Officer Trustees 2016/17

Fintan's Goals

In August 2017, I went on a two-day residential workshop with the rest of the Officer Trustees, Imperial College Union's senior managers, and members of its Board of Trustees. There, each Officer Trustee used our manifestos, experience and the views of our peers to generate our own individual goals for the year, as well as a set of shared goals we would work towards as a team.

The next Deputy President (Welfare) is Becky Neil.
Becky will take up her role on 1 August 2018. Read her manifesto here.

My goals for 2017/18

Goal #1: Wellbeing strategy

Shared goal with Chippy, Union President

I think that every single student at Imperial would agree that this is a high-pressure environment. Fintan and I think that this isn't how Imperial has to be; too many academics and students have been tricked into thinking that being at a STEM institution somehow makes excessive stress and mental health difficulties inevitable.

It simply isn't true. And for too long, College has failed to recognise that the student mental health crisis - as demonstrated by Mentality a couple of years ago - is at least in part caused by factors here in South Kensington. It's the way courses are timetabled in a way that causes deadlines to clash, the unreliable personal tutor system, the waiting lists for student counselling, and even the pressure students place on themselves to perform highly all the time.

We are committed to making College generate and implement a far-reaching Wellbeing Strategy, that genuinely changes staff behaviour, funding decisions and wellbeing outcomes for all of our members. 

Progress we've made:
  • August - October
    • We approached the new Head of Student Support in College - a position created partly thanks to Imperial College Union - and floated the idea of a partnership between us and the College on a Wellbeing Strategy.
    • This was well-received and we started a series of regular meetings to push this project forward, raising it up College's priority list.
  • November
    • We began early drafts of a project brief for a Wellbeing Strategy similar in form to College's Learning & Teaching Strategy
    • Chippy began attending College's new Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Steering Group, with the aim of generating ideas and support for the Wellbeing Strategy
  • December
    • We had brainstorming sessions to flesh out a vision and draft objectives, which we shared with the College - they were received very well and have been factored into their own early drafts
    • We identified risks to the creation of the Wellbeing Strategy, such as the idea being dropped between Officer Trustee teams, and put measures in place to mitigate them
    • We contributed to College's Outreach and Student Recruitment Strategy, using ideas from our Wellbeing Strategy discussions
  • January
    • We are now having regular meetings with senior College staff on the Wellbeing Strategy
    • We have challenged College on data that suggests a race attainment gap
  • Next steps
    • We hope to be part of a presentation to Provost's Board, one of the most senior College committees, explaining jointly with College staff the rationale for the Wellbeing Strategy and the risks that College is taking by not implementing one
    • We hope to achieve high-level support and buy-in, hopefully including financial backing, from the highest levels of College for the Wellbeing Strategy project
Status: Excellent progress

Goal #2: Liberation review

Shared goal with Chippy, Union President

Have you ever wondered if Imperial College Union is really reflective of its diverse membership, in terms of ethnicity, gender, disability and sexuality? Well, Fintan & I have. While we have made good progress with Liberation & Community Officers in recent years, we look at other students' unions and see much higher levels of activity. The answer isn't "Imperial students aren't political" - that's just begging the question. We wanted to know what was actually happening. 

In 2017, Imperial College Union hired a consultant with expertise in the field of liberation and students' unions to review how we engaged diverse communities within our membership, and how we supported the officers elected to campaign on their behalf. After discussions with members, staff and officers, as well as research into how other students' unions operate, we received a Liberation Review that set out how Imperial College Union could radically improve its services in this area.

Progress we've made:
  • August - September
    • Got to know the Liberation & Community Officers, learning about their own priorities for the year ahead
    • Received the final Liberation Review Report in September
    • Liberation discussed at annual all-staff development day
  • October - November
    • Discussed the Report with Liberation Officers and staff to collectively create a detailed action plan
    • Started a Liberation Review Working Group to oversee the work created by this plan
  • December
    • Liberation Review promoted in Felix
    • Review recommendations factored into Education & Welfare Team planning
    • Liberation & Community Officers met Dean of Natural Sciences
  • January
    • Action plan condensed further from 100+ to 60+ actions
  • Next steps
    • Use the Working Group to execute the recommendations
    • Ensure that the recommendations are factored into staff budgeting for 2018/19
Status: Good progress

Goal #3: Wellbeing Representation Network

The Wellbeing Representation Network (WBRN) was announced in January 2017 at the launch of Our Strategy 2017-20 as a new initative, recognising the serious issues faced by many of our members. One of my priorities this year is to support the Network as it takes its first steps, ensuring that it is carefully planned and that Wellbeing Representatives are adequately supported and trained.

Progress I've made:
  • August-September
    • Support for the Network was gathered from across College, including the Vice Provost (Education)
    • Discussions were held with student representatives to recognise and assuage their legitimate concerns around the Network
    • The implementation plan was amended to reflect feedback from various stakeholdes
  • October
    • The Network was populated through the Autumn Elections 2017, which equalled our 2013 record for turnout and saw the highest number of individual voters for an October election cycle. 75% of WBRN roles were elected, with the vacancies to be filled through a follow-up set of offline elections where possible.
    • The mandatory training programme began
  • November
    • 78/80 Wellbeing Reps attended training; the final two were removed from their roles as per our policy and agreement with Constituent Unions
    • I personally attended 80% of those training sessions
    • The first faculty-level wellbeing staff-student committees began to meet, chaired by me
  • December
    • The first 'wins' for the WBRN began to emerge, such as changes to personal tutor systems and the creation & funding of a community-building programme within a department.
  • January
    • The faculty-level staff-student committees meet for the second time
    • Every single Wellbeing Rep Team (the Reps within a particular department) has had a one-to-one support meeting with the Wellbeing & Campaigns Coordinator
  • Next steps
    • The WBRN Term One Evaluation has been completed and will be discussed by the Board of Trustees and senior staff
    • The second generation of Wellbeing Departmental Representatives are being elected in the Leadership Elections 2018
    • We will begin to plan the second full year of the Network and consider the feasibility of expanding it to our Postgraduate members
Status: Excellent progress

My reports to Union Council

Each Officer Trustee is expected to send an update of their work and achievements to Union Council, the representative body made up of Imperial's student leaders. 

The next Deputy President (Welfare) is Becky Neil.
Becky will take up her role on 1 August 2018. Read her manifesto here.