Vice President Societies & Activities
Jess Husbands

 

 

I am here to represent you on issues of welfare, equality and diversity, and activities (e.g. societies and volunteering groups). Remember that the Students' Association's Advice Place is there to help you if you're struggling. To see some of the things the other officers and I have been working on this year on your behalf, visit our #eusawins page. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any queries.


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

  • Tue 14 Feb 2017 09:27

     

     

    Why I stood:

     

    So maybe you’ve seen (and promptly ignored) an email or two about some elections or something. I know, right; we’ve had enough of elections lately. So why not get involved and try and make sure this one goes well?

     

    About a year ago, I was at the Sports Union ball sipping table wine to my heart’s content*, having sneakily bagged a VIP ticket well done me. In chatting to the girl next to me, she told me she was a Sabbatical Officer for EUSA. We chatted more and she told me what that actually entailed, and I pretty much thought ‘yeah, that sounds cool’. She went on to tell me about the roles in the rest of the team, including the role of a well-dressed guy sitting across from us, and I thought, ‘no, that sounds cool’.

     

    I woke up 12 ish hours later, with a far lower blood alcohol level, and still thought that being a sabbatical officer sounded like a great opportunity. So I did it.

     

    Moral of this small anecdote? Don’t worry if you haven’t had your heart set on running for a position for months or years; if you like the sound of it, go for it.

     

    *please drink responsibly.

     

    Reflections on the job so far:

     

    Fortunately, I wasn’t wrong about this being a great opportunity. If you like being chucked in the deep end and learning by doing, then this is for you. I can’t express quite how much this role is about learning as you go along, and as a result my confidence has absolutely shot up.

     

    It’s an incredible opportunity to create real change on both a micro and macro level. Every day I get queries from individual students on everything from how to set up a society to what to do about having experienced sexual harassment. Things like that might only affect one student at a time, but that help they receive is often invaluable. On the other end of the scale, things like encouraging the university to create a participation grant for low income students, or sitting on the panel of the disability review to ensure that the University properly supports disabled students can affect hundreds, if not thousands of people.

     

    Why you – yes, you – should consider running:

     

    I think I’ve highlighted above why it’s such a good opportunity, but just to reiterate: going from being a student to sitting in a meeting with people earning triple what you are and them listening to your opinion? That’s pretty special.

     

    And just to go back to all that change you can enact… Think about everything you’ve complained about in the last four years; this is your chance to change that!

     

    A couple FAQs:

     

    Do I need to be in final year to run?

     

    No. You can be in any year. There are advantages to both – on one hand, if you’re in final year then you’ll have had longer to experience the University, and therefore know what you want to change about it. On the other hand, having friends still in the uni while you’re in the job can be really useful. Not to mention you’re not trying to write a dissertation whilst campaigning… So either way, think about it!

     

    How will I know what I can change? What is realistic?

     

    Excellent question. The reality is that before getting into the role, it’s very hard to know what can be changed or how you’d go about changing it. My best advice would be to come and talk to one of the current sabbatical officers or Students’ Association staff members. We can give you insight into how feasible something is. But it’s also important to remember that there are always other ways of doing something. We might say something is incredible difficult, but who knows you might manage it anyway! Or you might get halfway to managing it, and improve students’ lives in the process. Or you might find something else you can change that will achieve the same objective. (Just start by contacting us for a chat).

     

    Conclusion

     

    Inspired? Unsure but want to know more? Excellent, get in contact with me or one of the other sabbs via facebook or email (eusavpsa@ed.ac.uk). We are v nice and don’t bite and just want to encourage democratic processes wahoo.

     

    p.s.

     

    Also, remember that there’s more than just sabbatical positions on offer! I’ll be doing a blog post shortly about the shiny new role of ~Activities Reps~, and more info about all of the positions can be found here: https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/representation/elections/elections2017/positions/

     

     

  • Mon 13 Feb 2017 16:20

     

    There are new Activities Rep roles up for election and you should be excited!

     

    Being part of a society was one of the best things about being at university for me, and it is for many others. In fact, 21,000 students at Edinburgh University are members of at least one society. That’s a pretty compelling reason right there to ensure that societies can function to the best of their ability.

     

    I am therefore super excited to report that this year’s Students’ Association elections will include 14 shiny new positions called Activities Reps.

     

    Currently, societies and volunteering groups are represented and regulated by two bodies: Societies Council and Volunteering Council. But moving forward, they’ll be represented by Activities Exec. The main change to note is that Activities Exec will be comprised of the 14 Activities Reps, of which one will represent each category of societies.  

     

    [Categories = e.g. Academic, Artistic & Creative, Media & Broadcasting, Political, etc. Also worth noting that from now on, Volunteering Groups will be a category within societies. But don't worry, no change to how they run or are supported.]

     

    This is all sounding pretty bureaucratic but, I promise, it’s really exciting.

     

    Why?

     

    1. Having 1 rep for each category of society means that societies will be far better represented at Activities Exec, as each rep only has to get the opinions of each society they represent, rather than having the daunting task (that members of societies council do currently) to represent all ~250 societies,
    2. This improved representation will have endless benefits. Every category of society had such different needs; e.g. Faith societies need very different support and training to Dance societies. But thus far, this has been difficult to coordinate with only 2 members of staff looking after societies and no channels of filtered communication. These new reps provide that. They will have an overview of all the societies in their categories and so will be able to assess what specific support is needed.
    3. Putting an extra layer of representation and governance between society presidents and Activities Office staff means it will be easier to contact societies about opportunities that are relevant to them.
    4. This extra layer also means greater opportunities for inter-society collaboration (something I love!).
    5. Activities Reps will have a voice on student council, along with a weighted vote to reflect their mandate. This will mean societies are far better represented in the wider Students’ Association democratic processes.
    6. And finally, this new position will be a great opportunity to progress on to VP Activities and Services – it’s the perfect experience!

     

    I hope I’ve convinced you that these new positions will be GREAT. If you’re involved in societies and would like to stand to be an Activities Rep, go for it! If you’re interested but would like some more info, contact me on Facebook (Jess Husband Vpsa) or via email (eusavpsa@ed.ac.uk). And if you know someone who you think would be great at this role, encourage them to stand!

     

    I mean, it’s for the greater good.

     

    Nominate yourself here.

     

     

  • Tue 31 Jan 2017 17:06

     

     

    Trust me, I'm you

     

    To Grace, my favourite human.

     

    It doesn't matter if you don't fully understand. Appreciate some things are just a mystery. Also, embrace your natural hair - most people actually like it. Stay strong, don't be afraid to cry, you got dis.

     

    From Grace, your favourite human.

