By Charlotte Holdsworth – Reporter
As we write, International students are arriving on campus so we spoke to the five members of the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) to find out a little more about them. As well as having their own individual roles, the SAC are elected officers who sit on the Board of Trustees. The Board is responsible for approving motions passed at council, discussing Union strategy and ensuring the Union is financially stable.
This week it’s the turn of Tasmia Salim, the Education Officer. Tasmia looks after academic representation such as Course Reps and School Presidents, as well as dealing with academic issues.
Question: What did you study?
I did Psychology. I started off with neuropsychology but I chose to do a psychology bachelors.
Why did you choose Psychology?
I found it quite interesting to study human behaviour, like why people do things. It’s quite interesting to me.
Q: What made you choose UCLan?
I came for a campus tour and was quite impressed with the facilities that are available. The lecturer seemed really interested and passionate and that’s really important to me.
Q: What would you say your best achievement was, whilst you were a student?
For me, as much as I liked my degree, the stuff I did outside of the classroom kept me in university. So, I chaired a society in my second year and I was BME rep as well. Those things were really important to me. Representing students whose voices aren’t heard very often, such as BME student and female students. I’d get students coming to me and telling me about sexual harassment experiences and we could provide a safe space for them and that felt really important.
Q: So you were quite an active student?
Yeah, I think it was important for me to be active because there were points in my course which I found really difficult and I wanted to leave but having other things kept me here.
Q: Do you have an embarrassing or funny story from when you were a student?
On my first day I walked to the library with my dress tucked in my tights, which was embarrassing. I also have a bad habit of getting locked out of my flat.
Q: You’re our Education Officer, what made you choose to stand for that role?
Around election time I think I was frustrated with a lot of things that were going on, especially from when I was BME Rep, around the attainment gap and it was really important to me that the elections were diverse, not just the same kind of students running. I was talking to Matt Webber, he was listening to me rant about the change I wanted to see and he suggested I run for election and try and enact that kind of change. It was mainly being fed up and wanting to see change. I don’t think we’ve had a Muslim SAC before and for me it’s important to have representation. I’d love it if an Asian girl saw me and thought, actually there is a wide variety of people involved in our council and our SAC team this year. I think representation is really important.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be Education Officer?
I think the issues I am passionate about revolve around education and it was something I could change. During election and talking to students made me realise it was what I wanted.
Q: So how’s it going so far? Is it what you expected?
I think it’s about standing firm more often than not. Sometimes the University want you to do things a certain way but you need to remember at the heart of it you’re here for the students. Sometimes it can be frustrating but every little thing we do collectively contributes to the bigger picture.
Q: What have you done since you started the role?
We’ve got ‘Cut The Costs’ set in motion, we’ve got a template letter which we’ll be sending out to local MPs to get meetings set up with key people in Preston Council. I’m also doing stuff around liberating the curriculum. That’s around making the curriculum more representative: gender, sexuality, and race wise. We’ve got meetings with the Deans (of schools) to start the process.
Q: Stevie Seymour was our previous Education Officer, what do you think was his biggest achievement?
I think the anonymous marking was a brilliant move. It gets rid of any bias lecturers may have when marking. Also the changes in SSLC’s so that it’s mainly student led now.
Q: Is there anything that Stevie started that you’d like to build on?
Yes definitely, sustainable development, which is incorporating sustainability issues into the curriculum. It’s not just about recycling, it’s about teaching students to be socially responsible and environmentally responsible. Last year students really demonstrated an interested in it.
Q: Is there anything you won’t be bringing forward?
He did an education week in November but I’m going to do a similar kind of week but make it more about disability. I’ve spoken to quite a few disabled students and there seems to be a need around more awareness about disabilities.
Q: What are your own key goals for this year?
Ensuring students feedback is improved and especially in terms of shaping their curriculums. I want to make sure students know if they want something on their course, how can they make that change. I also want to help make living costs a little easier for students. To make education more accessible and less strenuous. I want to make an impact in the attainment gap for disabled students and BME students and hopefully try to bridge that gap. Also to make the university see students as real partners and not just as consumers as that ensures the education experience is the best it can be.
Q: What do you think your biggest challenge will be?
Institutional culture. Where things have been a certain way for a long time, it’s difficult to change that mind set.
Q: Which project from the Student Council are you most excited to see in action?
I am quite excited to see what’s going to happen with mature students and student parents or carers. We need to emphasise we are here for them as much as anyone else. We need to do a lot more work on that. I am excited to see what Naomi (Environmental Rep) does around environmental stuff and Renaye’s (BME Rep) got her Black History month. It’s all exciting. I’m really excited for liberation this year.
Q: Who do you think is the funniest person on the SAC team?
It’s a tie between Tom and Lucy. Tom is very sweet and just very much himself and he is very unapologetic about himself, he’s very easy going. And Lucy is just very hyper and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She makes us all laugh. She’s always making weird noises as well.
Q: If you could wave a magic wand and make one student problem go away, what would it be?
The financial barriers of education. I believe that education should be free. If someone wants to study a higher education course they should be able to and not leave university with so much debt.
Q: You’re very busy during the day, so how do you relax after work?
Netflix! I like going to the gym and seeing friends. I like going back home, and being involved in activism outside university.
Q: What do you hope to do after you’ve finished your year in the SAC?
Go back home, it’s been about four years since I’ve been back to London properly. Maybe do a Masters in Psychology. I’m open to new challenges now.
Q: If you could try one new thing at UCLan this year what would it be?
I want to join a sports team, I haven’t decided which one though. I’ve been involved in lots of societies so I’d like to get involved in sports.
Q: Can you give us the details of the next immediate thing you’re working on?
‘Cut the Costs’ and training our School Presidents and Course Reps. We want to get student testimonies, we want students to tell us how the maintenance grants and loans help them.