By far the most common question I get asked about my Officer role (behind “Where are the microwaves?!” - answer: working on it!) is: “What on earth does ‘Development’ actually mean?’
In truth, the job basically absorbs a bit of everything: transport, finance, accommodation, the SU’s commercial operations, and loads more (including, for reasons that still escape me, signing car parking permits!). It can be both initiatives big and small – from the overarching commercial services the SU provides, to those little things which help to improve your day-to-day lives at university.
With that in mind, here’s an update on some of the things I’ve been working on during the last term…
We all know what a stress the buses can be at the best of times – and this term has resolutely not been that! We recently met with Stagecoach to relay your concerns, and I posted about this in a separate blog HERE.
The weather may be getting colder, but you can now warm yourself up, completely FREE, in the library with the new boiling water tap. This was a long campaign to get you the hot water you deserve for all those cups of tea/pot noodles/hot water bottles you love, so go wild (just please be careful!)
Catalogue Model Pose #1
Microwaves are unfortunately taking a bit longer to get sorted, so watch this space. In the meantime, however, I’ve made sure the microwave is back in the SUHQ Workzone, so when the queue in Bar Fusion looks more like the queue for the last U1 after Pop!, just come along to SUHQ (above Rootes Grocery Store), and cook those healthy lunches in the comfort of your own Students’ Union.
Catalogue Model Pose #2
The National Union of Students last week published a report on the worsening state of student housing in the UK. They found that in 2011/12, “rents accounted for 58 per cent of the maximum financial support allowed [to students in the form of loans and grants]”, with the figures increasing to 73% in 2018-19. The effect of this is clearly felt here at Warwick – whether it’s in Leamington, Kenilworth or Coventry, the affordability and quality of student accommodation are frequently nowhere near good enough.
Recently, SU president Liam and I toured some student residences in Leamington with members of the University Council, Warwick Accommodation, Estates and the Residential Life Team. We were able to show them the circumstances some students are living in: poor quality housing, expensive accommodation with questionable landlords, and not enough support from the University when things go wrong. We are now working with the University to develop a strategy to address these issues, primarily focussing on the quality and affordability of student accommodation.
Warwick District Council are also developing their own student housing strategy, and in a meeting with them last month I made sure that the affordability of student accommodation was made a priority. If all new accommodation being built is ‘luxury’, more and more students will be priced out and forced into poor quality housing just to have a home they can afford. We are determined to stop that from happening.
Food and Drink on Campus
I now hold a place on the Campus Commercial Services Steering Group, which oversees everything from the University’s cafes to Warwick Conferences. My priority has been ensuring that the student voice is heard in these decisions and does not become a secondary concern to bringing in more profit. In particular, I have focused on prices for students in Rootes Grocery Store, the new Sports Hub and the Arts Centre. I will be continuing to work on this to make sure you aren’t going further into debt every time you buy a meal deal from Rootes!
SU Commercial Operations
Development also means I am the Student Officer who oversees the SU’s commercial services. Our outlets have gone from strength to strength this term – and every pint of purple sold in The Copper Rooms or baguette bought in The Bread Oven means we have more money to put back into helping students through the Advice Centre, funding Clubs and Societies, and so much more. Two new nights have recently been launched – Reflektor and Glow – both of which have proven to be very popular, so thanks for all your support! Watch out for our new animation about where your money goes, which will be coming very soon.
Rootes Grocery Store – Food Bank Donation Point
Finally, my passion project. I have been working both with University’s commercial services and the Trussell Trust food bank in Coventry to see a donation point placed in Rootes Grocery Store so we can all easily help out those in our community who need it most. I’m now confident that it will be in place early in Term 2, so keep an eye out for it!