     

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    Dear Fifteen-year-old Me

     

    Dear Fifteen-year-old me,

     

    I won’t tell you not to worry, because I know that worrying is just in your nature. To be honest, I’m worried about a lot of things right now. But I can tell you that it will get better. Now don’t get your hopes up too high just yet. Because it won’t get better right away. You’ve got to work if you want to be happy. But I do have some good news. Remember those boys who called you names and fat-shamed you? One of them will change schools in about six months and the rest will be too scared of you to keep it up. I still don’t know how you pull it off, but you get really intimidating in a couple months. Just know that they don’t matter. You’ll find the courage to read a poem you wrote out loud in front of hundreds of students. And it will be one of the best decisions of your life so far, because it means you’ll meet some of the most wonderful people you’ve ever met. I won’t tell you how yet, because that should be a surprise. You’ll come to a point where you’ll question what seems like every decision you’ve ever made. But it’ll turn out ok, I promise. At that point, you’ll be surrounded by people who love you and care about you and genuinely want you to be happy. And no, I still don’t know how you get so lucky with them. Here’s the best advice I can give you. Stop being so hard on yourself. It doesn’t do anyone any good and it only makes you miserable. I know it’s hard, but you have to learn to love yourself. To stop beating yourself up every time you make a mistake. To stop thinking that you aren’t worth it. That you’re ugly, fat, stupid. Because you’re not. You are worth it. Learning to love yourself will be the most important thing you do in these next four years. It may also be one of the hardest. But once you do it, you’ll be so much happier. And don’t try to be someone you’re not. That’ll just make you miserable. Oh, and don’t be so weird about cutting your hair. Short looks great on you.

     

    Love, Nineteen-year-old you

     

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    Life sucks, and that's okay

     

    Hey there little 'un,

     

    At 14 your world is gonna turn itself upside-down. You won't know how to react, or who you can talk to, or quite what it all means, but then it's gonna pick up for a while - you'll make new friends, and join a youth club, and for a while it'll be nice. Brace yourself.

     

    At 16 it gets worse. You think your world is going to end in just a few months, and that there's nothing anyone can do except watch the disease destroy your mum, while the chemo makes her even sicker than she can cope with. Hold on. You'll meet a boy, you'll start canoeing (even though you're scared of water), and your mum will still be there. They'll give her a new medicine, and although she'll end up in hospital for a while, she's still fighting.

     

    At 18, you'll get a new house, your boyfriend will move in with you, you'll learn to drive, you'll have three jobs, and you'll think you can't cope (again). But it's not as bad as it was.

     

    At 19, you and your boyfriend will go to uni, hundreds of miles apart, and your mum will be crying when she leaves you at your halls. You'll be scared at first, just like everyone else, but after a while you'll feel more at home than you ever have before. You'll make friends who understand that you've been through hell, and that clubbing really isn't your thing, and they will still love you for who you are.

     

    At 21, you'll finally make it through to second year (after a few hiccups along the way), and you'll have even closer friendships than you ever thought possible. Hold onto them. You'll become a leader, as well as a team member, and you'll pioneer a campaign to help people like you get into uni.

     

    At 22, you'll be sat here on your bed, still stressing about uni, your flatmates, your mum, your boyfriend, and everything else you're doing - and you'll wonder why on earth you did this; but you'll know that no matter how awful your life has been, or will be, you'll still come out the other side (hopefully still with that boy you met when you were 16, except you'll be married by then). Life is difficult. But you love it. After all, you wouldn't be you otherwise.

     

    Love and hugs,

     

    22 year-old me.

     

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    Changes

     

    Stephanie,

     

    I'm 20 now, it's 2017 - a year you didn't think you would live to see. 5 years ago, at 15, everything seemed difficult: you couldn't do quadratic equations; science didn't make sense; art required more work and energy than you thought you were capable of producing, despite how much you loved it; you couldn't understand how you couldn't quite connect with the vast majority of people. You wanted what you could never get - a fictional, controllable life. I want to tell you that in five years, none of these things have changed. Reaching adulthood has made things worse if anything - financial responsibility, remembering to throw your milk out in time, setting yourself study timetables that you stick to. Being 20 is as hard and painful as it was being 15, but the sense of disconnect has ramped up tenfold.

     

    Being 20 is no different from 15: you still cut, you still lock yourself away for hours on end, you still cry when you knock something over on your desk at 4am when you have a presentation coming up at 9am, you still drink to calm down. It's no different - It's not better. But you're coping. You're living in the decade you always wanted to reach, and it's amazing. You still have friends that love you, you're still doing what you love. You're still alive, and for once you love it.

     

    It wasn' t the world that had to change - it was your perspective.

     

    It can happen, and it will.

     

    Stephanie

     

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    Just keep swimmin'

     

    Hey young me, you may look cute now but you're gonna look great when you're older!

     

    In all serious, I know you're worrying about not feeling good enough, and I just want to say that although that negative voice doesn't magically disappear, you will learn to counter it with another voice that can say shut up to your anxiety and self-worth issues. You will go on to get into a brilliant University and that will begin your amazing career, so don't be too hard on yourself! I also want to encourage your self-exploration of gender identity and that discovering who you are is not a black and white destination, but a journey. You don't have to fit into any box or category in life, or fit into what other people embody. Don't worry so much about where you're going or how you will get there; chasing your dreams takes time and ultimately it isn't a competition, so don't feel pressured to be better than anyone else. The trick is to lay off comparing yourself to other people and focus on you; mentally, physically, socially. Learning to embrace your vulnerability isn't weakness, it's strength. So surround yourself with people who get that and who love you and you'll grow and prosper into an amazing, talented individual.

     

    Worrying about life and your career and aspirations won't stop, in fact I still struggle with them now. But at least you will learn the mentality that everything works out in the end, and if it hasn't worked out, it isn't the end.

     

    Much love, your older self, Finn x

     

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    Adulting is hard, but we can eat pizza without asking mum, which is good

     

    Dear 13-year-old me,

     

    I was about to start with an if-I-were-you-advice and just realised, I am you. So I guess this will be pretty effective. You're probably going to do whatever it is that you really care about so don't think too much about the guilt part of things. It is not okay to sneak in that alcoholic drink in but we're going to do it anyway, so lets not beat ourselves over it. And I know the 'what you want to be in life' part of things will hit us soon but don't overthink it. Perhaps being a film director will not be the topmost thing in the agenda. All I'm saying is keep an open mind. Organising time and your (our) emotional reaction to things can be challenging but that needs to be done. Trust me, when you know you have allotted yourself a good 8 hours for nothing but movie marathons and pizza, it becomes way more fun than doing it guiltily the night before an exam. Moving to Edinburgh will be hard but hey, we still have movie marathons and pizza time. Also, don't stress things out too much, I need to stress this. Every little thing's gonna be alright.

