Reps and staff. Plus, share your stories with us by getting in touch…
"Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many questions from panicked students were filling the group chat. I collected everyone concerns are queries and documented them all in a 3,000 word email to staff, which was then later addressed in a feedback form as an alternative to the SSLC (which was cancelled due to COVID). Throughout lockdown I have helped many students with individual queries in regards to mental health and applying for CIPs due to the current online learning situation. I have felt honoured that students trust me enough to divulge information about their personal life to ask for advice, as I believe this has helped me break down a large trust barrier and I am a thrilled to be someone that students feel they can rely on." Submission from the 2020 Impact Survey
Pick up a prize next month…
Be our star letter in our next issue & pick up one of our exclusive personalised notepads, complete with an inspirational quote!
YOUR REP ACHIEVEMENTS! “I am proud of being called a "good course representative" by other students which shows my hard work is paying off.” “I was able to help my fellow first years on my course know that they have a voice which we as course reps make sure the department know and follow up on.”
Happy Pride! With LGBTQ+ communities more isolated than ever during lockdown, countries all over the world held events online to celebrate Pride globally. One of which was the Pride in London campaign ‘You!Me!Us!We!’, who pledged to reach 30,000 acts of allyship (to represent the number of people that would have attended the march). It’s not too late to pledge your allyship at https://prideinlondon.org/
the view RUSU RATES…
Photo of the month!
The Hate U Give, Amazon
Last month saw the end of Relax with RUSU, our 40-day calendar designed to help students relax during the exam season. It included everything from yoga to podcasts to comedy recommendations, check out our insta for more.
After witnessing the police shoot and murder her best friend, Starr Carter takes a stand for what is right. This film harrowingly depicts the struggles faced by the black community and is a must watch for everyone.
Follow us @rusuphotos
Educated, Tara Westover, £9.99, Random House
Positive affirmation of the issue:
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept, and celebrate those differences." – Audre Lorde
Sparking joy daily
were saved from going to landfill over the past year just from members of staff at the uni and RUSU avoiding single use plastic water bottles! Staff have been tracking their green habits across the year and just by using reusable bottles over 1000kg of waste has been avoided.
We’ve set up a RUSU book club! We’ve just finished Educated and were overwhelmed with the power of the memories Tara recounts in this memoir and how she managed to carve out the life she wished for.
Educate yourself on all things green! There are loads of ways for you to brush up on your sustainability knowledge this summer, from podcasts and online courses to a wealth of films, TV series and books. You could choose to just learn about the environment but why stop there? Why not teach yourself how to upcycle an unwanted product or two, or learn how best to start your own veggie patch, the possibilities are endless!
Finding it hard to stay motivated over the summer? There are thousands of small changes you can make to bring an extra spark of happiness into your life. Why not try doing just one a day for the next week. We’re excited to learn a new culinary skill, discover wildlife and think positive; but before all those our first mission is starting today as we mean to go on!
Celebrating our wins here at RUSU this month!
Humanities Senior Rep Leah creates a new exam structure for online exams in her department! Leah worked with staff in her department to design a brand new exam format to accommodate for all students with differing circumstances during lockdown. Rather than 24 hours exams, students studying Classics had seven days to complete the open book exams, meaning they could fit assessments around working and caring responsibilities. The questions were tailored to suit the new format and although overall marks were higher, the pattern of student achievement was the same as previous years. Both students and staff were pleased with the changes and Leah loved being able to make a different to the department with an idea that benefitted students and staff alike. This level of engagement from Leah means we are all very excited to see what she achieves in the role over the next year. Keep up the amazing work Leah!
Gemma’s Mental Health research findings shared! Earlier on in the year, previous Welfare Officer Gemma carried out research on Reading students' experience of mental health. The purpose was to show the university how important it is that there are increased provisions for support on campus. Gemma recently sent her findings to key members of staff who recognised it's value. They also suggested that it is shared with a group of key decision makers... watch this space!
