Posted on Wed 27 Sep 2017 at 16:22 by Megan Barnsley
I believe introductions are in order!
Hi - my name's Luke Renwick and I'm the current elected President for Sheffield Hallam Students' Union.
I've created this blog to act as a bridge between us as students' union officers and you - the staff of Sheffield Hallam University. Every 1-2 months, a different officer from the students' union will be writing a post on their respective areas or a particular current issue. Through my time as a part-time rep, and then full time position as Education Officer last year at the students' union, I noticed that we could be doing a lot more to inform university staff of what we actually do as a students' union, the opportunities we provide, and why we should all be promoting the students' union to our students and that's how this blog came to be!
Students' Unions have always been known as the radical, values driven organisations that have been the lifeblood of the student experience. Hallam has been no exception to this rule, for example, renaming our SU building the "Nelson Mandela Building" in 1982 and actively campaigning for his release while he was still imprisoned under the apartheid regime. More often than not, students unions have stayed ahead of the curve in terms of social progress and justice. A recent quote by current National Union of Students (NUS) Vice-President of Union Development Ali Milani said "I am proud to lead a student movement that has behind it a history of fighting for global peace and justice. A National Union that so often speaks out even when society isn’t ready". I too am proud to now lead a students' union with such a vibrant history of activism and social justice, traits which we must continue to foster in the modern world. Engagement with the students' union enables students to become global citizens forming multi-cultural and accepting campuses, an essential reason to promote the SU to our students.
All students stand to gain from interacting with their students' union as those who form relationships through activities in the students' union are shown to have increased retention rates with their studies. Education can be a transformational experience for all those who receive it - I know this first hand from my own experience at Sheffield Hallam University. The knowledge I have gained and the learning experience I have received will stay with me for the rest of my life. However, the course I was taught only made up a percentage of my overall time at University. It was the extra-curricular activities at the students' union that were promoted to me through my course that rounded off my overall university experience. The students' union engaged me in politics, activism, societies, social activities, volunteering, and more - something I'd compare to a grassroots citizenship education.
As the elected President of the students' union, I ask you as academic and professional staff members to encourage students' to utilise the opportunities we provide wherever possible to help not only themselves, but their retention, their employment prospects, and the diverse communities around us.