     

    Love,

     

    Your equally confused adult version

     

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    A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF

     

    This project is part of the Students' Association's Mental Health and Wellbeing Week. Inspired by the fact that we're often kinder and more patient with others than with ourselves, we're encouraging people to imagine themselves as a best friend or a sibling, and write a letter to their younger self to help them through the tough times. If you'd like to take part, you can do so here

  • Fri 27 Jan 2017 18:23

     

     

    You're my ally

     

    Dear younger self,

     

    Please don't speak to yourself in a way you would not accept someone else speaking to you. Please don't speak to yourself in a way you would never speak to someone else. You're your ally, you're my ally and you deserve to start acting like it.

     

    All the love and so much more,

     

    J

     

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    I am not the same person now as when I first started University

     

    Dear me, 3 and a half years ago

     

    Looking back, you seem like an entirely different person. You think you know everything and have the world all sussed out. University will, of course, be easy. For your whole life thus far, you’ve been pretty much the brightest in your class. It was all so obvious; you’d go to uni, join some left-wing student societies, change the world, sleep with girls, and get your degree (it will be a First, no problem). And then…? Plans for after graduation don’t even occur to you. University is an exciting adventure, and “real life” is something adults have to deal with. Of course, you won’t be an adult for another 4 years, and that’s a lifetime away.

     

    For the first few weeks, university just feels like a dreamy never-ending holiday camp, filled with one-time friends you’ll probably never see again. But it slowly becomes becomes more real, and one day you realise that Edinburgh feels more like home than home does. This is despite (or maybe because of?) university being the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Your studies will start to bore you. You will feel constantly tired and overworked. You will do things, say things, you regret. And on more than one occasion, your picture of the world and how you fit into it will come crashing down. The world isn’t a safe place. You are not as smart as you think you are, and everything is uncertain. Your outward over-confidence is just an affection you put on because you think it will make people like you (really, parties can be so overwhelming that you have to pretend to use the toilet just to escape other people for 5 minutes). You are more than capable of acting immorally.

     

    This is scary, but that’s ok.

     

    University will mould you into a different, better person. You will learn to live independently. You will find friends you properly connect with, rather than merely tolerate (like the ones back home). You will learn what responsibility is, and find you like having it. You will learn to empathise with other people’s problems, and how yours pale in comparison. You will discover, to genuine surprise, that you like sport. You will become (more) emotionally mature – you’re introverted, and that’s fine! You will fall in love. You will become quite good at cooking. There will be some big bumps along the way (your antics in second year are best avoided, although it seems fun at the time), but you will eventually be happy with who you are as a person – and he is not who you think he is.

     

    It isn’t over for me yet - the dissertation looms large on my mind, so far unwritten. But, right now, I am simultaneously the happiest I have ever been, and the most worried I have ever been. University will teach you to accept and deal with that.

     

    All the best,

     

    You, 5 months away from graduation.

     

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    Through the Years

     

    I’d tell my 6 year old self to hold onto her smile and her energy and her happiness and her inquisitiveness.

     

    I’d tell my 7 year old self that one day she’ll wear skirts and dresses and kiss boys (and girls) and eat cooked meals and work in an office and she would be horrified but I’d tell her that it’s okay, she does all those things because she wants to.

     

    I’d tell my 8 year old self that despite what the doctors are telling her, she’ll grow to a normal height. In fact, she’ll stand proud at one-inch-above average height.

     

    I’d tell my 9 year old self that the Kurt Cobain phase is something she’ll look back on fondly.

     

    I’d tell my 10 year old self that she’s about to wear a skirt for the first time, and it goes up above the waist when you go to the loo, not down like trousers.

     

    I’d tell my 11 year old self to hang on to her love of languages. But also to think about where she actually wants to visit. There’s no point trying to learn a language if you don’t want to visit the country/ies that speak it.

     

    I’d tell my 12 year old self that shit is about to hit the fan. I’d tell her to brace herself, remember she’s fab, and press on.

     

    I’d tell my 13 year old self to please start using tampons. And please take some on that trip to Germany. And please don’t be embarrassed about buying them.

     

    I’d tell my 14 year old self that it doesn’t matter if you don’t fancy anyone in your class. You just don’t have those feelings, and that’s so much more than fine. If you feel the need to lie to your friends about having a crush so you feel like you fit in, go ahead, but try not to worry about it.

     

    I’d tell my 15 year old self to please, please, please stop going on diets. It’s normal at this age to be getting boobs and hips; you don’t need to stop eating because of it. You’re clever and ambitious and lively, your weight is the least important thing. [[Not to mention that you’re still pretty fucking tiny.]] Please realise now that food is energy, not an enemy; this will haunt you for years and looking back, I’d do anything to change that. You are wonderful (admittedly with dubious fashion sense right now) and obsessing over food will only take years of potential happiness from you.

     

    I’d tell my 16 year old self to accept that you’re not the same person you were three years ago, and that’s okay. You have to opportunity to grow and shape who you want to become. Seize it.

     

    I’d tell my 17 year old self to recognise how hard you’re working and try and get a good night’s sleep.

     

    I’d tell my 18 year old self that moving to Edinburgh is one of the best decisions you’re about to make. The city will fit you like a correctly sized bra and you’ll be able to breathe again. Try not to spend all of first year in your room; get out there.

     

    I’d tell my 19 year old self to focus on what your body can do, not what it looks like. Think about being at the top of the hill with the wind in your hair and your friends by your side. Live for that. And enjoy this year, because you can’t recreate it further down the line, however hard you try.

     

    I’d tell my 20 year old self that this is the hardest year of your life so far. That you’ll come out of it tanned and in shock that you got through it without “trying something stupid”. You’ll be fluent and disorientated and slightly broken. And that bad experiences don’t necessarily make you a better person, but you will return knowing more about your limits and how to look after yourself. And for fuck sake, eat like a normal person.

     

    I’d tell my 21 year old self to relax, hard as it is. And start writing your dissertation earlier. Most of all, don’t worry about the opinions of people who have no time for you. Listen to the people who love you.

     

    And now I’m asking my 22 year old self, the me that’s typing this out, can she please try and love herself as much every day as she does in this letter?

     

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    You won't live in the dark forever

     

    Dear Me,

     

    I know right now you're probably in bed, sleeping or crying or maybe listening to mum cry and shout about how she can't handle you being like this. I know in that moment you're beginning to wonder if she'd be better off without you. You're beginning to believe that your existence was just a cruel mistake made by the universe, and really you'd be setting things right if you just took yourself out of the equation. I know that right now those thoughts seem so incredibly rational and you feel them with every fibre of your being. But please know that, and I say this with so much love, you are wrong.

