The Students’ Union exists to defend and extend our rights: we campaign throughout the year on a range of issues at a course, college, university and national level; improving the lives of our members and the shape of wider society. Whether it is working with course reps or fighting against cuts to the arts, we strive to ensure that creative campaigning is at the heart of our organisation.
Below are some of the current campaigns we’re running and you'll find the latest updates on our campaign activity on our blog. Whether you want to be more actively involved in our campaign actions, have ideas about what issues the union should be campaigning on or just want some more information about what it is that we do, please get in touch.
In the UK, sexual consent is currently not taught as a fundamental aspect of mainstream sex education. It is therefore important that we teach students about consent, and take positive steps to tackle myths, misunderstandings and problematic perspectives about rape, sexual consent and sexual harassment which exists on campus.
A National Union of Students (NUS) report, published last September, found that more than a third of female university students have been inappropriately touched or groped. This is part of a society-wide problem where rape is repeatedly blamed on the actions of the victim, less than 15% of cases are reported, and conviction rates are worryingly low. We want to empower students to create a healthy and positive understanding of consent; where people must not feel ashamed to willingly engage in or reject sexual activity, and to normalise the act of acknowledging and respecting people’s personal boundaries.
We will be implementing annual consent training for student groups, including committee members of sports and societies, Halls Welfare Mentors, Social Reps, Students' Union Staff and SU Reps.
You can get involved by becoming an I Heart Consent Volunteer and help facilitate these workshops. This is an excellent opportunity for students to develop your communication skills, confidence, and to get to know others by working together as part of a team. You will also enhance your knowledge and understanding of issues around consent and rape culture, and play a part in helping to create change on campus.
If you're interested in becoming an I Heart Consent Volunteer or would like us to run a training workshop for a particular group of students, get in touch with your Welfare Officer, Scarlett Langdon: email@example.com
Did you know that UAL has on average the most expensive Halls of Residence out of every university in London?
The average rent for a single room at UAL halls is far above the private sector average, and more than the maximum student loan. How the university expects students to pay for this is a mystery, particularly if you take into account the additional 'hidden' costs of studying.
Last year, we launched our first ever student survey, Your Hall, Your Call, asking students to consider the overall quality and experience of their time in halls. With over 400 responses it is clear that the halls of residence are too expensive, and can leave students struggling to get by. Many students don't have the choice to live 'at home', and others will be forced to find cheaper alternative accommodation in the private-rented sector, which can lave students vulnerable to rogue landlords and estate agents, and isolated from their peers.
We are calling on UAL to implement an affordability strategy for students from low income backgrounds, as well as refurbishing the older halls of residence, monitoring the extra charges students are billed with from on the spot cleaning inspections and general wear and tear, and improving the maintenance and response time.
If you have a housing experience you want to tell us about, whether you couldn't afford halls and were forced into private accommodation, or your halls had no water for three days, we'd love to hear your experiences.
Doing an arts degree leaves many students out of pocket. On top of the extortionate tuition fees and living costs in London, students have to cover the costs of materials, printing and often technical equipment such as cameras and laptops. Then there are additional fees for study trips, graduation ceremonies… And yet UAL still dares to take a commission of up to 20% out of your degree show sales.
We’re calling for UAL to inform students in advance about the costs they will face. We’re also asking the University to look at ways of easing the financial burden, for example by subsidising free printing, introducing a materials allowance and making more equipment available for hire at all colleges. Furthermore, we demand that UAL scrap the commission on artwork sold at degree shows and allow you to keep the money you earn.
If you want to be involved in this campaign, please contact your Campaigns Officer, Anastazja Oppenheim: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the 2015 emergency budget, George Osborne announced the government’s plans to scrap maintenance grants for students from low-income families and replace them with higher loans. If this policy passes, it will leave the poorest students with the highest debts. It is also likely to put many people off doing arts degrees, studying in London, and even going to university at all.
SUARTS believes that the propose changes would have a devastating impact on students from working-class backgrounds, who are already struggling to make ends meet during their degrees. Therefore, alongside the National Union of Students, we are campaigning to save the grants. We will be lobbying our MPs and calling the government not to cut this essential lifeline.
Read more about this campaign on our blog and contact your Campaigns Officer, Anastazja Oppenheim, to get involved: email@example.com