This week we hear directly from students who tell us what they think of returning to campus and their experience at University so far since returning.
As usual, your sabbs also give an update about what they have been doing this week
Welcome to the Surrey Sabb Cast. News from the University of Surrey Students Union, all about your student life and what your elected officers have been doing for you this week, representing you across the University of Surrey. Find out more at www.ussu.co.uk. Or find us on Instagram and Facebook at Surrey Union.
Hello and welcome to this weeks Surrey SabbCast, and welcome to campus. It's great to see you all back on campus. We've missed you. This week as ever, I'm joined by your VPs, Theo, Aaron, Maya, and Izzy. But most importantly, this week we are joined by you, our students. We've been out and about to hear from you and your campus experience. So let's hear what you had to say.
My name is Leah.
[inaudible 00:01:10] Babish
Russell Sherard Smith.
Tom Baker and I'm in third year studying Theatre and Performance.
I'm studying Psychology and I'm in my second year.
I'm going for my Masters in International Relations.
Third year Economics and Finance student.
I'm in year three and I'm studying Business Management.
I'm a final year Politics student.
I'm in third year and I'm studying International Relations.
Doing Computer Science here the first year.
I am in my third year and I study Accounting and Finance.
I'm in first year doing Business Management.
Second year and I study Vet Med.
I'm in third year, returning from placement and I study electronic engineering.
I'm year three and I'm studying English Literature.
Yeah, I was a bit worried, especially because I didn't know if I would be able to come because I live in France. So yeah, I was very worried, but at the end I was very excited to come. And well, I had to quarantine for two weeks, which was obviously very hard. But from now regarding the security team issues, I'm not, I'm not really worried.
I was worried because I didn't know how the Uni would have fared with the situation going on, but I was really looking forward to coming back and being on campus and with my friends and doing my course. It's been fine for me up to now. And I consider myself very lucky because I have a house, private house with my friends. So I get to be around people all of the time. So it hasn't been that bad. I am a bit disappointed that everything is online and I'm watching prerecorded lectures from the past year- years, but it is what it is.
I trusted the university and put in the right precautions in place for us. And so far it's been a positive experience. I've noticed the precautions they've taken into, into account and yeah, I feel safe so far.
The teachers and the lectures everyone's taken good precautions in place. So we do feel safe here.
And I was looking forwards to come. It's been a good time since I come, everything is immaculate. I didn't expect this level of quality before. I was like, you search to find for flaws and you can't find anything. Yeah. It has a good atmosphere around. No, everything has been incredible. I've been worrying about the usage of masks, but that's all about it. I can't find anything negative. I'm super happy about everything.
I was really looking forward to coming to campus mainly because staying at home for six months is, is very tiring.
So it was good to get to Guilford and to be able to see people. I've enjoyed it because I haven't seen friends for ages. So it's been good to get back. The lake was really fun and other events, so yeah, I've enjoyed it so far.
It wasn't sure what like social life and sports life was going to look like, but I was really excited to see my lectures again, see all my friends again and hopefully get back to some sort of a normal life. It has been different so far, but I think the university has done a good job of, of making the most of the situation. And most of the students seem very keen to do the same. So I'm happy with the positivity of everyone so far.
Mostly I was worried about students would wind up breaking the social distancing guidelines and like how that would be enforced. But I think overall that went pretty well. So yeah.
There's a lot of sanitizers around campus. Everyone's wearing a mask and everyone's follow- following the rules. So it safe on campus and yeah, enjoy to be here
Probably on the first place is that a- I see that many students have returned already and they're looking forward to, to start the new year, your new year in studying here. And I see how the Union and the lecturers are trying to do their best to try and fulfil all of our needs that we have this year in terms of studying and academic appearance and these kinds of stuff and everything. Everything, everyone has been very helpful.
I've actually already been a student on campus for four years, so I wasn't nervous, but at the same time, I suppose it was a bit worrying because all my friends from my undergrad have left. So I was a bit worried about, you know, would I make new friends and things like that, but what has it been like so far, it's actually been better than I thought, you know, I've made the friends I wanted to make and things are going better then than I thought. So, yeah.
I was supposed to be on PTY this year in Madrid. So it was kind of unexpected to come back to campus. But I was looking forward to seeing classmates again, but a bit apprehensive on what kind of form that would be. So far, it's kind of lived up to my expectations. I would, it would be. So, yeah, it's very, very taken it very seriously. The social distance, which obviously is the right thing to do both. I think they've been quite helpful in a way that they've done it, you know? So lots of support and lots of, kind of, yeah.