     

    You are deserving of existence, even happiness, and everything you're feeling right now will pass. You will make it out of that bed one day and begin to believe in your worthiness of love and friendship. It won't be an easy or even a short road. I won't lie to you and say that there aren't times our mind wanders into those darker corners, even now. But I can promise you that the darkness you're in right now is not where you will live forever.

     

    I've seen the light and it is beautiful.

     

    I've seen happiness and it is worth the time we spent in the dark.

     

    Thank you for everything you're about to do and go through because I wouldn't be here without it.

     

    Love, 

     

    You

     

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    It's tough but you'll love it

     

    Morning my younger self,

     

    New day - new you.

    I know things have been pretty tough recently.

    I know how it feels to wake up to the single thought in your head that appears the first moment your consciousness intertwines with reality.

    I know

    You don't have to tell me how quickly it disappears as soon as you realise that nothing has changed, and the pain is still there - hung over your bed.

    We all have experienced Groundhog Day.

    We all have seen no silver line in the thundercloud.

    Any attempt to doze off for some time lures you to doze off forever.

    Down by the mighty river of you tears trace the cluster of other broken hearts - the real Milky Way;

    It is okay to see freaky dreams that reflect your blue existence;

    I swear, it will not last forever.

    I promise, every morning that disappoints you know will be worth it.

    All you need to know - the end is always happy.

    Don’t you dare seek help: I beg you, make the mistakes you are about to make, and suffer as much as your nerve cells can handle.

    It will make your soul glitter.

    Heartache is a work of art.

     

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    Hey You,

     

    Hey you, if it's any reassurance at all you're still going to think you're psychic in a few years time. I woke this morning with words in mind for you and here there was this perfect opportunity. I want you to know that you may not see it now and you may not always see it here after but you are worth this; happiness, life. That little bit of guilt you carry for never being good enough? It's ok for it to be there, so long as you learn that it doesn't have to be and that you will get there. I believe that I'm worth the chance to believe in myself and you will too. Just hang on in there and reach out, it's the best thing I ever did for me. I believe in you. And thank you, for believing in me once too.

     

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    Thanks for being you even when it was hard

     

    Dear younger me,

     

    You were definitely a ‘No one understands me’ kind of teen. You’re still, from time to time, a ‘no one understands me’ kind of 20-year-old. You often found it hard to feel at home in groups of girls your age. And sometimes you still do. Not having common interests with your peers was often a source of worry. It’s stressful wondering if you’ll ever meet people who think the way you do, worrying that you’ll always be odd. I should tell you not to panic. There are loads of people who think like you and are passionate about what you are, you’ll find your niche. You should know I think one of the best things you’ve done though was not conforming. Being you and sticking with it was a great move. I still have moments of panic when I wonder who I am and who I’ll become. But I think it’s thanks to your conviction in yourself, that you didn’t need to be the same to be liked, that I have some solid foundations to build from. It’s easy to dismiss those years but they have undoubtedly given you your compassion, your empathy and your open mind. Being an outsider was the best lesson in kindness you could have had.

     

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    YO, mini-me. Stop sweating it.

     

    YO, mini-me

     

    Stop sweating it.

     

    Don't let that group of girls make you cry every Sunday night, in fear at school the next morning. Your step-siblings that make you feel like an intruder in your own home? They think they're making throwaway comments, so don't spend hours agonising over what they mean. Ignore them - your mum is your mum, your house is your house, you are loved. Those people in the common room probably aren't laughing at you because your new school shoes are a bit different from everyone else's. And if they are - LOL LOOK HOW MUCH EFFORT THEY'RE PUTTING INTO THINKING ABOUT YOU.

     

    Save your tears for times that matter. Save your mental energy for bettering yourself. Save everything you've got for you. Because whether you can imagine it or not, in 10 years time, you're going to have forgotten what any of your 'friends' names are, and you're going to be so bloody successful that those step-siblings will be reading about you in the papers.

     

    Tell em: "I don't care what you think of me, because I don't think about you at all." And mean it. (Cliched quotes are kind of annoying though so only say that internally).

     

    But also, please don't hate them all. Guaranteed have their own shit going on, family dramas; they're undervalued. They live life feeling as undermined as you do. You might not realise it now, but their way of projecting how they feel is to make you feel it too; your way of projecting how you feel is being upset, not spending time with people, losing out on happiness.

     

    And that's totally not okay. Neither of those manners of coping are okay. Being mean is bad and being sad is bad, and the best thing for everyone is to just be them, get on with their own lives.

     

    So do that. You'll be great. You're already so freaking great but you're gonna move mountains. And the bullies will too. Hey, good for them - you both moved past the tough times and everyone's better for it.

     

    One last thing - don't be such a bitch to your mum. You'll regret it.

     

    Much love,

     

    Me

     

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    Comparison is the thief of joy

     

    Dear me,

     

    Don't fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. Yes there are people out there who may have amazing bodies but wondering why your body is not as perfect, is only going to make you sad and frustrated. Your body is beautiful just the way it is and you should respect it rather than punish it in order to get rid of this frustration that was generated by yourself.

     

    Additionally please ignore and stay away from people criticising you, they are toxic and have their own unresolved issues!

     

    Finally, happiness has absolutely nothing to do with losing 10kg or being a size 2. Trust me on this and instead of spending time thinking about dieting, calculating how much weight you should lose in 1 month or panicking about gaining weight after treating yourself with a desert, be with people you love. Go and have fun with your friends, even if that includes having dinner with them, because only your friends and your family will help you go through the real difficulties of life.

     

    A mirror, a scale and XS clothes DO NOT deserve your time and your precious tears. xxx

     

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     

    Okay. Breathe. You've got this. Get out from under that desk.

     

    I know you're scared that you're going to fail your exams, that everyone secretly hates you, that you'll never be happy again. But you know that certainty you're feeling, that it's all about to fall apart? It's not called "Undeniable Truth". It's called "Anxiety". Google it.

     

    Yes, exams are shit. But they get easier. You'll learn not to give in to the panic. You are not a fraud - the straight-As you've been getting were not just a surprising series of flukes. No-one is going to "Find You Out", and declare that you're useless. You are exceptionally bright. Stop apologising for it.

     

    No-one secretly hates you. You're perfectly likeable, and only as awkward as every other sixteen-year-old in history. Everyone else is too preoccupied with what others think of them to be bitching about you.

     

    I know life isn't fun right now. But that's not because sadness is your default setting. It's just tough being sixteen. You have so, so much to look forward to.

