Vice President Services
Jenna Kelly

 

 

I oversee the services Edinburgh University Students' Association provides to students, including the events, shops, and bars in our four student union buildings (Teviot, Potterrow, The Pleasance, King's Building House). I also work to make sustainability and ethical responsibility central to our services, and manage the Students' Association's commercial interests.

 

Email me at vps@eusa.ed.ac.uk

  • Wed 22 Feb 2017 12:13

     

    Student housing is a minefield of tragedies and traumas. Rent levels, dodgy contract clauses and illegal fees; to name but a few minor issues. While we can’t fix them all at once, they will not go away if we don’t continue to chip away, concern by concern.

     

    In Edinburgh, the price of accommodation is a particular problem faced by the student population. The capital city gives platform to jumping increases year on year, and with a centrally located campus, anything south of £450 a month is a needle in a rather metaphorical haystack. Students have been seen to work extremely hard to eradicate the consequences of wallet-draining rents, and year by year small progressions are made.

     

    This year, the University of Edinburgh agreed to consider a new pricing model for their residences, to highlight what affordable provisions are already in place, and where improvements need to be made. An 80% increase in ‘affordable rents’ was achieved for 17/18. This, whilst being a huge win for students, is not the end. The ultimate goal of having 25% affordable rents is not the current state, and when it is, how do we ensure that those most in need are allocated this cheaper accommodation? There is a wider picture to consider, especially when broaching the bigger, badder world of private sector renting. What this achievement does show, is that when students come together, positive change can happen.

     

    This is why we have created the Student Housing Summit. Scottish students have great things to say, and are always enthusiastic about acting to solve the troubles that affect them most. 25th February, Stirling University, come one come all* to construct a collective brain on how to fix student housing in the long term.

     

    *There are limited spaces, so don’t come ‘all’ but make sure you register so that you get your seat and your lunch reserved!

     

     

  • Fri 25 Nov 2016 12:34

    Ever get told you’re wearing too much make-up or feel like you should be wearing more? 


    Keep pulling your skirt down because it’s too short or worry what people will think when it’s too long? 


    Feel self-conscious when you’re not wearing a bra (especially when it’s a cold day)?


    Thought you were out of place for not wearing heels or caught people staring at your stilettos?


    Chosen the long-sleeved option to hide your arms or shied away from wearing a crop top because of you belly?


    Felt torn between femininity and masculinity, neither of which feels quite right?


    Rolled your eyes at the phrase ‘resting bitch face’ (more like resting BOSS face) or wanted to scream when a stranger tells you to “cheer up” for the tenth time that day?

     


    I have. And there’s a (slim) chance that I’m way off here, but I would take a stab at saying that many of you women and non-binary people reading have experienced the same, or similar, sentiments. We go through this emotional rollercoaster because of what others think – too much makeup in whose eyes? Who’s thinking about your visible breast outline? Is that group of people judging you based on your shoe choice?


    It’s bizarre really. That others can be offended by, or consumed enough to make a comment on some foundation, acne, a thigh, or – GOD FORBID, A NIPPLE. (This one gets me the most, everyone has nipples, some people have 3 nipples, why are women’s nipples offensive, so offensive that they’re not allowed on social media - will always make time for further discussion on this for whoever wishes).


    Sometimes we seek the opinion of others. In these situations, their responses are appreciated, lack of response would be pretty frustrating if we’d actively sought it. But that’s the issue – why do we feel the need to ask for opinions? Is it for validation, for confirmation that your choices are sound, is it because we like presenting ourselves well, or is it because we want to ensure that we are blending with what other members of our society think?


    Really, the problems are many and complex, we are in a vortex of confusion and at the end of the day we should do whatever the hell WE want – wear 100 layers of eyeliner and dress all in black for the rest of your life, cover your body in tattoos of aliens and never wear heels for as long as you live, go to your meeting in shocking pink lipstick and those ‘masculine’ (eugh) trousers. 


    Maybe you could even ditch the bra and wear transparent tops on occasion. From experience, I can vouch for this and the feeling of empowerment it gives you. And I speak on behalf of everyone when I permit you to rudely gesture to the first person who tuts in the direction of your chest. WORK IT.
     

  • Thu 22 Sep 2016 17:21

    ...and this applies to art students, medical students, business students, engineering students, law students, divinity students, social anthropological students, language students and every other possible discipline of student out there.