I haven't had any sort of expectations coming here, but there hasn't been anything that I've been particularly worried about. The Uni seems to have it sort of all under control and they're making ev- all students feel safe and really taking care of us.
I'm a bit worried about how January is going to look cause I'm supposed to sort of go more back into more practical stuff in January, but so I'm a bit worried how that's going to go depending on the current state of Coronavirus. But other than that, it's fine.
I mean, I'd love to go back in and do lectures, but if that's possible, it depends on what's going on.
There was confusions about classes. So because we have different modules, it was confusing because we, some students weren't sure if it was all online and how the hybrid, you know, system works, because we do have some modules where we have to basically just teach ourselves and then they have like a zoom session for you to ask questions. So it does feel a bit different because you're having to be even more independent and you're paying almost like over nine grand, but you don't have as much support. So I think like it would be nice to just make sure like these new students understand how the modules will be taught and like for there to be more help if they need it.
Collectively, we're all learning as we go. And that's what my lectures- lecturers have told me as well. It's something that they haven't experienced either. So we're all kind of trying to adapt as time goes on. So I think it would be unfair for me to say, oh, if I want to see anything different right now, but I wouldn't say things have been really, really smooth. I think as time goes on, they'll get better.
And so far I think the teachers and the lectures everyone's taken good precautions in place. So we do feel safe here.
It has been how I express it so far, maybe a little bit stricter than I thought we'd be, obviously things are progressing at quite a speed. So it's quite natural that that would happen. I guess I would like to see more social events and stuff like that, that would be Corona friendly. I don't feel that, that I think a lot of students feel quite disconnected at the moment, especially first years, obviously they can't do the normal things that they do every year. But if there was some capacity to expand that more to virtual events, I, that would be really appreciated.
But yeah, I guess I feel secure on the campus. Yeah.
So far things are very good. My courses better than I ever expected to be. People are very friendly. I'm in the university accommodation, so I'm very close to everything. So I haven't had any problem right now.
A huge, huge thank you to all of the students that had a chat with us. It is amazing to hear your different views and opinions. And it's what makes the Student's Union use your voice. So we're going to dig a little bit deeper into some of the comments that were made. We had some really, really positive comments, and we had some that we can potentially look at taking forward to work on behalf of students from the University. So obviously we have the big bits of feedback that we've get, that we've had is that students have been concerned about returning to campus actually about coming back to campus and physically being here in person and Izzy as BP Community, obviously it's your team that oversee Moving In Weekend, and oversee the moving in of those students. So how do you feel that Moving In weekend went and how do you feel as though the Angel's adapted to, to new Corona?
I think the Angels adapted really well and obviously the Move In Weekend was different this year to how we usually have it. Often the Angels are picking up people's bags and taking them directly to their rooms, which wasn't possible this year. But we had just as good feedback from new students and their parents who found, you know, what the Angels did to be very valuable. And yeah, they did get the impression with that everything was doing with safety... Everything was going with safety as a priority.
So Theo, one of our students that we just heard from actually said that they were disappointed to be watching old lectures and as VP, Voice, obviously your, your remit covers academics and especially kind of to do with the hybrid learning and making sure student voices heard. So what's your response to this?
Yeah. So I just want to touch on hybrid learning as a whole, and then I'll come back to specifically the issue that that particular student brought up. So, obviously I think a lot of people are quite understandably disappointed about the number of contact hours they've got compared to previous years. And of course this does depend on the course, but I think there is something to, to save for the fact that obviously in the past, what you would consider as contact time, wasn't necessarily contact time as to what it is now. And I'm explaining what I mean by that, in that. So previously I used to, I did Economics, I would have a couple of two hour lectures every week. And whilst we were in the same room as them talking, you know, there wasn't really much opportunity to ask questions. It was a big lecture hall.
There were, you know, there was a lot of content to get through and it wasn't really contact time in the sense of like you were having a conversation, it wasn't really a good space to discuss things and kind of talk through your problems or kind of theorised concepts and all of that sort of stuff. So although it may be a number of hours wise is less, I think you have the system that we have now gives you a lot more space to, you know, you go where you watch the lectures and your own time and any comeback, and you have the hours of contact time to talk through these things and talk about anything that you are struggling with, or don't really understand.