     

    You will be amazed again and again at how strong you are, at how much you can achieve. You will become so much more certain of who you are, and so much less certain of many other things - you'll understand that humility means embracing all you've yet to learn, not dismissing your strengths. You'll discover how to look after yourself. You'll run distances you never thought you'd run. You'll travel. You'll work hard. You'll find people with whom you can be completely yourself, with whom you can voice those thoughts you believed were unutterable, and be met with understanding and love.

     

    There will be more sadness, yes, and more moments where you find yourself back hiding under a desk. But there will come a point where you sit and look around at all that you have and feel you might just explode from the sheer joy of it all. And you'll be so glad that you just held on that little bit longer.

     

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     

    A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF

     

    This project is part of the Students' Association's Mental Health and Wellbeing Week. Inspired by the fact that we're often kinder and more patient with others than with ourselves, we're encouraging people to imagine themselves as a best friend or a sibling, and write a letter to their younger self to help them through the tough times. If you'd like to take part, you can do so here

     

     

     

     

  • Wed 25 Jan 2017 19:59

     

     

    To my younger self,

     

    Honestly, I'm so proud of you. You have been through so much at a young age. Some things you shouldn't have had to deal with until you were much older but unfortunately life didn't happen that way. You are still an outgoing and fun person who loves meeting new people but you were so insecure the whole time questioning if people liked you. I can tell you that so many people love you for who you are. Yes even at 22 you can still feel insecure around people but you have grown to love yourself a little bit more everyday. You graduated University which you believed may never happen so well done you for pushing through all those hard times to still obtain a degree. I am so proud of you for seeking help with your mental health at a young age it was an important moment that helped you so much. I know you felt embarrassed and ashamed at the time but it was one of the best things you could have done for yourself. To my younger self I want to lastly say that you are loved and you are important and you can do anything your heart desires.

     

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF

    This project is part of the Students' Association's Mental Health and Wellbeing Week. Inspired by the fact that we're often kinder and more patient with others than with ourselves, we're encouraging people to imagine themselves as a best friend or a sibling, and write a letter to their younger self to help them through the tough times. If you'd like to take part, you can do so here

     

     

  • Wed 25 Jan 2017 19:52

     

     

    Dear 16 year old Isla,

     

    Life is shit right now. You’re doing okay, but I know you’re struggling. You’re hiding it under false dreams of Oxbridge and academia, the straight-A dream. You’re burying yourself in piles of revision and homework every evening and weekend. It’s fine, for now, but those niggling feelings about how you don’t feel fulfilled, that your life is pointless, and that you’ll amount to nothing – they can’t be ignored forever. It will get worse before it gets better, I won’t lie. In a few months, you’ll experience severe depression for the first time (and sadly not the last), undergo a massive identity crisis, completely change your career choices and change your mind about what you want to study at uni. Sidenote: it’s definitely not science. In four years’ time, you will hate science.

     

    But once you got through that life gets better. You know those feelings you have for that girl in your youth group? You won’t hate them. You’ll come out as gay and feel happier for it (even though you fall for a guy at 18 and have to come out again as bi). You get into a course you know you’ll genuinely enjoy, even if it’s not at Oxbridge. You will be happy with yourself one day and it’s not far in the future, I promise. And there’s so much to be happy about. You’re kind and caring with a whole lot of love to give to the world. You’re so smart, and I don’t mean that in just the academic way (although that’s all you care about at the moment). Although the people around you at school don’t bring out the best in you and you don’t have many friends, that will change. Soon enough you’ll be able to surround yourself purely with positive people, and that will make a world of difference.

     

    Chin up pal. It’s tough. Being 16 sucks. But being 20 is so much better, and life has so much more to give to you. You’re fab, I promise.

     

    Isla (aged 20) xoxo

     

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF

    This project is part of the Students' Association's Mental Health and Wellbeing Week. Inspired by the fact that we're often kinder and more patient with others than with ourselves, we're encouraging people to imagine themselves as a best friend or a sibling, and write a letter to their younger self to help them through the tough times. If you'd like to take part, you can do so here

     

     

  • Wed 25 Jan 2017 12:19

     

     

    Hey you,

     

    I’m not about to tell you that everything’s gonna be plain sailing for the next few years. It’s not. No one gets that. You’re gonna get some shit. There are some things you can’t run away from, not even when you move across a sea to live a life in another language. People you thought loved you will leave you crying on the floor. A place you dreamed about for years will turn out to be lonely and hollow and will nearly break you. You can’t scrub some memories out of you, however much time passes. But it’ll be okay.

     

    It’ll be okay.

     

    I was in a pissy mood earlier, and I was thinking about an analogy about living with mental illness I saw somewhere, that compared it to driving an old car: you can still go, and you can cope with the odd bump in the road, but the bigger potholes, they get you. They make you stop and break you down and you need to call for help or weld yourself back together. And pissy-mood-me thought “well what’s the point?? If I can’t cope with things going wrong, what am I good for?”

     

    You are good for more than you can conceive right now. You are good because you care about people. Even when maybe you shouldn’t. You cook for them and you say nice things to them and you always support them or at least try, and you keep in contact and you hope against hope that they’re doing okay because you are. You realise; you are okay.

     

    All that shit – yes, it touched you. It shaped you and I’m not gonna say that it was all okay because it made you the person you are today. No, some of it wasn’t right. And yes, maybe I’d delete if I could. But I can’t, and I guess it doesn’t matter, because you’re here now, and you can get up in the morning and just about leave it behind. See?

     

    That’s what’s amazing. You’ll be okay.

     

    And that might not mean much when you’re up shit creek, but please try and believe it. Try and believe that that person won’t mean a thing, that that night will just be a stubborn stain on your life, that all those tears and cuts and won’t kill you; they’ll teach you how to live through it next time.

     

    Soon – sooner than you think (yes yes, the clichés are coming) – you’ll be an adult(!) both legally and emotionally, and you’ll feel like you’re changing things for the better and you’ll have people who support you and you’ll love so hard it scares you and you’ll have goals and you’ll eat proper meals and you’ll run run run and you’ll… be okay. No, better.

     

    Love you always, even when you don’t xxx

     

    p.s. I guess even now I can’t write without going off on tangents. Don’t worry. All the best writers need editors.

