Student welfare

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1. Gender neutral toilets

Passed on 7th April 2014. (2nd Meeting of Union Council)

Amended on 20th March 2017 after referanda.
Primary Officer: LGBT
Secondary Officer: Welfare

What is the idea about?

For the Students' Union to:

  • Continue to lobby the university for formal agreement to provide and maintain at least one gender neutral toilet in all main buildings on all campuses
  • To extend this agreement to providing and maintaining at least one gender neutral toilet (of the same size/standard as the gendered facilities) on all floors with more than two gendered toilets on the same floor
  • To review the current list of gender neutral toilets to ensure that they exist
  • To work with the Staff LGBTQ Staff Network to further this campaign
  • To continue to enforce the agreement with the University’s Estates department that Gender Neutral Toilets will be created in all new University Buildings
  • To lobby for an agreement with the University's Estates department that Gender Neutrail Toilets will be created on all floors with more than two gendered toilets.

Why have you proposed it?

  • This has been Union Policy for the past 3 years.
  • The LGBTQ Staff Network has indicated its support in this campaign.
  • Gender neutral toilets are a form of accessible toilets for:
    • Trans people
    • People who don’t want assumptions made about their gender
    • Parents with a child of a different gender
  • These toilets are also extra toilets in a building to be used during busy times of the day.Gender neutral toilets are already in existence in all public buildings in the form of disabled toilets. However, these toilets are specifically for disabled people and should be reserved for this purpose, rather than being repurposed for more general use. A single gender neutral toilet does not take up much space and is an easy addition to new and old buildings
  • Where there are more than two gendered toilets on one floor of a building, it is unnecessary for the rest to be gendered
  • Making existing excess toilets gender neutral will be cost-effective and will ensure that disabled toilets are not used by people without disabilities, thereby reducing congestion.

2. Freedom of expression

17th March 2005. (358th Meeting Union Council)
Amended 4th May 2006. (367th Meeting Union Council)
Amended 29th April 2008. (381st Meeting Union Council)
Amended 9th June 2011. (403rd Meeting Union Council)
Amended 7th October 2014. (423rd Meeting Union Council)
Amended 13th December 2016. (430th Meeting Union Council)

Primary Officer: Welfare
Secondary Officer: Communities

The Students’ Union:

  • Endorses the principle of freedom of thought and expression within the Union.

When upholding this principle, the Students’ Union:

  • Should equally ensure that other freedoms and liberties are not infringed upon.
  • Is required to act in accordance with the other duties imposed on it by law or Union policy.
  • Should require all student groups who are hosting an external speaker and/or organising an event should give written notice to the Union 28 days in advance so that groups receive appropriate support in conducting their events safely.
  • Will remind students that conduct in contravention of Union Policy is a Disciplinary Offence.

3. Accessible Campuses

2nd November 2017. (432nd Meeting Union Council)
Responsible officer: Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer & Disabled Students’ Officer(s)

What is the Policy:

This motion is asking:

  • The Students’ Union to lobby the University to ensure that all new and redeveloped buildings across all University campuses are accessible for disabled students;
  • The Students’ Union to regularly consult with disabled students through the Disabled Students’ Network to collect insight on the actual accessibility of buildings across the campuses;
  • The Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer and the Disabled Students’ Officer(s) to establish an Access and Inclusion working group, to be chaired by the Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer, with membership to include the part-time student Officers, student representatives from the Networks, and relevant SU and University staff;
  • The Students’ Union to work with the University Estates Office to conduct an accessibility audit of all University campuses and identify problem areas on campuses;
  • The Students’ Union to work with the University Estates Office to ensure that disabled students are represented at the planning and consultation stages of any new buildings across all University campuses that have a student- facing function;
  • The Students’ Union to lobby the Estates Office to review the process for communicating access changes to students and the reporting procedure;
  • The Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer to be mandated to work on this policy alongside the Disabled Students’ Officer(s) and the Disabled Students’ Network.

Why have you proposed it?

Accessibility survey responses:

There were 101 student respondents to the “Mobility Around Campus” survey that was commissioned in the Summer term of 2017 by the then SU President. The survey collected qualitative and quantitative data through 14 questions. Below is a summary of the responses and findings; any comments in “quotations” are taken directly from the survey responses compiled by SU Insight. It should be noted that the majority of student respondents (70.8%) selected University Park as their main teaching campus.

On accessible parking spaces across campuses, the areas identified by students who used disabled parking spaces as problematic (defined as where the spaces hadn’t been thought through properly or were in an inappropriate space) included Keighton Auditorium where “parking [is]not on same level as entrance”, Portland Building “Near the Atrium [where] the disabled bays are on sloped ground” and George Green Library where there is a “steep hill from parking spaces to library”.

On wheelchair access to buildings, despite the quantitative data suggesting that the student respondents who used a wheelchair do not have great difficulty in getting around campus, free text comments indicated otherwise: “pathways/pavements too narrow for wheelchairs”, “building works block drop kerbs/accessible entrances” etc. On signage, 51.5% of student respondents thought that the University does not have enough signage. Qualitative comments indicated that “maps and signs should clearly show accessible routes”, “there is not enough signposting to lifts” and that “it can be trick to navigate new buildings”.