In terms of what that particular student brought up about having watching lectures that recorded years ago, that is not, what's supposed to be happening at all, that they should be recorded this year with, you know, new content and things were kept in mind with COVID and how they should have subtitles as well if, if you have hearing disabilities. So if there's anyone out there there's also experiencing similar problems to that, do send me an email USSU.firstname.lastname@example.org. And I will chase up all the relevant people cause that shouldn't not be happening.
Aaron, one of the other students said that they felt as though they're paying over 9,000 Pounds a year and actually getting less support. It's unclear what type of support this student meant and whether that was academic support, wellbeing support. But can you give a little overview around what supports students can access while they're at university, especially if they're freshers and don't know where to go.
Yeah, of course, no, that, that really did hit a string with me. I'll heard that and yeah- I really hope in terms of sort of support, wellbeing support, to make everyone aware. So, you still have, for instance, the Union Services. You have Nightline, which a anonymous listening service, which is open at 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM, and you can call that. You also have, and you can speak to them about anything and they're there to support you. However, and as I sort of said to you in the Welcome Talks, if anyone was there is like, even if you're just walking home from a night out and you just feel alone, you can give them a call and they'll keep you company on your way home.
We then also have Positive Minds, which is a support group, a peer support group. They're run by students for students. And that is there that it's run over six weeks. I believe it starts on the 7th of November. And yeah, that's there to sort of support them on a variety of different cases over the six weeks or different topic each week. We obviously have our Welfare Watch if you are sort of around campus and they're running and you're for instance, got a bit drunk last year at Rubix's Lounge, that'd be there to make sure that you're sort of looked after and can sober up.
We then also have, in terms of academic support, we have our Academic Advice, which you can contact by USSU.Advice@surrey.ac.uk. And they're there really to support you, anything academic wise, whether that's EC applications, disciplinaries or appeals, academic misconduct, they're there for all of that. You also still have the Chaplaincy, the Peer Support Scheme run by the University and the Centre for Wellbeing will be operating as normal as possible, such as it will do virtual meetings, and rather than the physical meetings, because obviously the set, the, the, the, the environment of being in a close space with two people in a room, not from the same bubble and it doesn't quite work as well as it would have when it's not in COVID.
And then Maya, we had one student that said that actually, when they came to University, as all their friends had left, they were worrying about making friends during COVID. And then we had another student mentioned kind of the sports clubs that they get involved in. So how can students who are either freshers or haven't been involved at Surrey before, how can they get involved while they're at university?
Well, first of all, it's never too late to get involved. And I really do mean that. I mean, even if you haven't attended the first couple of training sessions or signed up the site here at Freshers Fair, it doesn't mean that it's too late. Just get into contact with a club or society through their email or through the social media. And I'm sure that'd be really, really helpful, or you can just message me and I'll put you in contact with them.
But like I've been saying for quite a few weeks on this podcast is actually Freshers. It's happening right now. So right now you can go onto the Surrey society website, purchase a free pay and play membership, which gives you access to all, all club sessions for, you know, another five weeks from now four weeks basically. And you can just keep trying different things. You don't have commit to anything. You don't have to pay anything. It's absolutely no strings attached. And it's a really great way to meet people. The only thing that's different this year is that you have to book onto it before you attend. And that's obviously because of track and trace and restrictions with capacity.
But other than clubs is also those societies that you can get involved in. And I believe that Virtual Fresher's Fair is actually still live. So if you go onto that, find a site that you're interested in, sign up, and then you'll be sent details by the society on what events they have, whether that's online or in person and things that they're doing. So I think that's a really good way to meet people.
Amazing. Thank you, Maya. I know that from clubs and societies to volunteer, I mean, there's always something to get involved in at Surrey. So please, please do have a look. I am going to open the floor now to all the VPs, just for any comments that you had, obviously hearing all of that, all of that student feedback, what were the specific things that you picked up or the specific things you'd want to tell students?
I think it was really amazing like that there was quite a lot of positivity around it. Everyone's into, there was a lot of regard to COVID and how they, and their COVID safety. I thought I was really nice to be hearing. Obviously there's a shame as well and that is the thing that like, is driving their point of conversation that instead of like, "Oh my God, look at all of the new people I've met" it's "Yeah, no I'm socially distancing". Well, like it is a shame, but obviously in terms of like rules and guidelines, that's really good to be hearing.
