Looking back on the Student Leaders Conference

Posted by cc576 at Oct 28, 2020 03:55 PM |
Welcoming those who represent you.

Run by the Students’ Union, the Student Leaders Conference on Saturday 24 October welcomed newly elected Academic Representatives, Student Council Reps, Equality and Liberation Champions, as well as Peer Mentors into their new roles.

The session emphasised student empowerment, with students as partners in education, empowering them to take an interest, and to help improve the educational developments taking place locally in their departments and/or wider in the University.

Addressing 140 student leaders, President and Vice-Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah highlighted how vital the partnership is between these elected representatives and the University, stating: “In uncertain times, working in partnership is vital in order to achieve success and build the best possible university experience together. I am convinced that through our collective voice and strength, we can succeed and make a difference. You have a key role to play in bringing new thinking to the table, holding us to account and ensuring that the best interests of students are met.

The event encompassed a series of talks and core training sessions aimed both at equipping our student leaders with the knowledge required to undertake their new roles and at emphasising the value of the work they do to the University, the Students’ Union and their fellow students. Adnan Rahman, Education Officer for the Students’ Union and host of two of 10 workshops made available at the conference had this to say:

"The Annual Student Leaders Conference organised by your Students' Union is a chance for all democratically elected student reps, from Course Reps to Union Council reps to Part Time Officers, to network with others, gain invaluable skills as well as gaining an insight in to SU and University priorities, both for the year and on a long-term basis. This is one of my favourite times of the year as I get to meet passionate and engaged students from across the University and I look forward to welcoming you all."

With access to workshops such as ‘Can you talk the talk’, 'Grass root Activism', 'LGBT+ Student Training – Effective Allyship' and 'Student Leadership', delivered by both Student Union Officers and University staff, attendees to this event gained a wealth of knowledge, aiding them in their future endeavours in their newly elected roles. One attendee, a Chemistry Representative, had this to say: A lot of information was given, and all my questions were answered during the sessions. They were engaging and useful in getting to know other people. I liked how the sessions were focused on a particular matter and you could choose which one to attend.

The elected officials in attendance were gifted with messages of praise from Nishan Canagrajah, President and Vice-Chancellor: "I want a university where students play an active role in shaping and co-creating what education looks like. That is why I commend you all for putting yourselves forward for your respective roles.” As students with the ability to influence decision making processes and enable the University, their College and their Department to achieve their objectives, they are vital in helping enact positive change. They were encouraged to put forward their commitment not only in lectures and in the learning environment, but in student democracy, student organizations and public debate. In short: they were urged to put their mark on the campus, leaving a metaphorical imprint.

The values that the University is built on are exactly those that are crucial for our ability to free ourselves from short-termism and immediate demands and to promote research and education that span generations and transcend geographical boundaries. They are about tolerance, empathy, inclusiveness and empowerment, about freedom of speech, transparency and human rights. These are fundamental values that enable us to understand our past and present, and to prepare for the future.

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