On advanced communication of changes to building works, accessible routes and parking spaces, a high proportion of respondents (59.2%) said that they were not told in advance of changes to parking spaces or building works. A further 9.9% stated that they were not told far enough in advance to be able to make changes, with multiple comments made about the changes to accessible entrances and lifts during the Portland redevelopment. 42.4% of respondents answered that they received information on changes through “word of mouth from other students/friends”, with 33.3% of respondents stating they heard about the changes from “no one”. Of the 10.6% of students who specified “other”, the majority stated they received information from the Disabled students Facebook page. This indicates a lack of consistency between individuals and how/when/if they find out about changes to access.

On general suggested improvements to campus, feedback that was mentioned three or more times included “maps with accessible routes and disabled parking bays”, “clearer signage on campus”, “better information communications with students” and “drop curbs where needed”.

Feedback from Disabled Students’ Officers 2017-18, as well as feedback from individual disabled students and the Disabled Students’ Network.

Continuing difficulties have been flagged by many students, even independent of Portland Redevelopment including:

  • Lack of permanent drop kerbs outside Portland Lakeside; New accessible entrances frequently blocked or leaving too little room to fit a wheelchair;
  • Access routes providing space for the passage of a manual wheelchair, but difficulties with wider electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters;
  • New/existing signage indicating accessible entrances pointing to routes that feature heavy, manual doors that are sometimes bolted shut;
  • Out-of-date signage; for instance, Accessible toilet signposted on Portland C floor does not lead to accessible toilet;
  • Academic Support Services only accessible via stairs; this has disadvantaged students with combinations of both physical, particularly mobility related, disabilities, and specific learning difficulties and ADHD.
  • The Portland Redevelopment has highlighted ongoing issues with access.

This is an objective shared by Laura Bealin-Kelly, Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer 2017-18, and Alice Armstrong and Eden Smith, Disabled Students’ Officers 2017-18. Officer objectives are based on manifesto points.

To give the campaign longevity.

The Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer has historically focused on ‘welfare’ based initiatives and campaigns during their time in office. As a result, the ‘Equal Opps’ part of the role has largely been neglected, and campaigns have been left to the part-time student Officers to organise within their networks. This has in the past resulted in stagnation of campaigns and limited progress, as the part-time Officers have had to juggle running a network, organising campaigns and completing their degree. This policy mandates the Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer to support the Disabled Students’ Officer(s) in working on this policy. As the success of this policy is not based on a binary measure, the guaranteed support of the Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer is necessary to ensure that momentum and support does not diminish after the current Officers leave their post at the end of this academic year.

The support of a full-time Officer is particularly useful for policies attached to the Disabled Students’ Officer(s). The nature of the self-defining characteristic that entitles an individual to run for this role may impact on that individual’s ability to fulfil their role – hence why the Officer role is usually a job-share. The support of an additional individual, in particular one who works full-time as an Officer, should assist in the progression of this policy.

In addition, it is helpful for there to be a full-time Officer attached to this policy, as it involves lobbying the University, and the full-time Officer team have significantly more opportunities and established relationships to facilitate this.

Who have you consulted?

  • The current Disabled Students’ Officers, Alice Armstrong and Eden Smith;
  • The Disabled Students’ Network membership;
  • Disabled students who responded to an Accessibility survey commissioned by Ismail Sadurdeen, SU President 2016 -17 (n=101);
  • Full-time SU Officer team 2017-18: Adam Pratchett (Sports Officer), Alan Holey (President), Cassie O’Boyle (Education Officer), Ellie Mitchell (Community Officer), Martin Nguyen (Activities Officer), Yolanda King (Postgraduate Officer);
  • The University of Nottingham Chief Estates and Facilities Officer, Chris Jagger;
  • SU Central Liaison Meeting members – 11/10/17;
  • SU Trustee Board – 13/10/17.

4. Cost of Graduation

2nd November 2017. (432nd Meeting Union Council)
Responsible officer: Education Officer

What is the Policy?

  • To lobby the University for a reduction in the cost of the 2 allocated guest tickets for graduation.
  • To lobby against any reduction in teaching and learning resource to finance this reduction.

Why?

  • Currently the University give 1 free ticket to each graduand and 2 guest tickets at £20 per head, with the potential to access further tickets at £20.
  • We are one of only 3 Russell Group institutions charging for the initial allocation of guests tickets.
  • With the fee increase for the academic year starting September 2017/18, there is an ever increasing consumer relationship between the University and students where by value for money has become paramount.
  • Charging for the initial 2 guest tickets causes high dissatisfaction. As was found when many students contacted Beth Massey, Education Officer 2016/17 during May 2017 to raise the concern.
  • Graduands should have the ability to celebrate with friends/family after already paying a substantial amount to attend university.
  • With a high guest-ticket price, the University are creating a further divide between those students with families from a widening-participation background.
  • For international students who are travelling back to the UK this is also another financial burden after they have paid an even more substantial sum for their education here.
  • Graduation already has hidden, external costs including travel, accommodation and gown hire and the University should reduce the cost of guest tickets to alleviate some of the financial burden from the student or their family.