     

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF

    This project is part of the Students' Association's Mental Health and Wellbeing Week. Inspired by the fact that we're often kinder and more patient with others than with ourselves, we're encouraging people to imagine themselves as a best friend or a sibling, and write a letter to their younger self to help them through the tough times. If you'd like to take part, you can do so here

  • Wed 25 Jan 2017 11:26

     

     

    Dear 16-year-old Paola,

     

    I am so proud of you. Your boyfriend is putting down your dreams, telling you that going to university and studying languages is totally useless. And what do you do? You stick to your guns, don’t let anyone get in the way of your dreams and apply to study languages at your dream university. You have so much guts, and you refuse to be anyone but yourself. I know to you this quality can at times be pretty frustrating, because it makes you feel like a bit of an odd ball. But I promise you, it’s this quality that everyone actually loves about you, and you will come to love too. I know you feel like being different is more of a chore and that you wished that sometimes you liked all the things that everyone else seems to at school, but trust me, the things that make you different and weird when you’re younger are the things that make you cool, individual and respected as you get older. Things do get easier, I promise.

     

    Along the way you’re gonna meet some people who aren’t worth your time. But don’t worry about them too much. You’re super clever and you will figure out who you need in your life and who you need to leave behind eventually. Don’t let this stop you from being the caring and loving friend that you are to everyone. I know it gets tiring doing so much for people and sometimes feeling like you don’t get anything back from them, but being like this is what’s gonna get you some really amazing and loyal friends who will be right there for you too, even if you don’t feel like you have this right now. In the future, people are going to drunkenly tell you that they love you because you are so happy and smiley and friendly, and you shouldn’t let some shitty people stop you from being like that.

     

    One last thing: Stop worrying so much about your weight! Your body is an amazing thing, and I promise that you’ll be having much better sex as a size 14 in a few years than you’re having right now as a size 10 anyway. You absolutely don’t need a boy to validate the way you feel about your body, but just FYI, you will sit in a restaurant with a boy you love who will tell you how attractive he finds that you can eat a humongous steak all by yourself. Keep eating those huge bowls of pasta, girl.

     

    Love 22-year-old Paola

     

    PS. Do not let anyone tell you that your emotions and ideas are invalid because you are a teenager and a girl. Your ideas are important and totally valid, and teenage girls are gonna rule the world one day.

     

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF

    This project is part of the Students' Association's Mental Health and Wellbeing Week. Inspired by the fact that we're often kinder and more patient with others than with ourselves, we're encouraging people to imagine themselves as a best friend or a sibling, and write a letter to their younger self to help them through the tough times. If you'd like to take part, you can do so here

     

     

  • Mon 23 Jan 2017 16:02

     

     

    Worry not, friends. I've created a problem solving flowchart to help with this very issue: 

    For time and location details and more info on each event, see the full programme here.  

    This is not a complete list of events! See the above link for updates. 

     

     

  • Wed 09 Nov 2016 17:13

    Genuinely though, there are loads of really cool events, they’re all free/v low prices, and we all need a distraction from real life right now so why not have that distraction in the form of bellydance? Debate? Coffee tasting? Poetry Slam?

     

    Trying out something that’s a bit different from your normal routine really is a great way to lift your mood, meet new people, and pick up a new hobby. All of the events offer these rewards, but here are some examples of some of the fantastic events on offer and what you can get out of them:

     

    Want to pick up a new hobby? Try…

      -   Ballet! Lots more modern dance opportunities. I am doing ballet and you will for sure be better than me so feel free to just come and show me up

      -   Climbing Remember those really cool pictures of Urte last year that got used in like every piece of EUSA promo material? That could be YOU!

      -   Knitting (old school, I know, it’s 2016 not 1916, right? But 2016 isn’t going so well… so why not try something a bit different?)

     

     

    Want to unwind?

      -   Outdoor activities like climbing Calton Hill and going to the observatory. Getting some (fairly chilly nice and crisp) fresh air is super good for your mental wellbeing and a chance to get out of the uni bubble, out of the four walls of the library. Climb up a hill and get some perspective, it’s fab I promise.

      -   Whisky! Gin! Cocktails! (drink responsibly)

      -   Lots of things like mindful doodling and tai chi and yoga and meditation which are all obviously very good study breaks.

     

     

    Want to meet new people?

      -   RAG Volunteer meeting. Again, fab for your mental health to volunteer and be part of something bigger. RAG week this year is looking to be bigger than ever so get involved early for a chance to join in.

      -   The International Student Centre are putting on a potluck! That’s right, snacks! Cook something to represent your country or region and come to taste food from around the world, meeting friends from far and wide.

     

    Want to be intellectually engaged?

      -   Many different film screenings of films I haven’t seen but I’m sure are great. You'll have to go and investigate. 

      -   Fledgling society Pathways for Peace will be hosting a panel discussion on the theme of Religion and Reconciliation. Go along and maybe have some faith restored in humanity's tolerance of people. 

      -   Various events entitled How Would You Change The World? And What Can We Learn From History? (Topical.)

     

    Summary: There are 70+ events on offer (here) so you should definitely see if there’s anything you’d like to try and… Give it a go! (Sorry I had to). 

  • Wed 19 Oct 2016 13:39

     

    The University of Edinburgh has 3 colleges, 18 schools, each of which has umpteen degree programmes and dozens of buildings*. All that culminates in 35,000 students and 9,000 staff. Just stop for a second to think about how many lectures, labs and tutorials must be going on at any one moment… It’s a lot.

     

    Now think about how the university is managed: I know, as a student, you don’t really have cause to think about this, and that’s fine. Students’ – and staff’s – communities are in their subject area, their building, their school. Why would most students know the name of the University Secretary? As long as they know their personal tutor, their course organiser, their SSO, then they know who to turn to for direction on most issues.

     

    But university management is trying to influence all schools. Of course they are, that’s their job. They are developing strategies on Mental Health, Gender Equality, reviewing Support for Disabled Students. But how can these centrally-managed policies reach every student in every building in every school?

     

    The Mental Health Strategy (ongoing) is a perfect example of what I’m trying to illustrate. It is fantastic that the University are making a coordinated effort to create an environment which supports good mental health. But, sadly, I am sceptical about how much influence the strategy alone will have. All its implementations have to go through so much admin and be passed from department to department in every school; they may not be relevant to each department; and a single centrally managed strategy cannot address the individual issues around mental health in each subject area, all of which are dependent on the specific stressors related to that field, that subject’s assessment methods, those courses’ teaching styles and requirements.

     

    I fiercely believe that for real change to happen, it needs to come bottom-up, as well as top-down. To continue with the mental health example** students are the ones who have experience of what the problems are, so students should be dictating the change. Relying on statistics can only tell you so much. Change needs to be directed by those who it will affect.

     

    During my four years here at Edinburgh Uni, I never really felt like I had an input into my student experience. That’s probably partly because I didn’t run to be a school/class rep, I didn’t take my issues to those reps etc. But I reckon a lot of us are guilty of just complaining about things, without attempting to lift a finger to change them.