Emma-Louise leaves Art & Film legacy for students to come! Emma-Louise had a very busy summer term as SACD School Rep. As well as sitting on a ‘Virtual Squad’ discussing the best ways for the school to tackle assessments, practicals and performances next term, she has started a ‘Pause or Pay’ campaign allowing art students to either get the money they have spent on their end of year performance back, or delay their performance to later in the year. Great job Emma!
COMPILED BY : ABIEE HARRIS
The New Fab Five Are Here! As we welcome the 2020-21 Full-time Officers to the RUSU team, we get to know them each a little better... Hello! I’m Rachel and I’m excited to work to represent you all! Being a bisexual, Anglo-Indian female, for me, diversity plays a big part in my life. I believe everyone should have a voice, and I want to help those voices be heard. Please say hi to me if I’m walking around campus (you may even see me in town chatting to the local community about animal rights and handing out vegan food samples – yum!).
RACHEL WATES, DIVERSITY OFFICER
Three interesting facts about me: 1) I love a good plant-based meal and I can whip up a pretty good lasagne. 2) My favourite past time is doing yogalates (I was social secretary of the Yogalates society last year!) - I spent my last summer teaching yoga to children with learning disabilities in Bali, Indonesia. It was an amazing experience. 3) I’m a big sucker for Pixar movies (but let's not talk about the Cars franchise).
Hi, my name is Bandy. I am a London girl through and through but my parents are originally from Nepal. I would definitely say I am a proud British Nepalese. Being able to accept both parts of my identity has been a challenge, but, I love what both cultures have taught me. I am excited for the year ahead and think if I make the experience easier, in any way, for students then I’ll be proud that I have done my job. My favourite… Film – Some Like It Hot Food – Crisps will always be my weakness Book – Catcher in the Rye (but I love reading!) Pastime – Animal Crossing Exercise – Walking, running & yoga
Did you know? My full name is Bandana and it actually means ‘to pray’ in the Hindi language
BANDY KARKI, WELFARE OFFICER10
I am looking forward to getting stuck into the role this year and working with the RUSU team!” Rachel Osborne
I’m Rachel. Animals and nature have always played an important part in my life as I spent most of my childhood mucking around on farms. It is part of the reason I was drawn to Reading as the green open campus reminded me of home. I like to work hard and play hard and I love trying new things. I’ll give anything a good go as the phrase ‘don’t knock it till you try it’ is one that I live by.
RACHEL OSBORNE, PRESIDENT
My claim to fame… During my final year of university, I set up and was president of the Zero Waste Society. Our zero waste Christmas formal was filmed by the BBC which meant that I had to squeeze half my society and a camera crew into my tiny university house!
Hi! I’m George. I was born in London and I’m obsessed with iced coffee and high energy most hours of the day. One of the very valuable things I’ve learnt so far, to put it simply, is listening. Talking to so many students really showed me you can never fully comprehend the issues being faced by anyone else unless you’re also affected. I’ve come to understand it’s incredibly important to know who you’re representing and why. In my free time… I enjoy socialising with my friends – an evening in the pub with those you care about is an experience to be remembered and also to be thankful for. I also love amateur theatre and listening to music. I’ve listened to three songs by The Chainsmokers over 600 times.
GEORGE INGRAM, EDUCATION OFFICER
Hi, I’m Alex Rose. I have been in every required committee position in a Reading Society other than Treasurer as well as a Course Rep, School Rep and member of Student Voice – I’m collecting them all! Basically, I know a thing or two about student activities!
ALEX ROSE, ACTIVITIES OFFICER
Stay at home or go on an adventure? I’m pretty well-travelled, I’ve been really lucky. I have been to Crete, Iceland, multiple states in North America (Florida, California, Nevada etc.), Portugal, Tenerife, Italy, and other locations globally and hope to visit more. I love seeing new places. I collect a snow globe in every new location or big trip that I visit and add it to my collection. But I do love to spend a bit of time at home. My favourite pastime is either reading, socialising with my friends, D and D or playing chess.
