Happy Black History Month everyone! It’s officially October which means a few different things here at JMSU. It marks the start of Black History Month, meaning we have a whole host of exciting events coming up for you this month from panel talks to book clubs, all aimed at amplifying Black voices and celebrating Black culture! It is also the start of the first term Part-Time Officer and NUS Delegates Elections, meaning we’re looking for eight Part-Time Officers and six NUS Delegates to represent, champion and celebrate their communities!🥳 💪
Last but not least, this week is Making Change week here at JMSU. We are champions of change, we make it our priority to work closely with LJMU students to find out what issues are most important to you and ensure those issues are taken seriously! As a result, we have created a lot of change at LJMU over the past few years! From providing period products in all toilets across our campuses to help end period poverty, to launching our Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme to improve the BAME student experience and close the Black Attainment Gap, all aimed making sure our students have the most positive experience they can possibly have.
Making change is something we’re passionate about, we know there is always work to be done to improve the experience of every single student to make sure everyone has equal access to opportunity and success. This is our mission, and it will continue to be our mission for as long as it takes! So, we’re going to talk you through some of JMSU’s biggest achievements over the past few years and tell you all of the ways we’ve worked with our students to create change and improve the student experience across LJMU.
Headed up by former JMSU President Julia Daer, and continuously championed by our Executive Officer Team, the Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme was introduced to open up a two-way conversation between our BAME students and LJMU staff. Unlike traditional mentoring, this scheme relies on being reciprocal, meaning both participants are the mentees and the mentors. The Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme has been crucial for allowing our BAME students a space to talk openly and honestly about their university experience which allows us and the university to take those issues on board and work towards fixing them.
The Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme has been hugely successful and is Julia Daer’s proudest achievement during her time as JMSU president. As with all schemes, programmes and services we implement at JMSU, it can be difficult to gauge how popular they will be or if they will be as useful as we intend them to be. The Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme is a success story in these terms. Many of our students signed up to the scheme and began to have open, frank conversations about things they weren’t necessarily being heard on beforehand. Many of the pairs have kept in touch even after the students have graduated and we are so proud to say that we have all learnt so much in the process.
Initially introduced in 2018, the Period Poverty campaign launched to help tackle period poverty at LJMU. Period poverty is a global issue and an issue that we all must work together to tackle. People who menstruate have no choice but to use menstrual hygiene products, their menstrual cycles don’t particularly care how much money they have in their bank accounts or what their socioeconomic status is, they come either way. Unfortunately for many students, this means that in the case where they don’t have access to menstrual hygiene products, they are forced to miss their studies to deal with their periods in private.
The Period Poverty Campaign was a huge success and as a result, we were able to provide all of the toilets that people who menstruate have access to with a constant supply of menstrual hygiene products, across every campus. Thanks to this campaign, any student who unexpectedly starts their period while at university, and any student that can’t access menstrual hygiene products will be able to do so at LJMU, free of charge.
Something we have been so proud to champion over the past few years is the introduction of free language courses at LJMU for all students. After noticing the lack of opportunity for our students to learn new languages which will inevitably help them if they travel, study or work abroad, we worked with LJMU to introduce Rosetta Stone language courses to the LJMU libraries.
Languages are invaluable, particularly for students who are preparing to enter the job market and want that extra boost to their CV. It is also an incredibly useful skill to have to be able to communicate and thrive in our incredibly diverse and multicultural society, but learning a new language with certified training was often something that was inaccessible and costly. All of our students have 24-hour access to Rosetta Stone with absolutely zero extra cost and can be accessed anywhere through the LJMU digital library. All you have to do is sign in via the LJMU website and you’re on your way to learning a new language!
Back in February, we celebrated Sustainability Week here at JMSU and across the university, and as a result, we officially declared a climate emergency because of the detrimental impact we’re all having on our planet. This is an issue we take very seriously because, well, there is no planet B! Ever since we have been implementing campaigns and programmes with the sole purpose of reducing the impact that LJMU and JMSU are having on the environment. Our VP Community Engagement Megan Hill ran some incredible initiatives during Sustainability Week, including trialling Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees for searches!
After trialling the service across the university during Sustainability Week, we were able to plant over 3,000 trees and all we had to do was temporarily switch our default search engine. There are so many ways to help the environment and they don’t all have to take tonnes of effort! It is important that we all play our part in helping to be more sustainable, we all have a responsibility to look after the planet and make sure it’s still around for future generations.
The implementation of lockdown and the closure of the university at the beginning of the pandemic was unprecedented, difficult and anxiety-inducing for everyone. Both students and faculty had never experienced this kind of situation before and making sure everyone was safe and supported was the highest priority of both LJMU and JMSU. Another priority was making sure that students didn’t suffer any detriment to their grades, particularly because face-to-face teaching had to be temporarily halted. The JMSU Executive Officer Team, as well as being students that were as unsure of the situation as everyone else, had the extra responsibility of reassuring students that this wouldn’t negatively impact their grades.
JMSU President Lila Tamea and the rest of the team worked very closely with the university to ensure that the no detriment policy was fair for all students, no matter their circumstance. After the university announced a policy that would have a negative impact on post-graduate students, our Executive Officer Team challenged this, asked for justification, and fought hard to ensure all students received the same support. After failing to justify the gap, both undergraduate and postgraduate students received the same policy and were able to achieve the fairest grades possible given the circumstances.
We are so incredibly proud to be champions of change, and we are so proud to always pass the microphone to our students so that your voice can be heard. If you want to take part in creating change and represent a community, why not run in the first term Part-Time Officer & NUS Delegates Election? Applications close on October 14, so get to work on your manifestos! Alternatively, if you have a great idea on how we can improve your experience, visit Your Ideas here to submit your idea!