     

    A lot of this we, as sabbs, are trying to change. Patrick is introducing mid-semester feedback, so that honours students can give feedback directly to their tutors while the course is running, and change the pedagogic style while it still affects them (unlike filling in a questionnaire at the end of the semester when no one cares anymore). But this is just the beginning. Students need to have their say on every issue, from teaching style to mental health issues to provision of study spaces.

     

    There’s also room for improvement around the attitude towards school and class reps. How many of you know who your school rep is? How many staff in your school do you think know who the school rep is? I truly believe that once school reps are respected, have power, and execute that power, all of the above will change.

     

    But let’s not just sit around waiting for that to happen. You do have a say in your experience; that is what these representative structures are here for. Vote in elections and ensure that the reps have a mandate. When you have an issue with your school – any issue; academic, pastoral, anything – chat to others, see if they have the same issue, and take it to your school rep. Be prepared to open discussions with staff and change things. Have your say.

     

     

     

    *I really can’t be bothered to look up the numbers for those last two.

    **but this applies to everything. Are the opening hours of your building appropriate? How to do you feel about the assessment methods? Is your feedback in the form you want it to be? Are you happy with the catering provision in your area?

  • Tue 04 Oct 2016 13:57

    Disability Review: Update and how to contribute

     

    Back in April, The Disability and Mental Wellbeing liberation group, led by Jess Killeen, and Black Triangle Society, brought a motion to council entitled ‘The Principal Must Resign’. It was an outcry against the University’s consistent inability to meet the needs of disabled students. More info can be found in this article from The Student.

     

    The motion did not pass, and the University finally paid attention. It was agreed that a Disability Review would take place that would focus on two main aspects: the accessibility of the estate and the implementation of Learning Adjustments. The Review is expected to finish around February, having made recommendations along the way. Me and Leah Morgan, Disability and Mental Wellbeing convenor, are the student representatives on the review panel.

     

    The review started by requesting reflective reports from various different university departments, including the Disability Service and the Estates department. We initially met to review these documents and discuss what other consultations are necessary. The first intensive day of consultations took place on Friday 30th September, in which the review panel met with a series of relevant groups. The next one is planned for the end of October, and will focus on the (non-)implementation of Learning Adjustments: We’re looking for participants, so if you are a student with a learning profile who’d like to feed into the review on Friday 28th October, please email me!

     

    As I’ve mentioned, the review is taking place because there are huge shortfalls in meeting the needs of disabled students. This is exemplified by the fact that there’s no centralised reporting mechanism for either sphere of issues; non-implementation learning adjustments or accessibility failures. Obviously this complicates the review process further, as the panel can’t simply review a list of complaints to identify the systemic problems. Rather, we need to access the complaints in the first place, which are scattered throughout the university among thousands of different staff members and dozens of different departments.

     

    It’s also complicated further by the balance between accessing individual complaints and dealing with systemic failures to create long term change. On one hand, the review isn’t the place for individual complaints, as solving each complaint is a) what the university should’ve been doing already (!), and b) would be a really slow way to changing things and wouldn’t guarantee that new issues would not arise in the future. We need to review processes and widespread, departmental failures. On the other hand, precisely because there is no centralised complaint mechanism, we need some input of individual complaints in order to find the patterns, the trends, the areas where there are endemic problems and system failures. Also, while for example a non-implementation of a learning adjustment may be an individual issue in an otherwise well-functioning department (or it may be the only complaint of the department but reflect the experiences of other students in the department who simply aren’t aware how to make their experiences known – how can you tell??), a specific complaint pertaining to a building being non-accessible is probably affecting numerous other students.

     

    In order to try and solve this absolute mess of issues, we’ve creating this form as a temporary solution. If you identify as disabled and would like to feed into the disability review, please fill in this form detailing your experiences (positive ones are useful as well as negative ones!). Leah and I will then catalogue the data and feed into the review.

     

    If you have any questions, comments, ideas, anything related to the review, don’t hesitate to email me.

  • Mon 26 Sep 2016 11:31

     

     

    Freshers’ Welcome Week is over and I’m sitting at my desk shivering. I guess this means the semester has well and truly started. It’s still odd for us here in the Potterrow office to see Bristo Square teeming with students again, but it’s fantastic to remember why we stood as sabbatical officers in the first place. (And there’s a hell of a lot more free pizza in welcome week than during the fringe)

     

    Welcome Week is always going to be a ridiculously intense time. There are too many events to count, thousands of potential friends, over 300 societies and clubs to join, and what seems like insurmountable admin. I just want to say, don’t worry if it got too much!

     

    It can seem like the be all and end all, but I promise it’s not. It’s just the first week. If you didn’t make as many friends as you thought you would; if you don’t like your course after all; if you signed up for 12 societies and now have an inundated inbox, or were too hungover to go to the activities fair and haven’t signed up for any… All of it doesn’t matter. You can sign up for a society at any time. Stress not, young fresher.

     

    If you’ve been to any society events so far, you’ll have seen the absurd amount of people. I went to SignSoc’s introductory session on Tuesday night and there must have been around 100 people learning to sign their name and favourite drink. It will come as no surprise that all these people won’t come all year. And that’s fine.

     

    This isn’t me telling you to quit the things you love or anything! Societies and sports are amazing and you should totally get involved (I’m running out of ways to say that). But if something’s not right for you, it’s only wasting time to stick around for the sake of it. Just keep going to what you love, and keep trying new things until you find something you love. We’ve got 250 societies and 13 volunteering groups; there’ll be something!

     

    AND as if you need anything else to distract you from your studies, the events haven’t stopped either! All throughout the year there are spoken word nights, jazz nights, quizzes, and so much more on in the Students’ Association buildings.

     

    Finally (nearly done I promise) you should totally run in the by-elections. First year? Be a campaign organiser. Post-grad? Be a rep. LGBT+? Run in the bi-election (!) to be LGBT+ liberation group convenor. All of these let you have direct involvement in representing your peers and changing things to make student life – your very own day to day life – better. Past holders of these positions have secured extra funding for the overburdened counselling service, organised club nights, changed teaching methods… IT COULD BE YOU. But seriously, it’s super fun and yes, is an extra line for the cv. More info here: or just fire me an email at eusavpsa@ed.ac.uk.

     

    p.s. Questions? The Advice Place are here to help. And/or just befriend your lovely sabbs on facebook and ask us anything. (Add me here for access to my infinite wit and because I wanna get more friends than Jenna).