Lets’s Get Some Life Admin Done! The seven steps you need to make sure you don’t get swindled by those pesky utilities bills. WORDS: JANE TAYLOR, RUSU HOUSING ADVISER, BARBARA HELD, RUSU MONEY ADVISER
When you first move into
your new student house, your gas and electricity will already be provided by a supplier. It is often advantageous to search the market for a different supplier when you move in, as comparing and switching can save consumers an average of £300 per year. You can compare suppliers in your area with the Citizens Advice tool: energycompare.citizensadvice. org.uk/
Some landlords handle the
water bill for the students and bundle the cost in with the rent, but you should always double check this rather than assuming. Water providers typically bill a standard tariff either monthly or annually. Unlike other utilities, you do not have a choice of supply as Thames Water is the only provider for the Reading area. Find out more here: thameswater.co.uk/
Gas and electricity will probably be your most expensive utility. From the start of your tenancy (not the date you move in!), you will be responsible for paying the energy bill to the existing provider. Your provider will use meter readings to ascertain how much energy you are using and charge you based on this. Recently, providers stopped checking readings themselves and rely on estimated readings until you submit them. This is why it’s essential that you send meter readings at the beginning and end of your tenancy to avoid paying more than you should.
As with gas and electricity, it is really worth shopping around for a good broadband deal. This is arguably the most important utility in a student house so it’s essential to make sure all the specs match your needs.
For you to legally watch TV (live
or on catch up) you will need to pay for a TV licence. A licence for a year amounts to around ÂŁ150 but you can get a partial refund if you are only living at your university address during term time. You can find out more here: tvlicensing.co.uk/
Full-time students do not need to pay council tax but you do need to let your local council know this by applying for exemption. Typically, you can find a form on their website to do this.
If you have any questions on utilities or would like to speak to a RUSU Adviser, get in touch at rusu.co.uk/getadvice
“To Turn The Tide, We Need To Be Radical” Student Spotlight Stories
WORDS BY MARTIN VELICHKOV
y name is Martin and I am RUSU’s new
Environment and Ethics Officer. Like so many people, I used to have very little interest in politics or activism. After obtaining a biomedical science degree from Oxford three years ago, I thought I should dedicate my career to the next scientific breakthrough – a seemingly noble and prestigious cause. However, I soon came to realise that science will not save the world. People across the globe suffer from poor health not because we haven’t discovered enough new drugs yet, but because of poverty, social exclusion, inequality, and the vested interests of powerful elites and corporations in maintaining the status quo. As long as harmful neo-colonial practices continue to ravage large parts of the world, there won’t be technological innovation and development for those who need it most. And what difference does it make that we have the most advanced climate research, when those in power choose to ignore it and fail to take action against the climate and ecological crises? Science can give us invaluable knowledge and tools, but what we lack as a society is the wisdom and willingness to use them. A friend of mine from high school recently told me that I have become radical. I laughed and I told him I take this as a compliment. Like the word "radish," radical comes from the Latin word for "root." So, to be radical means to get to the roots of problems and that is exactly what we need to be doing. For instance, the ongoing health pandemic has exposed how fragile and interconnected our world is, but we don’t seem to be learning our lesson. Three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals, including COVID19, SARS, Ebola, Zika, HIV, swine flu, bird flu, and many more. By continuing to treat animals as commodities rather than the sentient beings that they are, we are digging our own grave. To many, it may seem “radical” to imagine a world that feeds exclusively on plants, but let’s not forget that not so long ago it was a radical idea to allow women to vote, yet it was perfectly acceptable to own another person as a slave.
Remember, it is a fallacy to appeal to the popular opinion of the day when assessing whether a behaviour is right or wrong.” One of my favourite political theorists, Iris Marion Young, believed firmly in the importance of political activism and individual responsibility. She argued that because we belong together in a system of interdependent processes of cooperation and competition through which we pursue our own interests, we all share responsibility for the unjust outcomes that this system produces. The food that we eat, the clothes that we wear, the transport that we use – all have complex consequences that many of us may not be aware of.
