Surrey SabbCast


March 11, 2021 University of Surrey Students' Union Season 1 Episode 22
Surrey SabbCast
Show Notes Transcript

This week, VP Community Izzy Watkins meets Nathaniel Nelson-Williams, Community zone member and Tom Parrott, Estates & Facilities.

Nathaniel talks about his campaigning work on sustainability, and Tom gives an update on what the University are doing.

Joining them are President Lizzie, and VP Voice Theo.

Computer Generate transcript 


Welcome to the Surrey Sabbcast. 

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 or find us on Instagram and Facebook at Surrey Union. 

Hello and welcome to the Surrey subcaste. My name is Izzy and I am your vice president community. Today we're wrapping up Sustainability Week and discussing the students union and universities commitment to sustainability. 

As usual, we are joined by the Subs Lizzie and Theo, as well as two special guests, Tom and Nathaniel. 

Thanks Izzy and thank you very much for having me here today. So I'm Tom Parrot on the head of energy and sustainability at the University of Surrey. Been here since am early 2019 and I leave the university's development and delivery of the operational strategy for sustainability, which includes on that server carbon targets and objectives. 

Not busy, thanks for fancy. My name is Nathaniel. I'm associated business management with marking scheme. 

Yeah, business manager. 


And I'm also a community officer here at the Union and working with the Union to help launch the sustainable cycle bin. 

Sustainability is something that matters greatly to students here at sorry and we know this because of a campaign called make your Change so Theo could you explain what make your changes and how sustainability was chosen as our big campaign this year? 

Yeah, absolutely. So make your change was a campaign that was brought about by our Union chair a couple years ago, maybe even know it was three years ago. Something like that now and essentially what we use it as is. Its the as we do at the beginning of the year. Begin the academic here. I should mention not not the beginning of the calendar year. 

I'm and it serves two purposes really, is it? One gives knew students in freshers. I kind of an insight into what democracy is like it. Sorry it gives him, you know kind of a little sort of sorry decides pre lude is a something to vote on something to make a decision on what the Union could do for them. That kind of thing. And it also we use it to help set the focus of what the students want our focus to be for the rest of the year. So we get that we shortlist several categories which is just so we get students to. 

Submit a load of ideas and we take out silly ones and trust me there are lots of silly ones and then we shortlist those into various categories so one of them being sustainability. 

Ann Sustainability has won two years in a row now quite significantly so. It is very much something that's close to Surrey students Hearts, and as a result of that we try and do our best to improve it and focus on it. 

Fab and I think sustainable. Sorry being chosen as the Maker Change campaign this year was obviously great news for the community zone, but especially for Nathaniel who had a sustainability campaign as part of his manifesto. So now would you like to give us a late introduction? 


Toward hash tag sustainable sorry is all about. 

Yeah, no problem, but also sustainable. So really started from like many students having ingested stand ability. But for me personally when I was in school I would always enjoy laying up business and how businesses work, but I was always interested in why sustainability or corporate social responsibility was an option for some businesses, especially given the VV awareness and the rest of sustainability is special. 

Today and always wanted to join the Union and I saw you know, especially since sustainability. 

Falls under the community zones, remit, and primarily that would be great to launch an integrated campaign essentially to continue everything means already doing with sustainability, but to bring more of the Community innocence into it both at the University and in Guildford in Surrey. In the wider areas. So so practically what that looks like is. 


Again, as I said, us continuing were already doing, but reaching out to the sustainability team and wedding business, patient and outreach student enterprise academic departments and saying, how can we work together to raise the awareness, sustainability and essentially brought in and out so more students can get involved and then second to that in terms of the local community going to local charities, local businesses, local schools and saying hey, we have this idea. Large students want to get involved. How can work together as well? 

And so the campaign re. 

Really stems from 3 core objectives with engagement community in continuity and under service. Yeah there buzz words. I think they really summarise what we're trying to do, so for engagement it was really looking to increase the opportunities available to students to engage with sustainability. And yes alongside so the active isn't perspective. But what about? For instance, students are always interested in starting their own business and really interested in social enterprise and wanted to launch sustainable brand for instance. 

And from community, the University works with local schools. Is there a way that we can say that in for my widen participation Now retrospective still focusing on raising awareness and aspirations but having sustainability elements in there as well and then we have continuity. It was a case of. 