     

    I came to university to have a degree under my belt, to have something to fall back on if all my other plans failed. I came to the University of Edinburgh to have an internationally reputable degree under my belt, to namedrop my educator if all my other plans failed.

    This is not the right reason to choose higher education or more importantly, to choose your provider of higher education. You ultimately end up realising that life is about more than getting good grades, going to a Russel Group university and being offered £100k a year for a graduate job in one of the Big Four. There’s health, there’s happiness, there’s social fulfilment and there’s time to be given to those in need.

    But whilst my stream of thought wasn’t quite there, I was onto something. Being employed after acquiring a degree isn’t what everyone wants, and it certainly isn’t guaranteed. Some want to engage in further study, some have a desire to start their own business, some want to travel or volunteer abroad. But being employable is pretty important for future proofing,

    Note – employed, employable; different.

     

    An article popped up on my Newsfeed a few weeks back, called ‘These 10 Skills are Great Ones to have on your Resume Right Now’ (Resume = CV, in case an explanation is needed).  These skills included Adobe Photoshop, speaking a language, Google Analytics, SEO, public speaking, Microsoft Office, product management and WordPress.

    We have the platform to learn every one of these skills at university; we just need to dedicate a little time to ourselves and our own self-development. We need to be curating our CVs and giving ourselves multiple responses to choose from when asked interview questions about our skills and abilities. Languages can be learnt as an optional course during our studies, tutorials are available on YouTube for public speaking. The 280+ societies can give you skills in anything from starting a social enterprise to sign language. Many employable skills are also embedded in the content of your courses, and this is the long-term aim for every single course at the University of Edinburgh.

    For those of you who don’t know about it yet, Lynda.com is LinkedIn’s relatively new website with over 4000 online skills courses. As a University of Edinburgh student, you have FREE access to this. There is a 4 hour Google Analytics essentials course, there’s a 6 hour course on WordPress. There’s a 45 minute course on ‘Happiness Tips’.

     

    I’ll hark back to what I said at the start – we need to know how to give a 10/10 presentation as well as knowing how to keep ourselves happy and healthy. So try to align, and even incorporate, these priorities with the task of boosting your skillset.

     

    Find out about your access to Lynda here: http://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/help-consultancy/is-skills/lynda

     

  • Thu 08 Sep 2016 16:54

     

    [Do I mean Freshers’ Week Volunteers? No – we are no longer the EUSA Freshers’ Week. We are officially Edinburgh University Students’ Association Welcome Week. Takes a few more seconds out of your day to say, I am happy to reimburse these seconds on a receipt-return-type-system.]


    Welcome Week 2016 is two days away, and it just wouldn’t happen without volunteers.  


    Volunteering isn’t easy. Why?


    -    You’re not paid
    -    You don’t necessarily know anyone that you’re volunteering with
    -    You often have to deal with upset students in difficult circumstances
    -    You might be eating into time that could be spent on pre-course reading or deadlines.
    -    You might be missing socializing with friends before the first day of classes land on your doorstep. 
    -    I’m making it sound miserable. Sorry.


    No-one would do it if it was all bad. There are millions of perks like making friends and helping people and (this shouldn’t be the sole reason but…) volunteering is proven to boost CV points. However these benefits aren’t an excuse to forget thanking the 100 or so students who give up their time at such a thriving point in the year. They’re unequivocally awesome. I was the volunteer coordinator in 2013, so I can vouch. 


    I met up with 2016’s volunteers to tell them about representation and the Students Association in general. They’re about to go on an eight day adventure helping thousands of new students navigate their way through a new city, potentially new country and completely new way of life. They’re all wearing bright yellow T-Shirts, so if you pass a human Students' Association branded sun, give ‘em a thank you and a pat on the back.  


    NB – They’re even more incredible for taking part in our #standup campaign (see coloured signs in photo – apologies for illegibility), which highlights a year ahead of supporting issues of affordable student housing, welcoming EU students, sustainability, access to education for all and liberation on campus. 
     

  • Fri 15 Jul 2016 10:35

    We plastered our faces around campus for a week and now we're representing you. But do you know know what we do?

     

    Who are we?

