We’ve launched a print magazine for Students in Secure Environments!

The Hoot SiSE Magazine has been developed as a way to include students studying in secure environments like prisons, in the OU Students Association community.

The Hoot is a brilliant way to communicate with students and to make them feel part of the community they’re in despite studying remotely, away from each other and the university. But as an online publication, it hasn’t been accessible to a small but important part of that community; our Students in Secure Environments (SiSE). These students are very often unable to access the internet and therefore The Hoot, and so the OU Students Association EDI & Student Welfare and Digital Communications Teams decided to take The Hoot directly to them in printed form. 

In December 2021, our SiSE Magazine team started the process of building a printed copy of The Hoot by meeting with the Open University’s Students in Secure Environments Team to discuss the requirements for this project. We were advised that we would need to meet certain requirements, such as removing names of students from articles, and editing articles to remove web links and content unsuitable or irrelevant to students in secure environments. We also learned that the magazine would have to be printed in black and white for security reasons. 

In February 2022, members of the Association EDI & Student Welfare team began the process of choosing articles from a selection of hundreds available on The Hoot. As the Hoot is a living online publication that’s updated regularly, while it wasn’t possible to replicate the full publication, we identified some of the most relevant and diverse articles to include.  

The Hoot provides a window into a wide range of topics, and we decided to replicate this in the printed version. We included articles from all the main headings in the regular Hoot, namely StudyingIdentityRepresentationLifestyle and Community. Just like with the regular Hoot, we wanted to include study and exam tips, personal development, and a mix of serious and more light-hearted stories. 

There are also two articles that are particularly relevant to SiSE students. Previously published in the regular Hoot, these articles haven’t until now been available to the very students that they’re perhaps most relevant to. So, there’s an article written by an OU graduate who studied while in prison, and another celebrating Library Study Volunteers, who remotely assist SiSE students with research they need to do but are largely unable to, again due to lack of internet access. 

Once a range of articles were chosen, the team started the lengthy process of editing and organising to build a printable copy of The Hoot. This was edited and designed on Canva by members of the Digital Communications team and then underwent several checks by Association team members and the Students in Secure Environments Student Additional Support team. 

A flatplan of a selection of pages from the magazine

From there we liaised with our colleagues in Learner & Discovery Services to organise for our finished magazine to be printed at the Open University’s warehouse and sent out to over 150 locations.  

To extend the aim of inclusion we’re also encouraging SiSE students to contribute to the Hoot, just as other students can and do, by including a prepaid envelope for them to submit their own handwritten articles. Any submissions we receive will be edited (where needed) and then uploaded to The Hoot for all to see. 

Each secure environment will receive a package including two magazine copies, a prepaid envelope, and a cover letter explaining the enclosed to the education department who will receive the package.  

We wanted the printed Hoot to achieve for SiSE OU students what the regular Hoot already does for other OU students; to make them feel included as part of the student community. 

You can download a PDF of the magazine from the OU students website.  

You can read the full, unedited versions of the articles included, below:

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The Open University Students Association exists to serve the interests of #OUstudents and ensure that the student voice is heard throughout the University. Find out more about what we do at oustudents.com