hey, i'm MICHAEL BANAHENE

vp sTUDENT Experience

Hi, I’m Michael (people call me Bana) and I'm this year's VP student experience.

I’ll be working alongside Sports, Societies and VTeam this year if you see me about feel free to stop me!

I am a seasoned veteran of Sub Zero, and have represented the Essex blades for over 3 years in Rugby. This year I want to try as many things as I can so I am starting, alongside my fortnightly blog, a series in which I will try out different sports, societies and volunteering projects!

Got a question you need answering? Drop me an email:

Send me an email
 

freshers!

"Fresher’s is over! This was one of the most enjoyable but most exhausting weeks of my life! From greeting fresher’s on Southend campus to setting up for fresher’s fair in Colchester it was a non-stop week. I had the pleasure of greeting some new students in their welcome talks, giving them a little insight into the SU, what we do and why we do it. Also helping to promote the course rep system and how they can help shape their studies. Alongside this I was present in many of the society, V-team and sports executive committee training meetings. It was amazing to see so many students volunteering to lead their respective groups and give time to make them as successful as possible. Southend and Colchester are two remarkable different campuses both with their own unique benefits! Their fresher’s fair really integrates them into the local town with companies and organisations attending, the Colchester one is much more student lead with all of the sports and societies showcasing what they can do. On top of tis I attended the demans for change training, and it was fantastic to see the university and SU working collaboratively to bring the student voice to the front of what we do! I truly believe this is something that could make a massive different to campus life Bana ."

 

New Office!

"This month us SABBs moved office! We are now located further down the SU corridor, and have our own office dedicated to the team. Any questions do come and find us! This week also saw us do majority of the accommodation tours. We covered every on campus accommodation except for the newly refurbished South Towers, and Wolfson court, so head to out Instagram to see the stories and have a look at what you should be expecting!! ."

This Week’s Update

"So this fortnight began with a dinner with the Vice chancellor and other key university staff members. He invited us around to his ‘white house’ where we sate and ate and spoke about several things going on with the Uni. This was an great opportunity to continue to build the relationship between the Students Union and the University. We spoke to him about different aspects of our ‘BIG plan’ and what we wanted to achieve. This was followed by a meeting of the Cost of living big plan group; we started to map out different actions for this coming year and contacted several people looking ahead to meetings specifically around the cost of laundry and accommodation. The SABB team and other SU staff underwent Mental Health First Aid TRAINING (MHFA) this was a massive eye opener to all of us and something we hope will help is in the coming year. We believe it will not only help us to support the people we work alongside and for but also ourselves in the way we approach our own mental health. Kent SU’s SABBs also visited giving us an amazing opportunity to meet our counterparts and help support them in things they are trying to achieve, whilst also learning from some of the amazing things they have done in their Union. Bana ."

Intro

"This is the first of a series of blogs and vlogs I will be publishing throughout the year as a way to show you guys what I am up too! It will be my way of answering questions, promoting our successes and updating you on the different things I will be working on. If you want anything answered feel free to drop me an email and I’ll do my best to answer and if it effects a wider audience I will publish it on here! VPexperience@essex.ac.uk 

So here is a brief breakdown of my first 6 weeks as the VP of student Experience.

These past 6 weeks have been a massive learning curve for me. After starting my role I was still quite unsure on how I could really integrate myself into the SU but throughout our panning sessions this had become much clearer. The first few weeks consisted of us bringing together many different bits of feedback and collating it into what is now the big plan.

(The organisations annual plan of topics to tackle as voted for by YOU)

I have been given the task to work on the cost of living group. After going through the data I was given the chance to present my case to key members of the university (including the vice chancellor) this really allowed me to voice your concern and use your stories to start bringing about the change you have asked us for.

This has opened many doors for me, I have now been given the opportunity to sit and work with the University on two big topics, one is accommodation costs, so bringing a students view to the table when they review the rent, and two the renewal of the co tract with circuit. (The guys who run the laundrettes. We are going to challenge the contract and try and get the best deal possible! (Hopefully this means cheaper washing) Finally we are working with Essex Sport to try and increase the value of your sporting memberships, challenge the cost, and improve access to more recreational sports.

I have never sat through so many meetings and received so many emails!

I have also had a chance to attend a conference which brought together many students unions from universities in the south of England. This has really helped me to focus my aims for the year, hearing about how other sabbatical officers are working and implementing ideas has really given me a range of things I think can improve the effectiveness of the services we deliver to you! I have definitely used this opportunity to learn and it has really helped meeting people who are working on similar projects!

Bana.

Societies awards panel + filming

Image result for panel meeting

Soc Awards Panel

This week I spent most of my time in Societies Award Panel meetings, where I, some SU and University staff as well as some members of the Societies Guild Exec members review. I am proud to say that the standard of the applications I have read have been amazing and it has made deciding the winners so difficult which is good!

Filming Lab Videos

As part of the Study Spaces Big 5 group we tasked ourselves to create videos showing students how to get to some of the most hidden Labs to use this year for revision for exams and also for next year for the incoming  first year student who won’t have the slightest clue as to find them.

We realised this year that although many students struggle to find PCs to use during the busy periods of the year there are some Labs with vacant PCs that are unused purely because students have no idea where they are – which is why we are making these videos! A way to make better use of the space we have here at Essex, they should be up ideally just before or in the first week of Term 3!

 

the 'BLADES PASS'

As the final Result after numerous negociations we now have the Blades Pass! at £20. this allows all students the ability to get to thier scheduled club sessions and nothing more - we orginally wanted the pice to be £0 but happy we were able to slash the price from £99 to £20. Thank you to everyone again for all your efforts!

