Amy Fox

Writer. Editor. Bad at blogging.


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Concrete: New Union constitution to improve student democracy

Union Council has approved the first draft of the Union of UEA Students’ (UUEAS) new constitution, which will allow students more say in how the union is run.

The constitution must be reviewed every five years by the union. If approved by the university on 20 May, the most significant change will be the transferal of policies which were previously part of the constitution to by-laws, making them more easily changed and contested by students.

The by-laws which directly affect students include society constitutions and codes of conduct for socials, including the advice “Don’t get too carried away … If the police are speaking to you relating to your behaviour you have gone way too far”, and the rules “Do not urinate, defecate or vomit anywhere apart from in a toilet!” and “Do not carry out ‘initiation’ ceremonies”.

Policy dictating the procedure for complaints about union services, including societies and clubs will also be easier to change, as well as disciplinary procedures such as the ability to suspend clubs and societies.

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Concrete: UEA to defer Syrian students’ fees

The University has said that it will be deferring fees “where possible” for Syrian students that are struggling financially, but it will not waive fees altogether despite a petition of almost 300 signatures.

SyriaSyrians protest Assad’s regime in Times Square, NYC last March. Photo: Flickr / asterix611.

Pro-vice-chancellor Prof. Nigel Norris met with representatives of the Union of UEA Students (UUEAS) and Syrian students to discuss the matter last Friday (22/3). The students have been assured that they will not be automatically expelled if they are unable to pay.

A statement from the University said: “All cases will be looked at individually and fee deferrals agreed where possible. A member of staff from the Dean of Students’ office is meeting each of the affected students individually and discussing appropriate options and support with them.”

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Concrete: Police warn of potential thefts over Easter

Home Run is asking students to remove any letting agency billboards from outside their houses during the Easter period.

Police warn of potential thefts over Easter

Photo: Albert Bridge

Norfolk Constabulary have warned the Union of UEA Students that previous years have seen an increased number of break-ins during the Easter holidays.

The Union’s Student Support Services manager Jo Spiro said: “Billboards with ‘Student Properties – Rooms to Let’ are an easy way for opportunistic thieves to decide which house might be easy to break into and where they might find multiple laptops and TVs.

“If your house will be empty over Easter ask your landlord or agent if you can temporarily remove the billboard.”

For more advice and information go to ueastudent.com/housing.


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Concrete: Chief executive resigns from Union

The Union’s chief executive Derek Bowden has announced that he will be resigning from his position in order to start a new job at Essex County Cricket Club.

In a statement released on 4 February, the Union stated: “The Trustee Board would like to thank Derek for his hard work during his 18 months in charge, particularly with regard to the reduction in the organisation’s budget deficit.

“The date of Derek’s departure will be confirmed once a successful handover to an interim Chief Executive can be arranged.

Bowden will be taking up the post of chief executive at Essex County Cricket Club early in the season, which officially begins on 10 April.

Speaking to essexcricket.org.uk, he said: “I’m really looking forward to joining the team at Essex and working with them to create the success that Essex Cricket deserves.”

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Concrete: University refuses to fly Pride flag

The Union of UEA students has said that it feels “great disappointment” over a decision by UEA not to fly the Pride flag in February to mark the beginning of LGBT+ History Month.

In an open letter of response to the University’s decision, LGBT+ officer Richard Laverick said the Union felt that flying the flag “would send a clear message to LGBT+ students, staff and visitors, that they are most welcome and can expect to be treated equally and respectfully on campus. Furthermore it would strengthen its commitment to ensuring the safety and rights of its students, regardless of sexuality or gender identity. Finally it would signal to all people its unwavering stance against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.”

In the Union’s LGBT+ student experience survey last year, 83% said they wanted the University to fly the flag. Other institutions to do so in previous years include the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich City Council, Norwich Castle, East Anglian NHS Trust, The Co-Operative, Wadham College (Oxford University) and the University of Reading.

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Concrete: First buses want your complaints

The 25/25A bus services were late 15% of the time from October to December 2012, and as often as 40% on 14 December, the final day of UEA’s Autumn term.

Chelsea de Silva, regional PR & marketing manager for the South East and Midlands, cited several reasons for the delays when speaking to Concrete in December. Most of the problems related to the “teething time” following the system change in September. “One of the biggest issues we’ve had, not just on the blue services but on all of them, is drivers understanding 1) the routes 2) the new ticket machines, which were brought in August/September … at the moment it’s just taking time for our drivers, some of whom have been with us 25-35 years, to go from one system to another. And it just so happened that that came in at the same time as the network revision. So that, tied in with the learning of the routes, meant there were massive gaps in between buses of late running.” Additional training for drivers has been provided.

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Concrete: Gender neutral toilets at UEA

The Union of UEA Students has passed policy to introduce gender neutral toilets in Union House in order to accommodate for those who do not identify within the male-female gender binary.

Photo: Chris Teale

The vote, which responds in part to findings of the Union’s recent LGBT+ survey, was approved by Union Council with 55 votes in favour and just 16 against (plus one abstention).

Although the budget is yet to be confirmed, the plans for Union House have already been drafted. Firstly, the womens’ toilets on floor one near the advice centre will be converted into a campaigns store room, with the large mens’ facilities becoming gender neutral. This means that there will be cubicles much like in standard womens’ toilets, but available to everyone.

Depending on funding the next stage will be the facilities in the Hive, which the Union plans to merge into one large gender-neutral space, removing the urinals from the mens’. The LCR toilets will remain segregated, so that students will have the option to use male, female or gender-neutral facilities across the Hive/LCR area.

The final stage will include the toilets in the Blue and Red bars. However, as these are the most recently renovated, they are currently the lowest priority.

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