Presidents Blog 13/05/22

Council, Elections, and 50th Birthdays...


Hi Everyone,

Work has progressed at a pace in our garden office!! Over the weekend we did a fair bit of painting – when I say we, I mean I did some cutting in and Dave and the big monster got splatted using the rollers! It is now looking even better as there is a floor in, and the outside walls are rendered. The second fix on the electrics are today so I am super excited!! It’s been lovely to not only see the sun this week but also a good deal of rain that has done my plants the world of good! 

It is Mental Health Awareness week and on our website, you can find some resources to help, please have a look through as there are meet-ups and links to other resources.

As you know Monday 16th May marks our first 50th birthday; there will be lots of content so, keep your eyes open on Monday. Like the Queen we have two birthdays, the second is in December; we expect presents for both! During May we will be celebrating what the Association has done throughout the decades. If you have a birthday message for us, please send it to us via our email or post it on social media. We will be collating these messages to put out in December on our second 50th birthday.

As part of our 50th year, we have started to produce a podcast called ‘The Association Conversation Station’. The first podcast came out this week. You can find out more about how to listen here

As you may have seen on social media, we have been busy talking about our new Values and Behaviours Policy. It has been a while in the making but we wanted it to underpin all the work that we do as an Association. Please check it out here.

Our Elections are now open!! Voting close on May 18th. The announcement of who has been elected will be made on May 20th

This year, the Students Association has created a voter incentivised tree planting initiative. We’re asking OU students to help us reach 3000 votes in the Student Leadership elections by Wednesday 18 May. Once the target has been reached, students will be offered the chance to plant a new Blue Cedar tree on campus. Oh, and another thing, voters decide where the tree will be planted on our grounds. A new tree will not only create a legacy in honour of the 2022 elections, but it will also symbolise the start of new beginnings as well as diversify our grounds by providing access to nature. To get involved, cast your vote from today.

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Monday

First up I met with Reiss Millar, 50th Project Manager, and discussed the items we had for May including the new achievements video and student-led projects. 

Next, I met with our brand-new Senior Policy Advisor, Adnan Rahman. It was good to see him again after being on his interview panel. We set out some ways in which we are going to work together and some of our priorities. 

As we are interviewing next week for a new Head of Strategy and Insights, I met with Dan Moloney, Director of Engagement, and Sue MacCabe, current Head of Strategy and Insights, to discuss who we will be interviewing. I am really excited about the candidates, even though Sue’s shoes will be big ones to fill, I think that any one of them has the capability to do a great job.

I then drove over to Cardiff as we had a Council dinner Monday evening. Before the Council dinner, I went to the Student Leadership Team huddle and had an amazing catch-up with Danielle Smith, (in person) who is our Student Member of Council. The dinner was lovely as it was great to see so many people I hadn’t seen for a long time, some I have never actually met face-to-face before and, also some completely new faces. 

Tuesday

After a lovely breakfast with Danielle, it was time for the Council meeting. There was a lot of interesting discussion around some complex issues with a lunch with some of the staff in the Cardiff office. It was so lovely to again meet some people who I hadn’t seen for a long time and actually put ‘legs to faces’ of some I have only ever met on the screen. I gave a Student Association update, including, elections, 50th Celebrations, student-led projects, and strategy. 

I then had a lovely drive home to Bristol in the sunshine!!

Wednesday

The Culture Reform Working Group met and discussed how the Values and Behaviour policy launch was progressing, elections, safe space reporting, and accessibility standards. 

I met with Nick Braithwaite, Exec Dean of STEM, and Victoria Hands from the OU to discuss how our sustainability work was progressing and for the OU to share an update on their work. It is great to have these catch-up meetings as it helps to support and inform this important work.

I met with Dan Moloney next, and we discussed the induction for the new Student Leadership Team and the next International Distance Learning Student Forum which is scheduled for June. This is where we meet with Student representatives from Athabasca University in Canada to exchange ideas and best practices. 

Next up the election team met to discuss how everything is progressing and how to get the word out to more students to encourage them to vote. On Wednesday we had approximately 1300 votes cast, the aim is to have over 3000, so still work to do. 

I then recorded the second of the Association Conversation Station podcasts. My guests were Rob Avann, Chief Exec, Sir John Daniel, former OU Vice-Chancellor, and Chris Walters, former OU Students Association President. It was the most interesting conversation, and I could’ve spoken to them all for hours. This will be released next week so keep a lookout. 

Following that, I had a quick catch-up with Andy Evans from DigiComms and Reiss to discuss the podcast.

My next meeting was an OU meeting discussing the data view on an Office for Students (OfS) consultation. It was interesting to see where work is needed to be done and what we, as a University, are doing well. 

Next up was the 50th Steering Group. We discussed the ideas for September, Podcast guests, Fundraising, merchandise, and the new achievements video. 

Thursday

I started with a meeting discussing how I use various activities to recharge me in my role. It was a really interesting discussion. 

Senior Team is when all the senior leaders in the OU get together and hear about what is going on University-wide; I always look forward to this. There were updates from Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor, Dave Hall, University Secretary, Directors of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and all of the faculties, before having an update from MarComms and PVC-Students Office on the OfS consultations. As Research Excellence Framework results were out on Thursday, we also had an update on those. I gave a brief update from the Students Association along similar lines to the update to Council. 

I then met with Heather Bloomer, head of DigiComms. We had a great discussion about elections.

My next meeting was my regular catch-up with Sue MacCabe. We discussed the OU Students Educational Trust and making a list of what I needed to do before I finish my term!

I then attended the Academic Conduct Review Steering Group and a discussion about a video I am helping to make for the Education, Childhood, Youth, and Sport Student Voice and Wellbeing team. 

Friday

I started my day with an end-of-the-week catch-up with Reiss where we discussed Fundraising and the podcast.

My next meeting was a discussion about a panel that I am taking part in soon. I am being asked about my experience of being a student in a pandemic and around digital inclusion. I am an Ambassador for the Digital Poverty Alliance, so this is a subject close to my heart.

My afternoon will consist of recording a voice-over for a video! So hopefully I can remember to speak clearly and have lots of soft furnishings around me because I have been told it helps to provide a better acoustic environment!

I know that EMA’s and exams are on people’s horizons, I hope that you all have a great weekend when you get to it and that if you are studying it goes well. I will be joining you on that one!! Good luck everyone!! We still have more painting to do but as I have a long weekend maybe we will be able to spread it out! 

Have a great weekend, see you on the other side, but until then, Go Well!!! 😊


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Sarah P Jones

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