New Year, New Start!

5 September 2020

Written by Hattie Tollerson


As we start the countdown to the new term, your students’ union president Hattie Tollerson welcomes every student to the beginning of the 2020 academic year, talks all-things COVID19 and introduces you to your new look union.


As your students’ union president I wanted to be the very first to welcome you, whether you’re a new or returning student, to the beginning of the 2020 academic year at LSBU! It’s fair to say a lot has changed since the end of last term and I am so excited to be able to introduce you to your new students’ union.

Over the past year the whole team at South Bank has been working extremely hard to change the way your union runs. We’ve created a renewed mission and purpose for the union and put together a fresh new look to everything we do. All of this work is about ensuring we are much more relevant and responsive to every student at LSBU. Culminating in the launch of our new, locally inspired, and vibrant brand in the last few days, it’s our aim to show everyone that we are here, back with a plan and ready to help you have a great time at uni that you’ll never forget!

It’s also fair to say it’s pretty inescapable to ignore the current times we’re all living through. Globally and locally, we are all learning to adapt to new working and living environments - and it’s the same for us as your students’ union. When Rabbi, Ferdous, Joel and I were elected back in March as your student officer team, everyone was still on campus and doing all the things they normally would - whether that was going to society meet-ups, playing sports, socialising, studying or getting ready for exams without being surrounded by hand sanitiser! We were also preparing lots of amazing plans for the new year and working on how we could deliver the manifestos that you had elected us on - and then, suddenly, everything changed, and the world stopped.

In the last month since taking up office, we have recognised that a changed world means many of our priorities have changed too. This means some of the campaigns we had wanted to launch, and a lot of the work we had planned, whilst still incredibly important to us, has been overtaken by other urgent and pressing issues. We’ve quickly had to think about things in a different way and get to grips with how we can still support students and provide activities and opportunities virtually, and at a distance. We’ve been raising issues like the quality of online teaching and the student experience with the university and seeking to ensure that you can still access the help and support you need. And we’ve been discussing how we can help welcome new students to the university, in the middle of a global pandemic.

As a result the year ahead is looking very different to how many of us imagined it. But whilst a lot of things have changed, we are still determined to do whatever we can and whatever it takes to ensure that every student at LSBU is represented and can have a great time in the year ahead - no matter what comes our way. 

Whether that’s supporting societies and clubs to build and offer communities online, providing virtual events and support and amplifying your views and ideas - we are making sure that as your students’ union, students are at the centre of everything we do. So what’s next? Well, we've launched a programme of totally free online events that you can be a part of over the next few weeks and you can sign-up to our mailing list and follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for more as it comes and be the first to know! 

We can’t wait to get started.

But what even is a students’ union?

For those of you who are new to LSBU, or even if you’re returning, you might be confused about what your students’ union is and what it is for, so let me explain. We represent the academic interests of all 18,000 students at London South Bank University, and work on issues that matter to you. Whether running campaigns, hosting events or providing opportunities and activities, it’s our mission to help every student have a great time at LSBU that you’ll never forget - but what does all that mean in real life?

When I started my first year studying politics as an undergrad, I moved into LSBU’s accommodation and in all honesty, I didn’t immediately feel at home. At times I was seriously considering transferring to a different uni. But ultimately, the thing that made me want to continue at LSBU was the amazing support networks and friendships that I built up from throwing myself into the many student opportunities that the union facilitates. The union gave me the opportunity to meet students in different year groups who were able to support me at times when I was looking for help. They guided me to talk with my Course Directors and gave me the confidence to speak to university staff who helped me feel valued as a student. All of these people worked with me to address the issues that I and other students on my course were facing and I had a better time because of it.

To put it simply - your students’ union can help you when you have questions and need help. It can help you find yourself and your voice. It can help you do the things you love - both in and outside of your study. Ultimately, and the reason why I am so passionate about this is, it can also mean the difference between staying in education, succeeding and graduating, or not.

I am so glad that I stayed at LSBU. I continued my studies but I also became a Course Rep, took on other responsibilities and part time roles with the union in my second and third years, and ultimately decided to run in the campus-wide elections to become a student officer. I am immensely proud to be able to champion student issues and stories and be able to give a bigger platform to the things that are really important. When there are so many barriers that we need to bring down so that every student can have a great experience at university, I feel really privileged to be a student officer and to be part of my students’ union and have the opportunity to work on all of these issues.

So as we head towards September, and whilst COVID19 will affect a lot of what we can do this year, I am so excited about what we have planned and the opportunity to meet and work with you all. Where things can’t be quite as we’d like them, I also promise to be open and honest with you and keep you updated. But most of all, whilst we know this year will be very different, I believe that this is an opportunity. A year to rethink everything we do. A chance to start fresh and a reason to get even more involved than ever and find out everything your union and university has to offer.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list and our social channels if you haven’t already! You can also email us on hello@lsbsu.org at any time and visit our officer pages to get in touch with each of us individually if and when you need to.

We can’t wait to see you!

Hattie

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