It’s that time of year again when I realise Christmas is less than a month away and I am literally nowhere near prepared – looks like it’ll be another year of gifting my parents with my presence #gifted.
So why have I been so busy and left all my Christmas shopping to the last minute yet again? Here’s a little President update to let you know what I’ve been up to recently.
First of all, COP26. In case you didn’t know (even though it was all I was spamming about on the SU Presidents Instagram account that week), I went to the COP26 conference in Glasgow at the beginning of November, and what an experience that was! Attending panel discussions and workshop exhibitions hosted by climate scientists and politicians invited from all across the world, reminded me not only of my passion for environmental sciences (my degree), but also why acting now is so critical if we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C. I was fortunate enough to access both the Blue Zone and the Green Zone of the conference but nothing quite compared to the optimistic energy and power that I witnessed on the streets of Glasgow as I marched with Greta for #Fridaysforfuture.
After returning from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I considered my individual impact for minimising the effects of the climate crisis and reflected on the climate goals set out by the University of Exeter. Realising that our net-zero commitment for 2050 mirrors that of the entirety of the U.K., I urged for these to be reviewed to reflect a more ambitious but still realistic approach for our targets. I am proud to announce that this re-evaluation is widely supported, and these improved goals are currently being negotiated!
A key theme I observed throughout the COP26 conference was the importance of embedding sustainability into the curriculum. For many courses taught at the University of Exeter, sustainability and climate studies are already interwoven throughout most modules offered at the Penryn campus. Though this is not the case for all. Offering students the opportunity to complete their degree with proficiency in sustainable/climate studies (like you would be awarded if you studied a language alongside of your degree) is a project I am currently working on and hope to implement in the near future. This would be the first of its kind to be offered in the U.K as an additional accreditation to university degrees.
In terms of tackling the 2nd class narrative commonly associated with the Cornwall campuses, progress in achieving this manifesto priority is difficult to evaluate. Institutionally, we are becoming more recognised with each meeting I attend and remind them of our student voice from here in Cornwall. However, there are still many areas for improvement which I will continue to focus on in the new year. Tackling this narrative on an institutional scale will be a long-term challenge that will continue beyond my term as President Exeter, but I hope that my efforts will kick-start the necessary changes required to achieve equality across our campuses.
On the topic of campus equality... inspired by the night bus service that has recently been set up at Exeter, which safely transports students to and from campus into the city centre until early hours of the morning, I hope to establish a similar service in Cornwall to improve the inclusivity of our Truro campus. Offering Truro students the opportunity to share the same nightlife and socials as those experienced in Penryn and Falmouth will be a progressive step in improving the integration of students from both Cornwall campuses.
Other projects I have supported this term include the personal safety support we have provided at your Students’ Union. Working with the team, the Students’ Union have supplied personal safety kits to many students in response to current matters, most notably the cases of drink spiking. These kits have been greatly appreciated by you as students and we hope to supply more in the future which you can register your interest using this form. Additionally, Charlotte (SU President Welfare & Inclusivity) and I have also created a Progress & Inclusion Forum to better connect with you on matters regarding equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI). Our first forum was held on the 16th of November and focused on personal safety. We hope our next forum will be held at the beginning of the new year, with a different theme to focus on based on new matters arising.
So there you have it - this has been my “short” President update, and hopefully you’ll be looking forward to the Christmas break just as much as me at this point. I cannot express how ready I am to be in the French Alps, skiing my worries away and après-ing until I forget how much Christmas shopping I have left to do lol. See y’all in the new term ??