Hello there wonderful students of The Open University!
I’m Verity Robinson and I’m the Head of Equality, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI) and Student Welfare at the Students Association – yep, a real mouthful! I recently hosted our podcast, the Association Conversation Station for its October edition, which was all about inclusion and diversity and I promised to write a Hoot article to go along side it, to tell you a bit more about what we at the Students Association do for students in these areas.
To give you an idea about what myself and my team do, we are aligned with the Vice President Student Support and the Vice President EDI and, as well as supporting them and their manifesto priorities, we also manage and administrate the various services and activities that come under their remits.
Support Groups – the Disabled Students Group, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Group and OU Pride (if you’ve listened to the podcast you will have heard this month from Laura of the Disabled Students Group and Sristi from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Group, and Lyndsay from OU Pride previously featured in the June episode).
Peer Support – our student peer-to-peer service where our student volunteers are on hand to help OU students through almost any aspect of student life! If you’d like to learn more about Peer Support or get in touch, all the information you need is on our website.
Library Study Volunteers – our support service for Students in Secure Environments (SiSE) where incarcerated students can make library research requests that our trained student volunteers perform on their behalf. If you’d like to read more about this service the Library wrote a Hoot article celebrating our 300th request earlier this year.
Individual Representation – did you know we now have a service that can help you if you get into a spot of bother with the OU (such as helping you appeal an allegation of academic misconduct), or support you if you’d like to raise a complaint with the OU? A service vital to students, though of course we hope you’ll never need it! We also have a Student Advice and Representation Hub on our website that has lots of handy information as well as info on the service itself.
Student Insight sessions – you may have seen these advertised in the past, but you should hopefully see them back soon after a summer hiatus. These are interactive student sessions where we explore a particular EDI-related topic and find out what it means for the students in the room, and any effects on their study or engagement with the Association.
As well as the above, there are a number of internal organisational processes that we have in place to ensure we are continuously striving to improve in this area. We have an EDI Strategy as well as an EDI Working Group. Our new Student Leadership Team have also just made EDI and Accessibility one of their collective priorities, so we are working on how to manage these in parallel.
If you would like to know more about the work we do you’re always welcome to contact me or the team on firstname.lastname@example.org. I wish you all the best of luck on your study journeys!