     

  • Fri 09 Sep 2016 12:10

    Thursday 18 August saw me (luckily) escape being needed for Jury Service, and instead I was able to attend NUS Scotland’s The Gathering in the oh-so-photogenic grounds of Stirling Uni. Following NUS Scotland releasing their Plan of Work 2016/17. The Gathering was an opportunity for sabbatical officers, convenors and part time officers, and student association staff to come together and share plans for the coming academic year. 

     


    Working towards an improved private rental sector was on my manifesto, and so I’m pleased to report that there’s been lots of talk and planning among sabbatical officers (greatly encouraged by Stirling Union President Dave Keenan, see above) for work on housing. Lots of you might have seen the BBC article reporting that Edinburgh is the most expensive city to live in for students, so any work that can be done to alleviate this is paramount. At the start of 2016, a 16% increase in average monthly rents was registered in Edinburgh. The equivalent statistic for London was 11%* . As a consequence of the Private Tenancies Bill which was passed last year, local authorities have new powers to introduce rent caps in certain areas. Want to help? 


    1.    Email your local MP or MSP detailing your concerns about rental standards
    2.    Email your local councillor to tell them about what you think should be done in the rental sector
    3.    Join a tenants union. Personally, I’m a member of the living rent tenants’ union who are great

     

    Now for the punny-est NUS report you’ll hear about: The Bairn Necessities, NUS Scotland’s report on student parents. I attended a fantastic session on this at The Gathering, and look forward to implementing the report’s recommendations here at Edinburgh Uni. I’ll be attending the Student Parents Welcome Event in Welcome Week, so if you’re a student parent, come along and say hi!


    The Gathering also saw Fife College share the successes they’ve had with rolling out Mental Health First Aid Training. Mental health is more and more on the radar of higher education institutes, and finally the government are starting to take notice. Prior to the Scottish government elections in May, all 5 major Scottish parties committed to improve support for student mental health. NUS Scotland plan on holding them to this promise, and I reckon Mental Health and Wellbeing Week would be a fantastic opportunity to make some noise about this here at Edinburgh Uni.


    Mental Health and Wellbeing Week was started last year by former VPSA Andy Peel, and the associated campaign, #letstalk, recently won the Herald Higher Education Campaign of the Year! So we’ll hitch a lift on their success and relaunch #letstalk for Mental Health and Wellbeing Week 2017. Plans for the 2017 edition currently involve a focus on how to help your friends cope with mental ill health, not to mention an exciting guest speaker**. It’s looking likely the week will take place in late January, as there’s a lot going on in February. (It’s also the time when everyone has forgotten what the sun looks like and might most need some support.) We’re also looking to keep the week really student led, so get thinking, what can your sports club/society/student group do to contribute to the week, and more broadly, to the long term support of its members? 
    We’d also like the week to have some clear goals, and it seems like a fantastic opportunity to make some noise in Holyrood’s direction about student mental health, and feed into NUS’ lobbying plans.  We all know that the university counselling service is under ever more strain as a result of rising mental health and illness issues among students, and while extra funding for the service is paramount as a reactionary measure, is it really sustainable long term? And should the university health service be bearing the brunt of a national mental health crisis?


    If you have a cold, you go to the doctor, not your personal tutor. Why should it be any different for mental health? Let’s be clear, that’s not to say don’t go to your personal tutor with mental health issues (do it do it now), but in the long run we’d like to see systematic investment in mental health support for young people from the government. Students should not have to rely on what support their uni may or may not be able to supply. 

     

    http://bit.ly/1Zk2bdC

    **We do not have a speaker yet. Let’s hope whoever we pick is exciting. 

     

  • Thu 11 Aug 2016 11:54

     

    The best thing about this job is that I am constantly busy and actually feel like I’m making a difference. The worst thing about this job is that I can’t cross the building to go to the toilet without being harassed by people trying to give me flyers. To be honest, I reckon that’s an alright trade-off.

     

    We’ve now been in our roles for about 2 months, though predictably the time has absolutely hurtled by.

     

    Uncovering the inner workings of the structures I’ve been surrounded by for the past four years has been fascinating, baffling, and frustrating all at once. The Uni is ridiculously big and power is really devolved to each individual school. On one hand, this is a good thing because all the schools are so different that they need structures that reflects this. But it also means that getting anything done across the whole University is so difficult, due to the different systems and different points of contact in each school. Case in point: actually implementing the mental health training for personal tutors that the last sabb team secured. Want to help? Ask your personal tutor if they’ve had the training!

     

    Another frustrating aspect of the Uni side of things is that everything happens so slowly. All the University top dogs have choc-a-bloc calendars meaning that meetings and committees are pretty infrequent. One of the most frustrating things is just having to wait for a committee to meet and (hopefully!) approve the thing you’ve been working on for months. Especially when you’re not even on that committee. Case in point: 24-hour Main Library. Want to help? Email the head of IS, Gavin McLachlan,(Gavin.McLachlan@ed.ac.uk) explaining why you’d really benefit from a 24 hour library!

     

    The in-house training we’ve had has been in depth and fantastic. From basic accountancy to the ins and outs of charity law, it has been extensive, and an enormous confidence booster. This does really make us, as a fairly large Students’ Association, realise how privileged we are compared to some of the smaller unions.

     

    There are also various NUS events dotted throughout the summer, which are primarily useful for networking (it’s such a buzzword but it’s true). It’s so interesting to see what is going on at other unions, to compare and to link up on projects. For example, dealing with our disparate campuses seems easy peasy compared to what the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association has to deal with: representing students at 13 different colleges and over 70 local learning centres located between Argyll and Shetland! After the NUS training at Keele University, I’m comparing ideas on sexual health, anti-sexual harassment and mental health with people at unions such as Leeds, KCL, Cardiff, UEA, Newcastle and Surrey. (On a side note, spending three days at Keele campus also reminded me why I was so keen to come to a city university – it was a very weird bubble that felt like we weren't really in the real world, and where apparently the pokemon were cocky little things who kept running away.)

     

    In terms of what I’m actually working on at the moment; my time is split between everything on my manifesto, Andy’s projects that I’m continuing, the role-specific work and work for the various committees I sit on, and the dozen other things that crop up that are rubbish for students and need dealing with. (More specific updates on individual projects are on their way)

     

    Like I said, I like being busy.

     

    P.S. Got ideas for Mental Health and Wellbeing week? Feedback from last year? My inbox is always open.

 

Objective 1 Improve engagement

Why? Because the Students’ Association should act as a coordinator for individual initiative and collective effort

 

Objective 2 Facilitate daily life

Why? Because the student experience should be as stress-free as possible

 

Objective 3 Increase accessibility

Why? Because regardless of circumstance, students should have equal opportunities throughout university