We can last campaign this year and this just awesome knows we did Friday compared to two years in a row. But still having that continuity. So in five years, six or seven years we can say in 2020 we launched something and seven years later this is how it's grown. This is what we've achieved and we can continue this year when you. 

Yeah, and so that was the SD overarching vision for it. And then as to the specifics, you have different projects, which I guess we can go into in terms of events and fundraising. Partnering with we make, which is in ethical fashion, charity and so much more so than a nutshell is what the campaign. 

And body is not for those trying to achieve. 

Thank you for that introduction. That, and it's been really amazing to see how sustainable Storey has developed over the last couple of months and the way its expanded and been relevant to so many different aspects of University life. Both the academic side. 

Student life and even discussions about facilities on campus and I have been talking about food waste apps recently and how we might be able to get outlets here to use them. We've been talking about fashion and is of the clothing. the University in the Union users and this is all developed from the campaign, so it's been really good to see how it's developed in the last few months and will continue developing to developed through. 

Best of this academic year and beyond. So the students Union has had a relationship with the University sustainability team for a number of years now. So the vice president community sits on the Sustainability steering group and often part time officers have also attended, and the phaniel in particular this year, and we've had lots of opportunities to work with them and contribute to discussions surrounding the University and sustainability. And I think one of the first collaborative initiatives we worked on this academic year was the Sustainability Forum. 

So that might be a good place for us to start a discussion around. 

For anybody who is not familiar with the forum, it's an opportunity for students and staff to hear what the University and the students Union are up to in regards to sustainability as well as to ask any questions, raise an issue, or make comments on what's happening. So we've now had two forums and Thomas Daniel who have both been on the panel for both of them. How do you think they've gone so far and do you have any key takeaways from our last two forums? 

Thanks Izzy, I think the the forums have been absolutely fantastic to take part in. 

As as I think Nathaniel said beforehand and he put this really well, yeah, this is about sort of widening participation in sustainable. It is about getting more people interested in sustainability other than what some might imagine as the more conventional crowds. I think. So taking part for me has been about sharing our plans as a University, sharing our strategy as a University. But it's not just a presentation. 

No, it's actually asking for feedback. We want people to comment. We want people to come to the forms we wanted to comment on what we're doing as a University. We want them to tell, tell us, give us feedback. If you don't think it's the right. If you think it could be improved, let us have that feedback. Make suggestions as to how it can be improved because I think there's a better chance of us having a successful strategy. If people really feel like they're part of that and part of that change. So that's what I'd encourage, and anyone who is thinking about. We're not quite sure about attending the. 

Perform in the future we will get some additional dates in the diary. For that I just say, please come. 

Please see what we're talking about. Please see the university's plans, see the fantastic work that the Union and the Sam's have done this year. Establishing the environmental policy and the campaign, and way more than that, and give us your thoughts on it. Were really interested to hear them. 

Yeah, I definitely agree with work. 

Sometimes I think, especially with the funds as well, because this is almost one link to the continuity point, so we will have two. 

And you have every academic year, but I think there also is like a place to just. I generate loads of ideas and I think we can kind of be creative in insert apps, hearing a suggestion or hearing an idea and then perhaps trying it from semester one and then updating on how it went in semester two and then see how that worked. And and I think especially now in line with sustainability wraps the attendance. Hopefully fingers crossed will grow year on year on year and I think it's just the perfect opportunity for all of us to kind of show. We're working on engage students more, reflect on what we can do and what we have done. 

And so yeah, I agree. I think the forms is just listen to be honest and and I think also is a last point. It gives another Ave for other departments and other organisations that will work with such as remake. So things Jasmine as a normal presented and then who knows? Maybe in the future we have more departments and more people coming to speak at the forum just to make it as engaging. 

Work citing possible. One of the things that stood out to me. Our first forum was when a student highlighted the clothing brands for the University of Students Union used for. 

Merchandise and personalised clothing. 

And I think on both sides were taken away this comment and done some research. I'm currently looking into finding a sustainable clothing brand to partner with. Try and get reduced rates for clubs and societies for the hoodies and their other merch that set up a Q&A on Instagram, live with, eaten that, eat an not to eat, and that was a very interesting discussion around fast fashion. And how disable ethical fashion brands are so much better for the world. And of course in the second forum we had a really interesting presentation. 

From Yasmin from remake. So it just goes to show that you know if students highlighting just one comment. 

Does we do take away what students have to say and certainly look into it? And we've definitely learned a lot from that one comment that someone raised during the first forum and continuing to work on that point. 

