Cold comforts and Councils – Kevin McStravock (President) November Blog

Good morning/afternoon/evening (delete as appropriate) everybody and as we approach the festive break, may I wish you a Merry Christmas!

Provost of Belfast and Jordanstown Prof Folli at the Big Build Breakfast Event

The last month has went by like a flash and as my alliterative title suggests, was heavily focused on council with two Student Council meetings and one University Council meeting. More on the former later in the blog – University Council meanwhile is the highest body within the university and oversees the wider strategy of the university, ensuring also that the university is financially and legally compliant. As President of the Students’ Union, I sit as the student member of the board alongside a mix of internal and external members who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. The November meeting was held in Coleraine and UUSU were fortunate to be able to host a lunch for Council members before the meeting, which gave all staff and student officers the opportunity to meet the members of council. This was hugely successful, and all council members left with full stomachs and a little bit more knowledge of the inner workings of the Student’s Union.


One of the main points of discussion stemming from Council was something I addressed at various points throughout the month – the adjustment of timescales within the Greater Belfast Development with a new move in time of 2020/21 academic year. Although disappointing for students who thought they would be finishing their degree on a new campus, this extended period will hopefully give the university more time to ensure all core needs have been addressed in the transition plan. We helped to communicate this to students through a Big breakfast event held in the Jordanstown campus. I participated in discussion on the move alongside the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Chief Operating Officer, Interim Director of Campus Life and the Provost for the campus. UUSU will be continuing the conversation on the new campus over the next few years – with plans to include Senior Officers at key UUSU fora next semester. If you’ve any burning questions on the move, drop an email to me or the Vice President of either Belfast or Jordanstown.


November held host to two Student Councils with the first at the beginning seeing the election of our new Chair, Deputy Chair, our student Senate members and several sub committees of the Council. Congratulations to all of those elected – it was great to see so many putting themselves forward for further leadership positions within UUSU. The second Council meeting, held towards the end of November was a much more policy focused meeting with a host of policies being passed including Quiet Rooms, further promotion of Mental Health services and supporting the provision of free or discounted sanitary products. This meeting also afforded us the opportunity to try out the university’s Immersive Videoconference suites. If you haven’t yet experienced them, imagine walking into the United Nations and you’re not far off.


Last but not least was my ultimate highlight of the month – the big Sleep out. The six officers and I decided to punish ourselves by sleeping in Writers Square as part of the SOS Bus Sleep out. As well as raising money for a very worthy cause (The SOS Bus work on the streets offering support and aid to the most vulnerable within society), it also gave us an insight into what those without a roof over their heads often have to experience on a daily basis. I'd been wanting to do this since I was elected into the Students Union last July so I'm beyond thrilled to have had the opportunity to take it on. I retired to bed the next day feeling very appreciative of what I have.

It fits very nicely into the Homelessness Awareness campaign that we're currently running – you can donate to the SOS Bus here or participate in the Foodbank collections taking place on your campus. Christmas can be a tough season on the wallet, but every donation makes a difference.

That’s all from me – Merry Christmas from all at UUSU!

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