On Wednesday 7th March, the Students' Union held its first Student Members Meeting - a change to the annual AGM of yesteryear.
If you're more of a social whizz and want to see the happenings as they happened via our Twitter feed, simply search for the hashtag #StaffsSMM2018 to see more.
In the Collision Space in the Mellor Building, a number of students, Officers, Leadership Race candidates and Union Staff gathered to discuss various things from the 2016/17 academic year, the 2017/18 academic year and times ahead, accompanied by pizza from our partners at Domino's.
Firstly, this years Leadership Race candidates briefly introduced themselves and revealed their slogans for their upcoming campaigns. Most, if not all of the candidates attended and contributed to disccusion.
Finances for the 2016/17 academic year and this academic year were discussed, such as operating costs covering student staffing, cost of goods, licensing and more.
Darren covered and explained the Students' Union's change to a CIO, meaning that the Union is now a legal entity in its own right, trustees are appointed for their skills and balance to the board, with their personal financial liability limited, so the Union Assets and liabilities are held in the name of the Union rather than individuals.
This does mean that we are still regulated by the Charity Comission and are still accountable to the University Board of Governors, under the Education Act.
Discussion then moved on to some great stats for the last academic year, with us selling just under 40,000 tickets to 170 events, retaining our Best Bar None award, accumulating 55,000 hours of student employment and our outlets making up for 70% of Unicard transactions last year.
We also advised 1000+ unique students, had over 2,500 members actively participating in decision making and we are in the top quartile for effectively represention academic interests according to the National Student Survey last year.
The University being awarded the 'Most Improved Student Experience' was mentioned, highlighting the judges mentioning the contributions of 'a good Students' Union, excellent extracurricular and society activites and attractive accomodation'.
Talk then turned to the current academic year and funding, where we revealed that we'd increased funding for Student Activity by 22%, Student Advice and Information by a whopping 44% and Employability and HR by 8%.
As well as this, we also improved Ember, gave Verve and Squeezebox a little face lift and re-equip and provided our media groups OMG and Staffs TV with upgrades.
The Officers then discussed the Trustee Report on the Union's Strategic Progess - which each of them lead on and collaborate with each-other to better the experience of students at Staffs;
'Positive Impact', which Darren is the lead for. For this, we re-introduced Money Doctors, focused on Impact and Insight, produced further insight and support in regards to Mental Wellness and Ask for Help. We're still working on the creation of a Student Mediation Service.
'Power to Change', which Sam is the lead for. For this, we've re-focused Academic Representation for schools and re-instigated the Student Representative Council. We've also made progress on feedback, access to facilities and resources and SAPs and Digital Champions, but still have further to go until our aims our met.
'Competitive Edge', which Swetha leads on. For this, we've partnered with the University for Careersfest to have build an effective impact, but still have work to do on the creation of an award for building employability skills, the Sport at Staffs development and improved placement experiences and opportunities.
'Belonging', which Tash leads on. We've delivered "You Can", building from the #thisgirlcan campaign and pushed for gender neutral sports. We've also spiralled orenitation into the university experience. We're still working on auto-enrolment into academic societies for all students, our outreach and partnership initiatives and having a vibrant campus.
And 'Quality Union', where we have reinvested in the Ember Lounge and retail outlets, undertaken a benchmark assessment for the NUS QSU, and have increased National Representation and influence in the National Union of Students. We're still working on our Sustainability Agendea for campus improvements (we're currently in the middle of Go Green Week!) and transparency surrounding the University and Union finances - something which has recently been made compulsory by the Office For Students, and something that Sam had campaigned for in last year's Leadership race.
There were then discussions or debates on a couple of things, with the first being 'Should your Union support a vote on a specific Brexit deal?' which included the discussion of the #FFS (For Our Future's Sake) movement.
Discussion centered around remaining neutral, how this would effect EU students and UK students studying in the EU. A vote was taken and the motion is passed, with Staffs Union being one of the first to support a vote on a specific Brexit deal.
On a lighter note, discussion moved on to 'What should this year's post-exam party event look like?'.
This discussed whether the post-exam party should cover an act, an experience or both, and Officers revealed that discussions are in place surrounding a day and night time event, to ensure all student members have an experience.
Vice-President Sam Pillow said: "Thank you to everyone that was there or tuned in.
We discussed lots of meaningful topics and loved your suggestions.
If you have any more, let us know!"
Overall, the afternoon meeting offered some great discussions, debates and input from all who attended over some delicious pizza.