Did you know? The cobalt in your smartphone battery was likely mined by African children who toil in inhumane conditions for as little as eight pence per day!
Fortunately, more and more young You can get in touch people choose to be informed and with Martin via his socially conscious citizens rather than Part-time Officer willing consumers and obedient email, workers. There is a lot that we can do, environmentandethic individually and collectively, to turn the email@example.com. Keep tide and solve even the thorniest up to date with problems that we face. RUSU’s continued On a fundamental level, we live in a work towards a more society that equates prosperity with sustainable future by perpetual economic growth, where following us on social happiness is associated with the media, and checking freedom to consume and accumulate our website regularly! ever more goods. Too much emphasis on individualism makes us First, we need to stop electing indifferent to the consequences of our “establishment” politicians who have actions and blind to the suffering of repeatedly shown that they lack the political others, which is why we need to courage to tackle our most pressing actively challenge the problematic problems. It is vital that all citizens engage norms and values that we have been critically in the political process, yet many socialised into. Perhaps we should people choose to forgo voting altogether or seek to embrace virtues such as allow themselves to be swayed by illogical compassion, frugality, “arguments” that depend on their lack of and sustainability in place of education to promote ideologies which are materialism and consumerism. Also, directly opposed to their interests. Please we have to recognise the existence of understand that not caring about politics is a structures of oppression that reinforce sign of privilege. It means that your life is the very problems that we are trying to comfortable and secure enough to allow you resolve. Oppression is institutionalised to ignore what happens politically. However, power that is historically formed and for many minorities and oppressed perpetuated over time, allowing communities, a strong and loud political certain groups to assume a dominant voice is the only way they can resist position over others. For example, the repression and draw attention to their fossil fuel industry, which is intimately grievances. Our individual actions are of intertwined with white patriarchal rule, immense importance too. As consumers, we spends approximately $200 have the power to make purchasing choices million every year on lobbying that support ethical and sustainable designed to control, delay, or block business practices. For instance, switching binding climate policy. Oil and gas to a plant-based diet would cut your foodcompanies can buy considerable related greenhouse gas emissions by 85% political power through donations and while also reducing your risk of cancer, shape the public discourse in their diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and early favour by funding think tanks and front death. Finally, even if your actions seem groups, whereas the disadvantaged futile at times, they serve an important people who will bear the brunt of expressive function. Your positive example climate change can do relatively little can inspire others to live more conscious to influence the policy making lifestyles as well, creating a domino effect process. So how can we fix this power that has the power to change the world. imbalance?
Literature and Languages Senior Rep, Alannah Moody talks about her ideas for next year Lit and Lang Senior Rep, Alannah Moody has already been getting super involved. She spills her new ideas… RR: Do you have ideas on what you’d like to do or achieve during your time in post?
RR: You’re a newly elected Senior Rep; what are you most excited about? ALANNAH SAYS: I’m most excited about getting to meet with more students from other departments and years; as an English Literature student I hardly ever get to meet those doing Languages, even though we’re in the same school! Now that I’ve been given the opportunity to represent my school I’d certainly like to get to know those outside of my course better. RR: What made you decide to run for the Senior Rep role this year? ALANNAH SAYS: When I told my friends I wanted to run for Senior Rep, they actually said “You can’t do this AS WELL!” as I do take on quite a lot! Joking aside, they’ve been very encouraging, and when I was nervous about applying I received a lot of support from RUSU staff. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to apply if it wasn’t for the support from Georgina, former Rep Employability Coordinator at RUSU; now I’m so glad I did!
