Ash's 2023 Round-up

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It feels weird to write this goodbye article as I feel like I am still just starting out, but here we go! I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who supported me throughout the year, and all students at Aberystwyth University – it has honestly been one of the best years of my life. It has been an absolute pleasure to be Aberystwyth Student’s Union President for 2022-2023 and I want to say for the final time, thank you for allowing me to have this opportunity and work with some truly incredible people. Being AberSu’s President for this year also meant I was representing students during the 150 years anniversary of the University which I have really valued. This last year has been a whirlwind of experiences and although there has certainty been some difficult and challenging times, I have done everything with students in my heart and I really hope you are able to see this.  

I was overwhelmed when I was elected to the role with mixed emotions of pure excitement and terror. I really wanted to make sure I made this year in office the best and most influential I could possibly make it. I wanted to make a difference for students lives here at Aberystwyth and so I want to share some of the stuff I have gotten up to this year. I am sorry if I don’t mention something we have collaborated in, but I want to say I have loved every experience to collaborate with students and you are not forgotten. 

I had three priorities this year which I wanted to firstly give an update on. I am vey pleased with the progress made on all three of them. The first one was to take part and complete Green Impact done through SOS (Students Organising for Sustainability). There was a lot of trial and error with this project this year as it is the first time we have done it in many years. I am very pleased with the support from the student population on this and happy to announce that everything was submitted, and we are now working through the is auditing process. This was defiantly a challenging project due to how much was needed to be done but we as a union are very happy with the submission and have learned the best way to do things going forward for years to come. My second priority was all about sexual health. While running for President, I spoke to a few students about what they would like to see. One thing that came up a few times was that the Union don’t currently do a lot about sex and that they would like to see this. From this I begun organising a SHAG Week (Sexual health and Guidance week) which took place in November. This week was based on feedback and ideas that came forward from students and I was amazed at the amount of engagement it received. I am also very happy to announce that the SHAG Campaign received an NUS Wales recognition award and has been passed at the Union Senedd to make SHAG Week an annual event. It will be great to see how this campaign can be shaped year on year based on what students want. My last priority was role model positive behaviours and support the union values, representing students. I did this through many a meeting with the University, making sure that students were kept at the forefront of all ideas and processes.  

Part of my role has been to help with campaigns that happen throughout the year. I have loved this side of my role so much and have put as much effort in as possible to make sure liberation groups are being represented in the Union and University. I helped organised the Unions Disability History Month, organising a panel discussion between students, past students, student services and a member from Disability Wales to discuss disability in higher education. Although not as well attended as we had hoped, it raised a numerous issue with Student Support on disability and I am aware that they have been working hard to rectify these. I also supported with LGBT+ History month, posting about LGBT + history as well as organising an event in the union which was very well attended. We made the maximum number of pre-sign ups to 100 students, an amount I never thought we would reach, so that fact we had way over 100 students sign up and attend really took me back and made me really realise how much I loved my job. That night was defiantly one of my highlights for the year. I also support Union staff in Student Money Week and International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia.  

At the beginning of the year, I paired up with Mind our Future who are a charity organisation funded by the lottery to investigate mental health in young people in Ceredigion. This partnership has been truly incredible, not only as they heavily funded the LGBT+ Celebration event and the Eco day with Aber Crafts, but because they have shared some student views with us which has been insightful. It has been great partnering with them, and I hope this partnership with the Union continues.  

There are a few other things I have worked on this year, and I would love to go into depth about all of them, but I am wary about making this article too long. I have loved all the training and conference at other unions as it has allowed me to make great connections in the student movement as well as working with AberSu’s Volunteer Officers who have been incredible this year. I also want to say a massive thank you to the other Full-time officers. They have been truly great this year and I feel I have loved this year because of them. I have made some great friends in them, and I wish them all the luck in the future.  

So, what’s next? I started this year with a clear plan for my future and what I wanted to do. Let’s just say a couple months into this job that all went upside down. I knew I would like this job and I knew I wanted to do well in it – I never anticipated how much I would enjoy this and that I would want to make this into my career. But here we are, and I will be starting as Aber Student’s Union Campaigns and Democracy Coordinator this July – you can’t get rid of me that easily aha. I am so excited to work with the incoming Full-time officers and am thrilled to see what work and ideas they bring to the union.  

Once again, thank you for making this such a great year. It has been a pleasure.  

- Ash 

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