    The sabbatical officer team. Alec, Jess, Pat and Jenna. Representatives, trustees, company directors, activists. Students, graduates, full-time employees. Brothers, sisters, friends, flatmates. People.

     

    We have a responsibility as sabbatical officers, to best represent the (very diverse) views of 35,000 students. We are held personally and financially liable for the direction which Edinburgh University Students’ Association takes. We regularly stand in front of university senior management, court members and external officials to fight for positive change for our members; and we do all this with passion and commitment. But we are also people, people who don't get everything right and people who don't always know what they’re doing. We have lives outside our roles, we have family and friends we spend time with. We take holidays and go out at the weekend and talk about things other than the hot topics in student politics. That doesn't mean we lack interest or drive, it just keeps us sane.

     

     

    What do we do?

    The million dollar question. While our roles overlap in many areas, they are still vastly different. I personally have a pretty packed diary, between meetings with students, liberation convenors, academic reps, university officials, the Students’ Association staff and externals, conferences, training, interviewing, committee attendance and the odd panini photoshoot. I'm spending a third of my time working on my manifesto, a third of my time working on other projects that came with the role (or will come to me throughout the year), and a third of my time on committee and board related work. While I'd love to get every manifesto policy ticked off, that may not happen - there are very real time and budget constraints. I spend a large portion of my time writing emails and creating a seemingly ever-growing to-do list. But all of these meetings and emails and lists and boards and conferences crystallise into WINS, for us and for all of you. I'll drink to that.

     

    Where do we reside?

    We reside physically and digitally. You can find us through the big glass doors at the back of Potterrow, or on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. We might be away at a conference or visiting another students’ union to steal their best practices, but if we're in the office come and say hello. We see everything that goes down on social media, and so if you're unhappy about something we'd much rather you come and speak to us about it so we can figure it out together. You're also very much welcome to come in and tell us if you're happy about something – we like those kinds of visits.

     

    Why do we do it?

    Beside the glaringly obvious reason being that we are passionate about representing students’ needs, I have a few others that motivated me to run in an exhausting and very scrutinising week-long job interview – 10 days before my dissertation was due...

     

    First: I had a bloody great four years. I won't deny that. Everything wasn't rosy by ANY means, but that helped shape me. Bring on the tough times. I want to help other students have the same experience, and be able to leave Edinburgh with good things to say.

     

    Second: I've worked for the Students’ Association since first year, watched sabbs at work, and was inspired by their ability to use the power given to them by students to make change, mostly for the better.

     

    Third: A lot of my close friends had things they wanted changed, implemented, or done differently during their time at uni, but didn't feel like they belonged to the students’ association or could voice their views. This perspective is clearly a widespread problem, election turnout being our evidence. I want to make sure that everyone feels able to speak up, or get involved in whatever capacity they wish. It's not an exclusive students association, it's for every single one of our members no matter what they have to say.

     

    When do we do it?

    One answer is 9:30 - 5:30 Monday to Friday. The other is 24/7. I never stop checking my emails, I never stop thinking about ways around policies or alternative solutions to problems. For my own wellbeing I'm trying to eradicate that so if I don't reply to your Facebook comment at 11pm, it's because I'm looking after myself.

 

Objective 1 To facilitate our students being interactive members in the community

Why? Because we are obliged not only to engage with and contribute positively to our communities, but also to enhance each member's skills and real world experiences.
How? Develop short term and long term strategies for more inclusive and accessible transportation links, on campus and off.
Encourage more students to become involved in social enterprise and volunteering.
Facilitating teams for city sporting events such as Edinburgh Marathon, Meadows Marathon, Colour Run, Tough Mudder.
 

 

Objective 2 To establish a culture of social responsibility and sustainability

Why? Because we have a duty as a local, national and global institution to act in a sustainable manner socially, economically and environmentally
How? Develop a sustainable investment strategy.
Organise a Green Festival citywide alongside working on tangible outcomes - ethical food waste disposal, plant-a-tree scheme, recycling facilities in all buildings.
Aid Edinburgh Student Housing Co-op in expanding and refurbishing existing premises.

 

 

Objective 3 To implement a broader offering of healthy and active options for students

Why? Because we are here to take care of students' physical and mental health

How? A salad bar within a Students Association venue.
Explore options for extended hours at KB Advice Place.
Later opening hours for Centre for Sport and Exercise and more inclusive sporting activities.