I think if you if you take that comment, is he the that question that about sustainable clothing brands and the materials we use and that sort of exemplifies the depth of questioning that we're getting from students now. But we need to respond to, and I think it's fantastic that we have such well thought out questions that are coming at these forums and keeping us on our toes. 

And I think you'll find that quite a lot of the time it's not possible for us to have the immediate answer for that there and then, but you will see that actually the work that has stimulated behind the scenes is positive in itself because it's actually driving the change. So we need people asking these questions and keep us on our toes. 

Absolutely moving on to some of the other things that the University in particular is working on. One thing I learned through attending sustainability meetings was about the university's commitment to sustainability within the curriculum. In particular, the DJ course was something I I heard about. It was very interested to know more. 

So Tom, could you tell? 

Us a little more about this. 

Yes, absolutely said the the GTA is a sustainability module. The Global Graduate Award in Sustainability is an extra curricular module that we offer free of charge to all sorry students and what it offers really is an opportunity to get a really in depth understanding of the issues affecting sustainability on our planet. So throughout the series of lectures and assignments you'll hear from. 

Be abusive. 

A different sort of experts from industry. You have my own lecturers on sustainability. You'll get an understanding of how sustainability relates to your course, which is of course an objective for sorry, because we want everyone to leave the University with an understanding of how sustainability relates to their chosen career path and what they can do to reduce the environmental impact and promote better social interactions and. 

I think the other thing is that on this course I get to present as well about what the University is doing, which is really good coz again we get these fantastic flowing interactions with students who are some great questions about sustainability. But I would encourage anyone to go and have a look at that. We had 170 people across the University attending that course last. 

Yeah, and and I think you know it's always sort of oversubscribed so so definitely cheque it out. It's a really worthy addition to to your you're sort of CVS. 

Yeah, that's fantastic to hear that so many students are taking up the opportunity and I definitely recommend any student who does have an interest in sustainability or wants to know more to take it up. It's a great thing to know and also a great addition for your CV and your employablity. 

Something something else I wanted to mention today was a little initiative that the Subs took on in the past week is part of the Sustainability Week, which was the hash tag sustainable Saab Challenge? So over the week we all had our own individual challenge. It was basically a little lifestyle change I guess for us to try, which would make our routine a little bit more sustainable. 

So I for example tried food waste apps so I downloaded too good to go in earlier and I had a very good time using both of them. I thought they were both brilliant. I'd definitely recommend them. Maya went vegetarian for a week an she made some very nice looking meals. Aaron tried 92nd maximum shower. 

And Lizzie did some charity shop donating, so I don't know if if you like tell everyone a little bit about what you did and how it's helpful to sustainable goal. 

Yeah, of course. Thank you. See an. So my sustainable SAP challenge was probably not as not as week long as the rest of the team, and that's something that students have. 

Ways to this. About entering a specific students are really keen and to advocate forwards around fast fashion and actually if you've got clothes you don't, just don't just throw them out and can't donate them to charity and keep that cycle going so you push people away from fast fashion as much as possible. Because of the time fast fashion on the road last an end up being chucked away. 

I always got started. People just don't want to anymore. 

So I spent an evening go through our wardrobe and anything I haven't worn in over a year and went to charity Anne and was putting there's loads of charity bins or around an apartment last I kill, so I'd encourage anyone. Just have a dig through wardrobe and donate anything you haven't done. 

I agree, I think all of us have at least one or two T shirts that are just sitting in the wardrobe. Haven't been worn for months and could be going to someone who needs it. 


And on the opposite side, it also good idea to consider going to charity shops when you need to buy some more clothes. You certainly find some really nice items in there. I think sometimes charge shops get a bad rap Lego it's you know, not the best clothes. But actually you can find some really nice clothes in charity shop. You just need to do some digging and we have plenty of them in Guildford, so you should have some luck. So one more initiative I wanted us to mention today. 

That particular activity and community are working on is the new role of sustainability Rep, so you may know that AGM season is coming up soon and we encouraging sport clubs and societies to introduce a new non signatory roll to their committees. Which is the sustainability rap as the name might suggest, the role is all about overseeing the Global Society Committee and their activities and just ensuring that what they're doing is. 


In the interest of being as sustainable as possible, so whether it be looking at the way their marketing and seeing whether they can do QR codes rather than 100 Flyers, whether it be looking at where they're getting their merchandise from, how their travelling to events, whether they can use public transport. While that rather than cause that sort of thing, so it's going to be a new role when they knew committees takeover in a month or so is time, and we're really looking forward to seeing how it will. 

