VP (Welfare) February update

VP (Welfare) Jack McGuinness here to give you some updates on the work that's been going on!

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Vice President (Welfare) Jack McGuinness talking to a student at freshers' fair.

Hi everyone, I’m Jack McGuinness, the Vice President (Welfare). With the first month of 2024 been and gone, I wanted to give you an update on some of the work that’s been going on to the benefit of students.

LGBTQ+ History Month

The first liberation month of the calendar year is LGBTQ+ History month, a time to reflect on the experiences of the past, with ambition to offer the same experience.

Running up to the start of February, myself and the other Executive Officers – Dom, Holly and Gabby – met with the Director of Student and Academic Services, Jo Cooke, and discussed the possibility of preferred names for student ID cards.

As part of the collaborative role with the University of Derby, the LGBTQ+ Equality Network, which is for staff and Officers to come together surrounding the LGBTQ+ community’s experience at Derby, I’ve developed a form to gather LGBTQ+ student’s experience. If you would like to share your experience, fill in this form https://forms.office.com/e/nvtTCjK3An .

Community Pantry

After a huge and successful campaign from the Nursing and Midwifery Officer, the 2022-2023 Gender Officer, and committee members of the Nursing Society, which resulted in the most votes in the history of the Union of Students to date, I investigated the ability to implement the idea.

It’s great to say that the Community Pantry has officially been implemented.

If you or anyone you know may need to access the services, ask at the Info point at the Union of Students at Kedleston Road.

Situations that can make students having to access these services can result in a variety of different struggles on top of financial, which I was also concerned about. The Union of Students Advice service can help students, providing advice on a variety of different topics. You can book in with the service online Help and Advice // Union of Students (derbyunion.co.uk) or in-person at the Info Point at Ked.

Freedom of Speech Legislation

The Office for Students did research in 2022 on students’ thoughts and feelings of being able to express their opinions at university. As a result of finding that one in seven students in England feel they cannot express their opinions, the UK Government developed the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act, making UK universities take reasonable measures to ensure all students, staff and visitors can voice their views.

As the Executive Officer responsible for representing all things wellbeing and welfare, I have been working as part of a Task and Finish group with the University of Derby, to review the legislation and how it will affect the student experience.

On top of how it applies to the University, the legislation also applies to the Union of Students as well. And taking this approach, I’ve been developing a Freedom of Speech policy for the Derby Union of Students to outline and show how it applies to the UoS as a separate entity to the University.