I think the most important thing for me, isn't, isn't, you know, that the, just the events that we're doing and them feeling welcomed, it's the fact that they feel safe, like the measures that we've put in place, along with the University of course, are making people feel safe. And that's such a big thing, because a lot of what I was worried about, you know, especially being VP,Activities, that no one would want to get involved in clubs and societies this year, but I guess that's not the case. Yeah. I'm really happy about that.
Yeah. And of course there was the, one of the students at the end, it was talking about how they actually wanted more activities to do. And obviously it's quite you know, there's, that's certainly the thing I've been picking up across since, before coming back is that there's quite a large number of students who perhaps feel safe in their own health and, and want it to be as normal as possible. And then you've got another group of students who either are more cautious or have whatever kind of underlying health conditions, which would mean that getting COVID will be quite serious for them.
And it's trying to balance that where you still have enough social activities that cater for the people that wants to do stuff and can do stuff in a way that is enough, so that obviously you don't want people to go off and do their own things, you know, without social distancing. And that's, I think one of the reasons why having the Lake during Fresher's Week was so important because it encouraged people to come and, and socialise and have fun in a safe way, rather than if there was nothing, they'd probably be more likelys going to do it in house parties or whatever. But then, you know, as I said, balancing that between encouraging safe activity and not having anything at all is quite difficult, but I, I think we're giving it our best shot at the moment.
So can I just add on to that? Because I remember hearing one of the students say, obviously they came back from France and they, and they quarantined. And although it was really difficult and I just wanted to point out that, of course, there's the buddy scheme that we have at the University. So it's always a good, good thing to remind people that if you are quarantining, please do get into contact with the Union because we have people here, we have volunteers that will bring you food that will have a chat with you on online and stuff like that. So you're not alone. And I don't people to think that they are because we're where your Union and we're here to support you.
Amazing. I think one thing that really stuck out to me just to wrap up on is one student in particular said that no one's ever experienced this. And I think that's really, really important to remember both the Union and the University- we rely on student voice to facilitate what we're doing, that that goes for every year. But especially this year, the first time any of us have gone through a pandemic. So we really, really want to hear if the changes the Union and the University are making work, because if they don't, we have a really, really perfect opportunity to change them. And we've got a really, really perfect opportunity to sculpt what student experience, what student life looks like for the future.
So thank you again to all of the students that came and spoke to us. And if you did listen to that and think, I really want to tell people about what my student experience is like, please, please do come and chat to us. Your student voice pushes and drives everything that we do. So we would love to hear from you. Now, we're going to come on to the segment of the podcast that we do every week, where your Sabbatical Officers let you know what they've been up to and the projects that they've got in the works. So Maya we'll kick off with you, we'll mix up a little bit this week. So what has Activity been doing and what have you got coming up in the future?
So this week we've actually just been prepping quite a lot for both our Team Surrey and Society's Conference, you know, liaising with some of our speakers. We've got two keynote speakers, one for Societies and one for Team Surrey. Team Surrey speaker is actually an ex-Surrey student and used to be a part-time officer. So it's really, it's really exciting seeing, you know, alumnis come back and chat to our students.
Just looking at preparations for it really, but one thing I'm quite excited to work on in the future is a collaboration with the Support Zones or something Aaron's been working about, which I'm sure he can elaborate on a bit more, but it's a Consent Course Pledge, which we're doing with Clubs and Societies. So quite excited for that video to come out to, but I'll let Aaron go into it more because it's say it's probably his little project, I think.
Yeah. So yeah, the, the Consent Course is basically, it we'll be looking to come out on the 21st of October and it's essentially there to sort of remind and make sure everyone knows what consent is in terms of not just the sort of, your mind will probably jump on, might jump to the idea of it being as consent sexually, but also just consent in anything in terms of peer pressure. If, for instance, you don't want to drink and people are making you feel like you have to drink or like, however, the situation is, it's making sure that you have consent. So we're based here. I've been to get as many people involved as possible via our hashtag make the pledge where we will get sports clubs and societies to make the pledge that they're going to do the Consent Course.
Wow. On that note, Aaron, do you want to let us know what else you've been up to?
Yeah, well, both Maya and I well, unfortunately I was on annual leave, but Maya did have the-
Still a good preferred with the Wellbeing Champion Q&A-
Wellbeing Champion Q&A. Yeah.
We finally trained over 250 Wellbeing Champions. Yeah. I think that's amazing.