Shut up and how we can support the new sustainability reps in this position. 

Nothing, nothing that's awesome man. And I think one of the cool things about it as well is initially with the campaign and trying to tag sustainability, design societies and clubs where there isn't necessarily a direct link to sustainability. 

I'm the role of the rap could be to generate those ideas and take the projects on and I think for club and societies, especially if they've already got. 

Plans set for the year and semester by semester. If there were additional projects that came from the Union or were in collaboration with the University, there would be an extra member on the committee to take these projects on, and so it shouldn't interfere with any current plans and only compliment them level. So I think it's a great idea. 

Yeah, that's a good point coz I feel a little club in societies know their activity takes a lot of effort and a lot of planning and adding worrying about being sustainable. On top of that can be a lot of extra pressure on existing. 

She Sai I hope that by us having this position, it can take that one little bit of pressure off of existing committee members so they know that they have somebody whose whole purpose for the global society is to worry about sustainability so they can. You know, worry about till the other elements of their activity. 

I think that links pretty well too. 

One of the fundamental principles I've found in in sort of changing or trying to change people's behaviours, or trying to sort of get people to think about things differently. Where sustainability is concerned, is you've really got to make it simple for people you know, and that's not to patronise or condescend the tool. It's people are busy. As you say. You know they have sort of other priorities. They're trying to organise these events that happened with other universities an and. 

It's it's really important that if we want people to do things and we want people to engage, then we break it down and we make it simple for people. So I think that sort of role is is a really good step forward and I can't wait to see that in action. 

Whilst we've got Tom on the podcast to my right to ask you 2 questions, one of them is not very serious question, but one of them is. So do you want the serious question first? All the other less so serious question. 

I will. 

Let's take the serious question 1st, and then I'll I'll consoled myself with the less serious. 

Okay, so my question is something that has been kind of bubbling away inside politics for wild Now, which I'm sure you'll be aware of, and so it is that kind of drive to disinvest from from Barclays. Now something that we have here at sorry we had a motion go through at exec a few years ago and it's something. 

Seen mentioned at other universities in their student unions. So my question is, is and you know you can. Maybe you can help me another you know people who understand what? Why is it Barclays you know why is that bank particularly the one that everyone wants to getaway from? 

I'm glad I saved that. Less serious question is a little wet desert am. I think I think really Theo. The answer to your question is that Barclays have been highlighted as having a number of investments. If I'm correct, in sort of the fossil fuel industry, the more damaging end of the fossil fuel industry. 

And at the moment I am sure there is some work going on. They haven't made any announcements about sort of backing out of those other banks and trusts have done and I think that's where that's where the pressure comes from. You know the University of South this sort of go back to this was one of the first universities to divest in fossil fuels back in 2015. 

It hasn't made any direct in fossil fuels. Direct investment in fossil fuels since then, so. 

It's something that we were very active on and aware of, so this question on Barclays just brings it back to the full really and and I think there's some pressure being applied by certain student groups on this. 

At the moment. 

You know, it's interesting coz you know in in in my mind I'd kind of assumed that. Certainly in perhaps before coming universities that one banks investment policy was kind of as bad as in others, but. 

I suppose there's also on top of what actually is the case. There's the public perception as you mentioned. If they sort of actively not been as forthcoming and saying yet, or will move away from that, it starts to leave a bit of a sour taste in people's mouth, and therefore you know, it's not to kind of create that movement away from them. 

There's so can I jump in about about this thing, so as Thomas Theatre said. 

Smite, sorry. 


Then, following a motion that was passed, companies in 2018 and this suits you may have been committed to what the universe is trying director Barclays. It's something we've really started to push this year and so myself, and one of Theo's Zoni. So Russell is very committed to look at the University's an investment in where they hold that money. So we recently had a conversation with the Chief Financial Officer of the University, as well as some members of the finance team. 

Just really express. 

And while students want to come away from Barclays, please conversations have been really, really positive and I think the University just needs to understand a little bit more about why this was so important to students. The conversation has been taken to eBay, so it's going to the executive board and we're just waiting to hear back on the opinions of the Executive Board and not the University an our hope. 


Am I right to ask my non serious question now? Will so some of you who may have watched not the last student voice for him but the one before may remember the great debarkle of our time around, whether the lights stay on in one of the accommodation blocks and there was great amount of confusion and nobody knew the answer at the time. But I believe Mr Tom Parrot does know the answer. So if you could enlighten us to the to the mystery around the lights, I would be very grateful. 

