I recently spoke with Ruqaiyah Javad, Vice-President for Education at City Students’ Union, to learn more about the Students’ Union (SU) and what they do.
If you’re wondering why and how you can take advantage of the wonderful opportunities available at the City SU, as well as how you can get more involved, read on!
A bit about Ruqaiyah
Ruqaiyah studied Speech and Language Therapy at City, and got involved as the VP for Education in her third year. As a VP Education, Ruqaiyah works closely with various student groups to find out what issues students may be facing with their academic life at City.
What drew Ruqaiyah to the role of VP Education
Ruqaiyah was initially a member of the Palestinian Society, where she took part in political activisim to raise awareness about Palestine. Through this role, she had a lot of contact with the SU. This allowed her to experience first hand what the SU do and the impact they facilitate for the student body.
Ruqaiyah was also the School Representative for Health Sciences. Through this she was able to appreciate what the SU does, prompting her to want a bigger, more direct involvement.
Campaigning – before and after the pandemic
As a student who was at the university when Ruqaiyah was campaigning for her role, I was very interested to hear her experience with campaigning. Ruqaiyah ran for the role twice – the second time being mostly online.
The transition was understandably strange for her, as a lot of the support available was suited for in person campaigning more so than online. It was therefore a completely new experience for Ruqaiyah, as she had to come up with creative ways to adapt those rules to be more suited for online campaigning.
When asked how she found this transition, she admitted this was more challenging, as a majority of the campaigning was done through social media. She felt this did not let people see your personality as they would in person, and so the focus was on advertising her policies to sound appealing to the student body.
However, Ruqaiyah shared with me that whilst the experience was daunting, she certainly had fun doing it!
What was her favourite thing to take part in?
In a previous post we shared some of the fun activities the City SU have done recently.
Ruqaiyah shared that she particularly enjoyed running the Islamophobia Awareness Month, which, to her as a Muslim woman, was deeply personal. She added on to this by discussing how often she feels religious minorities are excluded from a lot of activities hosted by the SU. She was happy to facilitate activities that bridged that gap, and made the SU more inclusive as they felt it should be.
Plans for the rest of the term
When I asked Ruqaiyah if there is a project coming up that she is excited about, her response was certainly something I felt some consolation hearing, as she expressed spending some time devoted to making sure that teaching is made more student friendly under the threat of potentially moving teaching back online.
She discussed taking on the feedback given by students after a purely online study course last year to make positive changes this year, for example having automatic captions or providing past papers to students. The fear of another year of online study is certainly terrifying to many of us, and so knowing the SU’s plans to facilitate that transition if it comes to it was some consolation!
She also expressed plans to make the university more inclusive by decolonising the curriculum at City, to ensure the university is equipped to deal with people from different cultures.
What top three skills do you think students should have to be involved with the SU?
Ruqaiyah shared some advice on the skills you need to develop in order to be involved with the SU in the future:
- Good listening – as you need to be able to give feedback and listen to students so that they feel they can approach you with their concerns
- Strong communicator – as you need to criticise ideas and policies respectfully, and bring forward the student viewpoint
- Leadership – as this is an elected position, it comes with a lot of responsibility, so you must be able to take a proactive role.
Finally, I asked Ruqaiyah what her biggest advice is to students who want to get involved with the SU. Ruqaiyah advised:
“Think about your interests. The SU has a variety of ways to get involved, from sports to politics.”
Each year, City students elect Student Officers. These Officers are paid and work for the Students’ Union to represent students and campaign for improvements in the student experience.
The Students’ Union’s main functions are to provide academic assistance to students, to provide support to students in need, to lobby the University and the government on issues affecting students, and to provide entertainment on campus.
Read more about our students’ experiences of the SU and student societies:
And finally check out City’s Students’ Union instagram page.