ALANNAH SAYS: I’m really hoping to continue developing the Lit and Lang show, started by my predecessors Kia and Rebecca - it proved really popular last year and I want to work to make it an even greater success! Outside of that major event, I’m hoping to implement changes to improve the accessibility of online resources for the school, as so much of our degrees in languages rely on heavy reading. I’d like to increase communication between different departments in the school, particularly to benefit joint honours students, who sometimes feel a little disconnected from both of their ‘home’ departments.
Now that I’ve been given the opportunity to represent my school, I’d certainly like to get to know those outside of my course better…maybe I should put on a couple of socials!”
RR: How have you found lockdown so far? ALANNAH SAYS: Learning from home has been pretty good! I think this is a great learning opportunity for the University in terms of how to make best use of online resources - having to rely on them has shown how we can successfully integrate them in the future when we return to inperson teaching. Learning and training online has also resulted in me seeing a lot of dogs/cats, which certainly enhances my experience - I wonder if we can find a way to bring that into the University experience going forward! 14
Announcements The brand new halls Facebook groups for 2020/21 are set up and already building their members. They are an online community for new students and can be used to find and get to know housemates, share information and get updates from the Students' Union. Find these here: www.facebook.com/rusuevents/groups
Look out for 2020 Rep election dates coming soon..!
Course IoE Course Rep Training IoE 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 Monday 21st September Tuesday 29th September Thursday 26th October Tuesday 3rd November Monday 26th October 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 17:00 – 19:00 12:00 – 14:00 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 - 12:00 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
Location TBC TBC TBC TBC TBC TBC TBC TBC TBC TBC TBC TBC TBC TBC TBC TBC
Please note, location for Rep training is still to be confirmed and is likely will take place online. A Doodle Poll will be available in the Autumn term for you to sign up for Rep training and more details to follow in the next issue 35.
â€œYou are the only one that has the power to define and redefine who you want to be and who you really are!â€? IF YOU COULD ONLY ACHIEVE ONE GOAL THIS YEAR, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I would love to enlighten as many people as possible on the importance of understanding the different perspectives of, not just student life, but human life in general, in order to promote a better and healthier relationship between people of all backgrounds and abilities.
Quickfire Qâ€™s Comedy or horror? Horror Text or call? Text Pasta or pizza? Pizza 100% Insta or Twitter? Instagram Apple or android? Apple Truth or dare? Truth Cats or dogs? Both Book or movie? Book Exam or Coursework? Coursework Mojos or Mondial? Mojos Early bird or night owl? Night owl
Take part in our back page quiz and get a free Starbucks!
Sharing a coffee with BAME Studentsâ€™ Officer and Humanities Senior Rep
BEST ADVICE YOUâ€™VE EVER RECEIVED? â€˜Stop caring about what other people think of you because they werenâ€™t there when you were born and they most certainly will not die with you. The only opinion that should matter is your own because you are the only one that has the power to define and redefine who you want to be and who you really are!â€™ WHAT FOOD ITEM BEST REPRESENTS YOU? Honey- universally no one can resist the taste of honey because itâ€™s sweet. And I like to think Iâ€™m a sweet person; once you let me into your life I will not only make you laugh and make you happy but Iâ€™ll always be there to comfort you. đ&#x;˜Š FAVOURITE PLACE YOUâ€™VE VISITEDâ€Ś I havenâ€™t really visited anywhere breath-taking yet or anywhere I would consider to be my favourite, but I hope to travel to places in the near future. FIRST THING YOU PLAN TO DO AFTER LOCKDOWN? Party with my friends 100% - I need a social life again! HOW CAN STUDENTS CONTACT YOU THIS YEAR? You can always contact me on my email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Psstâ€Ś Iâ€™m working alongside RUSU staff on the Black Lives Matter working group â€“ if youâ€™d like to be involved, or have ideas for Black History Month in October, get in touch!
The Reading Rep newsletter is a monthly publication that aims to turn up the volume on Student Voice at the University of Reading Students'...
Published on Jul 17, 2020
The Reading Rep newsletter is a monthly publication that aims to turn up the volume on Student Voice at the University of Reading Students'...