5. Drug Safety & Harm Reduction

8th November 2018. (435th Meeting, Students Union Council)
Protected until 8th November 2020.
Primary Officer: Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer
Secondary Officer: Community Officer

Why are you proposing this motion?

  • - Drug use is illegal in the UK, that much is clear. But the fact is that despite this, a great number of University of Nottingham students will take drugs during their time here. For some it will be their first time trying and so will know very little about safe use, aside from the advice their friends give them- which is often far from sound.
  • With a publicised provision of both drug safety information and drugs testing kits, the potential for harm will be reduced for those who make the choice to use drugs whilst at the university.
  • Ignoring the issue and only holding a drugs policy that simply calls for punishment for any use leads to harm for those who take drugs despite the rules. Addressing and confronting the reality that many will take drugs regardless will allow for safer use and reduce the chances of the university seeing one of its students become victim to a tragedy. .

What is the motion asking the Students' Union to be mandated to do?

  • In order to reduce harm that can come to students, whilst acknowledging that drug use is illegal, we also need to acknowledge that it does and perhaps always will happen. We need to provide easily accessible and visible drug safety information (both on SU website and physically in the form of pamphlets) to ensure that if students are going to take drugs, they do so in the safest way possible. We also need to provide web links and contact information which students can access if they feel they are developing a problem. This all comes under the umbrella of education and can be aided by collaborating with the charity ‘The Loop’, which provides drug safety information and harm reduction methods, Uni of Sheffield SU being a prominent example. Sheffield SU promotes local drug addiction charities too to provide confidential support for those who feel they may have a problem.
  • This motion also calls on the union to provide, at request of students, drugs testing kits. Students will have purchased their drugs off of sources with no guarantee of the contents of what they are taking, purely by nature of it being a black market. Drugs either being laced with dangerous substances or being of extremely high potency, are two of the main factors behind harm in drug use. If we could ensure that the likelihood of students taking these types of drugs is minimised, then we will have gone the extra mile to protect them. Ignoring the matter is doing a disservice to students.
  • This motion is asking the union to emphasise that drug use is not in any way condoned by the union. But it is also asking the union not to condone ignoring the potential harms that can come to students who do decide to go through with use. Our duty of care does not stop at the law in this case, it goes as far is necessary under a realist perspective to ensure the safety of students.

What evidence do you have to back it up?

  • The Loop charity- works across the nation at events and festivals, providing information and drugs testing.
  • https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/students-drug-testing-kits-universities-unions-nus-buckingham-university-a8574216.html Increasing number of Student Unions requesting drug testing kits to help ensure the safety of their students. Many universities already offer the service including Manchester, Newcastle and Sussex. In July of this year the home office said that it ‘would not stand in the way’ of drugs testing facilities at clubs and festivals. Considering university campuses and students are known for being a hotbed for drug use it is surely the next logical step.
  • Sheffield student’s union- drugs safety information with The Loop already in place, they wish to increase visibility but this has been limited by a zero-tolerance policy following the death of someone in their SU nightclub. Slowly been moving this policy towards harm reduction, now wish to continue to make the information more visible, and had expressed a desire to allow provision of drugs testing kits.

Who supports your idea/who have you spoken to about it?

  • All SU Officers (unanimous)
  • Dr Sue Price (University of Nottingham professor and expert in drug policy)
  • Entire UoN Labour Society
  • Untested but suspected widespread support across campus.

6. UoNSU Widening Participation Strategy

8th November 2018. (435th Meeting, Students Union Council)
Protected until 8th November 2020.
Primary Officer: Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer
Secondary Officer: Education Officer

This Union Notes:

  • That there are unique issues relating to Widening Participation students, particularly around attainment, retention and equality of opportunity and experience.
  • That currently UoNSU has no formal mechanisms for supporting Widening Participation students.
  • That the University currently makes provision for Widening Participation Students.
  • That the next UoNSU Strategy does not make any reference to Widening Participation.

This Union Believes:

  • That success at university is not just about academic success but the chance to thrive as both an individual and as part of a community.
  • That the opportunity to have the best and most immersive student experience should not be affected by personal circumstance.
  • Increased access to opportunities during study leads directly to higher employability after study.

This Union Resolves:

  • To conduct research into the experience of Widening Participations students, including BME, Mature, Low progression neighbourhoods, care leavers, and disabled students. In line with other existing policy, this should also seek to include research into the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers. Particular areas of research should focus on course costs, travel, access to sports and societies, as well as more general support.
  • To use this insight and the experiences of relevant students to create a Widening Participation Strategy. The Strategy shall be implemented by a Widening Participation Working Group who shall steer the delivery.
  • The Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer and the Education Officer shall chair the Widening Participation Working Group.
  • To work with and lobby the University of Nottingham to devolve funding to the Students’ Union to develop and deliver support for students in line with the Widening Participation Strategy, in particular in developing a bursary administered by the Students’ Union.
  • To investigate funding models for the sustainable delivery of the Strategy.