He said this was a joking question. 

I, I think after after this question we went away and we had a look across all the accommodation blocks. We didn't look specifically at this one that we went away and had a look at all of them. There have been a number of lighting projects across the halls of residence through the years. They are for the most part now all fitted with LED lighting. 

The majority of them I say the majority have P IR sensors, but there are some areas and this is one of the areas of specific, but we didn't have the IR sensors. So what we are going to do is the next time we do in LED lighting projects and we do them periodically every year and we're going to pick that up and include it in that scope of work so we do get those lights turned off. The only comfort I can give at the moment as they are LED so not using a lot of electricity, but that's that's not good enough and we will improve on that. 

The other thing I'd say actually in more positive news is the lead project we are focusing on. This year is to replace the Surrey Sports Park lighting. 

Which is sort of 2010 original instal with LED lighting and so that all the sort of lighting on the outdoor pictures is now going to be completely LED and that will significantly reduce our emissions every year. So, so that's positive that's going on the halls of residence. Work will be picked up in the refurbishment programme and I will make sure that that happens. 

Excellent thank you as well as I said to you before before we started recording. I've never seen so many people suddenly become so outraged in the comments section of a student voice forum when Andy Dunnett dared to challenge the fact that the lights didn't turn off. But yeah, no. Thank you very much for that. And it seems like that will be fixed in the near future. 

Am I think will be wrapping up soon, but before that Tom is there anything we haven't mentioned yet? 

Your team is working on in particular that you think our listeners might like to know more about. 

Thanks Izzy, I think there's there's a couple of things I'd really like to highlight to people if they're not already aware and one is that last year the University committed to a 20-30 net serial carbon target and at the same time we presented them. 

And so we we have actually made progress with that plan. Now of course we include things in that plan, like demand reduction. But one of the big centrepieces of that plan is that we will have far more renewable energy generation on our site than we currently do. So we're working at the moment to appoint a delivery partner who will facilitate that increase in renewable energy generation on our campus. And we hope that can also grow into a large research project with some sort of mutually beneficial research schemes. 

Both parties, and so that's something big that's coming and we hope to sort of provide an update in the summer on how that's going. 



The other piece that I wanted to update you on this week just. 

Just start work looking at a biodiversity action plan for our campuses and and really, I think the exciting thing about this is kind of baselining biodiversity, potentially using students and staff as a bit of resource here and getting more of a sense of responsibility for the campus. So what we're trying to do is get the gate staff and students involved in sort of monitoring biodiversity monitoring, sort of species monitoring, sort of plant life, butterflies, birds. All of those sorts of things. 

And that sort of builds into our biodiversity baseline because we don't have a baseline. We don't know how were affecting by diversity. And then we can then move on from there and still have improve on what we've got. So that's one of the big things that's happening, so we will be working very closely. I've broken that one right here. Actually, I think I told you about that one before is Ian T, but we are going to. In fact, maybe you heard about that, the SSG, but we're going to be trying to use that as a bit of a catalyst to try and engender some responsibility for our campus. 

And so will be coming back with some news on that in the future. 

Exciting stuff, thank you very much, Tom. 

And same question to you Nathaniel. Is there anything we haven't mentioned that you would like everyone to know about the sustainable Storey campaign? 

Thing, as I mentioned two things, I think the first being one point. We actually had a meeting today with the wind. This patient outreach team about working with local schools, so doing a trial in primary schools, again with students and sustainability passes and. 


Mind Space, Norwegian passengers and students avoid expressed interest in being sustainably reps as well, so just see what we can do and I'm going to the foundation for we can do next academic year and I don't just the second thing I want to mention as well is engaging researcher incorporating research into the campaign, particularly from the perspective of the living lab. Working with the Centre for Environment and Sustainability, and believe the term was citizen researchers engaging students in the research and essentially. 


Having the goal of trying to make the campus more sustainable so these are opportunities that we hear about. 


That was the end of time and but. 

The information will be publicised. That's just more ways against Christians get involved with sustainability. And yeah, I'm excited to see how how they turn up. 

I think all that's left to do in that case is to say a massive thank you to Tom and Nathaniel for coming on the podcast today and this afternoon I will be back next week so we will see you then. 

That's everything this week from yourselves. 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. Sorry 365.