I do too. Got a lot of them now, which is amazing. I've just been prepping stuff for OCD awareness day, which also takes place in October as well as the Consent Course. And then Mental Health Awareness Day, which is the 10th of October, but we're spreading it here across the two days, the Friday the 9th and Saturday the 10th, so that we can have a sort of a affair sort of like thing and the amphitheatre between the Hive and the Nest. And then obviously just making preparations for, well this month now for Black History Month. So yeah. And then just the, obviously it's still working on the comms for the bereavement support, which has in partnership with the Chaplaincy.
So Izzy.,I know you've been up to a load of different things as well. So what have you been up to?
Yeah, definitely. So this week we released the 2020 Living Off Campus Guide, which is really useful if you're living in a house off campus. It includes everything for what goes in which bin to how to deal with conflicts, with a housemate and even how to socialise with friends in a COVID safe way. And that's available digitally for students to access now at ussu.co.uk. We also opened up the Rubix Lounge this week and we've seen a really good turnout so far. The interior is pretty cool. It's quite Phinneas Fox, Departure Point-esque. So it's a nice contrast to the other social spaces we have on campus. I think it's a great spot for dinner or a quick- or cup or cocktail pitcher with your mates. And I think students will definitely spot the five of us up there quite often.
We also trained up 15 new Community Reps to represent students that have been off campus in Onslow, Westborough, Stoughton, Stoke, Walnut Tree, Gilford Park, Town Centre, as well as commuting students. So the Reps will be running local alert telegram groups for all of these areas. So visit the Community Reps page on the USSC website to find the Telegram Group for your local area.
Amazing. Thank you, Izzy. And finally, Theo, what have you been up to?
So the big thing that's this week was on Monday, Uni2 finally launched. After years. It feels like, well it wasn't really years, it was a couple of months, but anyway, that- so that came out. And then apart from that, an awful lot of meetings this week. So did lots of media law training on Monday and Wednesday. We had- on Tuesday, I did Student Disciplinary Panel and the Employability Steering Groups that was all about sort of PTY years and how we're going to kind of deal with that. Going, looking to the future with COVID stuff. And then today has been Student Success Sub-Committee and then a meeting with a some of the vice provosts for education, with the rest of my Voice team. And then tomorrow I've got my Instagram takeover, so that's going to be fun. And I'm also speaking to the BBC this afternoon, as well as so that's, BBC Radio - Surrey, I think.
Lots of super exciting stuff. So thank you to all of the VPs and you guys have all been super busy this week as semester one begins. And we are working to make sure that your experience now you're back on campus is as smooth as it can be.
So a couple of things from the Central Zone. So we are starting to film our first Sabb Chats. So Sabb Chats are monthly videos from all of your Sabbatical Officers, where we talk to you in a little more depth about what we're doing. So through the Sabb Cast, you hear day-to-day stuff. Whereas we'll highlight the really big thing in our Sabb Chats.
I had a support to study on Monday and sat with the, with Theo, with Theo and Aaron on the Student Success Committee today. Some other bits we've been revisiting some old motions. So in line with what the University is talking about with what some old motions that kind of match the objectives. So we're bringing them back to life. As well as having a really in-depth conversation regarding support for our transgender students on campus. It's something that really, really needs to be improved. So something that the Union are really pushing.
In terms of projects, we're consistently with you on the hybrid learning approach. So again, consistently gathering student feedback to make sure that hybrid learning is everything that it should be for students. We've got a lot of exciting projects coming out of that. As Aaron mentioned, it's Black History Month this month. So the Union and the University have got loads of exciting events going on during Black History Month, but also beyond. As a sabbatical and union, we thought it was really important to, to explan- expand the celebration of black history, just be on one month.
And probably the main thing that I've got in the works is a generic kind of revamp of EDI in the University. So the University has a new academic lead for equality, diversity and inclusion. Who's really, really enthusiastic about making university as accessible as possible. So I'm working really closely with Emily Williams, who has filled that role to make sure that you guys can all access your academics and support services in the best way for you. So that is everything from your Sabbs this week in our weekly Sabb Cast. As always, if you hear anything in this podcast or you think of anything coming out of this, please don't hesitate to get in contact at USSU.information, or if you want to contact a Sabbitcial Officer directly USSU. and then their position. So for example, VP, Voice or VP, Support. Really hope you enjoyed it. And thank you again to all the students that had a chat to us. And we look forward to hearing from you soon.
That's everything this week from your Sabbs. Join us on Instagram and Facebook, where you can see what's happening until next week's edition. If you want to get in touch, find us on Microsoft Teams, Instagram, or email us on Surrey365.