Frances x

Final Conversation with the uNIVERSITY

(

First of all... ignore my eyebrows and the hair... instead focus on the words haha.

These are some words just before we meet with the University to discuss the facilities fee... I would like to take this oppurtunity to thank everybody for thier comments, emails and contributions! It goes to show that when you raise your voices about an issue important to you you will be heard!

Ill update you all soon!

Frances x

its funny but it still hurts

Honestly one of my favourite memes, and definitly one of the more popular ones because it sparks some truth in that out of the 44 sports clubs we offere here at Essex, the new £12million sports arena facilitates only 7 of these clubs, one of which (futsal) they require the club to pay for the barriers to play thier sport in the arena. If students are to pay a significant amount of money this year to play sport, surely providing better facilities and improving the ones that are avaialble should reflect this charge? The answer is yes. 

student quote

This is so sad. I didnt join a sports club properly untill half way through my second year, it was then i felt at home at Uni with a sense of belonging. It also gave me the break i needed from the Univeristy workload. Like alot of students i would not have been able to afford that ridiculous price.

 

- Student response to the proposed charge of £99

something from the su

...in the spirit of 'no bullshit' we had to inform our studentsabout the situation...

 

It's safe to say that the Univeristy weren't impressed at all about the facebook outrage, but complete transparancey is      something the SU are proud of to offer toour students and as such we stand by our 'no bullshit' tattoo.

£99 Facilities fee outrage - rightly so

3 weeks post the Essex Sport Board and just over a month we received no update on the proposed charge for students. Being that my job was to represent the voice of the students yet the students were not notified about such changes I felt uncomfortable keeping such significant changes from then without getting their opinion on the matter.

So on august 13th I posted into the ‘University of Essex Fresher’s 2017-18’ Facebook page about the University’s decision via The Essex Sport Board to start charging members of Essex Blades (members who represent our University through sport) a minimum of £99 to participate in sport this academic year. Here is the message:

“Hey guys, this is your VP Activities here with some feedback on the future funding of sport at the university.

The University are looking to introduce a facilities fee of £99 (minimum) for students to be able to access the sporting facilities this year. We as @EssexSU do not agree to the introduction of a cost to participate in sport, but as a compromise to the proposal made to the sports board we suggested a cheaper fee of £50, however this was rejected. Thus the fee of £99 still stands as the possible fee to be introduced this year by the University to students to participate in sport…

I would really value your thoughts on this so that I can go back into discussion with the university.

Frances”

This post, as expected was met with outrage, disappointment and very very funny memes! xD

With 550+ interactions and comments it wasn’t long before the University called to have a meeting with us to sort this issue out.

It’s safe to say that the University were unimpressed of my initial post and the controversy it caused but as I have said before my job here is to represent YOUR voice and I felt it entirely unfair for students to be blindsided with such a hefty fee when term started.

Next post should be about the lead up to the meeting!

See you soon,

Frances x

Essex Sport Board update - the future of sport

You could easily say I was thrown in into the deep end (and I wouldn’t stop you) when I started this job, as half way through my training in July I was notified that that there were already significant plans in progress of being approved. Such plans that would have a huge impact on the overall student experience of sport here at Essex.   

Some of you may have been fortunate enough to experience what was known as ‘free sport’, if you are in first year however, you won’t have had the luxury. For a period of 4 years students were able to participate, play sport and represent the university for free – however this model proved to not be sustainable and as such the University have made the decision to not continue with it and move to a chargeable model this year instead.

Of which some of you may find understandable, as sport is expensive to run, however the paper that was submitted to the Board planned for students to pay 99% more than they already did the previous academic year by purchasing the minimum Essex Sport membership which is the Bronze priced at £99 to help contribute to the overall subsidy of sport.

The charge would mainly affect clubs who use on campus facilities as each individual would need to pay it in order to access such facilities. But it was suggested that every club member - both campus and non campus should pay it. Which given the conditions of some facilities, and the fact that some members may not even step one foot unto campus facilities we thought was highly unfair.

I expressed these feelings and offered a compromise (I want to make this clear that as a SU we do not agree with charging for sport at all) however in a bid to work collaboratively with the university I suggested an alternative called the ‘Copper Membership’ (I tried to stay within the current theme of metals) which would be priced at £50 and would only be for club sessions with no other benefits.  

Now before you all shout at me, I know this wasn’t the best deal but it was the best I could offer in my 21 seconds as an officer. Regardless this proposal was dismissed at the board, as it was expressed that introducing a 4th tier of membership would ‘further confuse students’ of which I disagreed. What was instead proposed was to see if the £99 Bronze could be reduced to a much lower price. Though it was highly unlikely that it would be decreased to £50, that was the end of the matter.

We were to be updated with the new price, if there was to be a new price in the following soon after the Board were dismissed.

The next post should be about the outcome of this meeting/ update on the price!

See you soon,

Frances x

 

welcome to my blog!

Hey!

Welcome you my blog! The pain point of this blog is so you guys know what I'm doing and what I've been up to so far this year, from day to day things to big project and campaigns I have been involved in that I really want you guys to know about!

I always say that the SU is your overall student experience here at Uni, and as I am involved with giving you a 'Kickass Membership' through sports, societies and volunteering you will defo see me around so say Hi :)

You guys are collectively why we are all here and our job is to make sure your University experience the best it can possibly be so get interactive with us and contact us about any issues/ queries you have!

See you all soon,

Frances x