11th January 2020
Lockdown 3.0 has been announced, and we're expecting this to go on until at least March. Up to date information on what SOAS is doing with online teaching and assessment delivery, as well as what access to campus is available is up on their website. We suggest keeping an eye out for their emails, the news bulletin which normally comes out on a Tuesday and this webpage for the latest information from SOAS. SOAS have confirmed that all teaching and assessment will be online until at least reading week (22nd February)
The government has put restrictions on staying at your place of residence, social activity and meeting others outside of your household, and it is these restrictions that result in most Students' Union activity being affected. Therefore, all our planned events and activities, and our support services will continue to be held online, and similarly all Student Group. society and sports teams participation will have to remain virtual for as long as the lockdown continues, or when any restrictions are changed.
We continue to review all available guidance and further information as it becomes available, and make regular assessments on safety of students, our staff and our spaces so that when things change we're ready to make moves towards opening back up and meeting physically.
We're part of a number of SOAS committees and groups working on different aspects of creating a covid-safe SOAS with the best possible academic experience. Your Co-Presidents represent student views at all of these groups.
Much of the SU staff team is on partial furlough leave, as we work on surviving the temporary shut down of our snack & coffee shop & bar. Although this means responses might take a little bit longer at this time, we're still here & still working on providing you with advice, wellbeing support, supporting your activities, events & campaigns. Your Co-Presidents and Executive Committee are working hard as always throughout this time too. If you want to contact us use this webpage to find the right person and get in touch.
We've put together some information based on the questions we often get:
Q. Are SU democratic meetings still happen?
The Executive Committee continue to hold regular meetings online, and our Union General Meeting will be happening virtually this term. We use MS Teams & Zoom to hold all our democratic & campaigning meetings.
Q. Will the Student Union Elections still be taking place?
YAS! Our Spring Elections for Co-Presidents and Executive Committee roles for 21/22 will still be taking place during February, and like last year will take place online. For more details about the elections or to stand for one of the available roles please see our election pages
Q. Can I still access support from the Students' Union?
Yes, Susanna (our Advice Caseworker) and Lucia (our Black Student Support Coordinator) will continue to offer online video appointments on Microsoft Teams, telephone appointments and support via email. We're not able to offer face to face appointments at this point, but will continue to assess, alongside SOAS, about when it's safe to return to campus and when we can offer face to face support again. We have to take into consideration the space that we have available to hold meetings, as well as the safety of staff & students travelling to campus.
Q. When will the snack shop & bar be open?
We can't open during lockdown, and will only be able to re-open when restrictions are lifted. We are hoping to be able to re-open some of our spaces during the 3rd term and over summer, and will keep you updated about this. We can't wait until we're able to see you again!
Q. Can we use the University or Union spaces for our society/sports team? Will my society/sports team still be meeting?
Under the current lockdown restrictions, no. As in previous lockdowns we're expecting that the first restrictions to be lifted may be on sports teams being able to play sport outside. All student group activity has to remain online at this point. Groups are still holding lots of interesting events and are active online, check out our Refreshers week this week! Get in touch with Hasan (Co-President Activities & Events) or Jesse if you want help with running your society or sports group online.
Q. Will BUCS sports games be happening?
At this time, we do not have confirmation from BUCS, but it is expected that BUCS matches will be affected and may be subject to further postponement (beyond the already delayed season start of 17th February) – we will update here when more information from BUCS is forthcoming.
8th December 2020
It's been another difficult and uncertain term, with a second lockdown in the middle of it all. We've been actively involved in supporting students in Halls of Residence throughout periods of isolation, and representing student views to SOAS about online learning and issues relating to enrolment and timetables.
We've managed to have some Sports activity going on this term, in line with what's been allowed by national restrictions. It's been limited but we're glad at least something has been happening. With big thanks to our Sports Officers Emma & Alex for their hardwork in getting prepared and facilitating sport to happen in a safe way.
All other activity and events has continued online. We held a great online Freshers' Fortnight with lots of societies holding meetings & events. We've had Black History Month, and our first Black Students' Caucus of the year, plus Disability History Month. We've also recruited and trained our Student Representatives, and held our Autumn elections. We've been organising around Preventing Prevent, and holding Speed Friending throughout the term. It goes to show that there is still a lot that students can do online.
Sadly our shop & bar have remained closed throughout term 1, as it has not been safe nor financially viable to open due to the levels of people on campus so far this year.
We have had to put most of our SU staff team on partial furlough (meaning they are working 2 or 3 days/week), which is likely to continue through the first few months of the year. We're sorry if this slows down our ability to respond to your queries, however it is necessary for the ongoing financial viability of the Students' Union.
With a vaccine in sight and increased availabilty of assymptomatic testing for students, we are hopeful that some low levels of student activity will be able to start happening next term. We know by now that restrictions change quickly, and we have to be ready for potential further lockdowns and heavy restrictions after people get together over Christmas. However, we are making plans to start opening up a bit more once face to face activities resume on campus from the end of January. We'll keep you updated with what we're able and allowed to do.
30th September 2020 : Message to Clubs & Societies Committees
We’ve been working hard to get ready for 20-21 and respond to the changes in the situation and government policy. We were so sad to have to shut down all our face-to-face activity and spaces in March, it has been SO LONG and we had hoped we’d be in a different place by now. Clearly things have become more uncertain again and the risk level has increased. I’m sorry that we’ve not been able to give you this information earlier in the year, but we’re having to respond to changes over the past couple of weeks.
Our approach is to balance the safety & health of students and the community with recognising that what you do with SOAS Students’ Union is part of what makes life at SOAS worthwhile. We all need some human contact, a bit of joy and ways to care for our physical and mental health. We know that Clubs & Societies, and the activities and events you organise are a vital part of this. We know that you use SU groups, events and spaces to organise for structural changes that we need to see, and that’s a matter of survival for some of us.
We’re working on finding ways to support safe activity and provide COVID-safe spaces for you. We reject the narrative that students are rampant COVID-spreaders that can’t resist a flat party because we know we care for each other. We’ve been working with SOAS to develop their approach to returning to campus, and make sure student voices are heard when making decisions about this. We worked on the COVID safe community charter to set out what the SU undertakes to do, which includes providing COVID safe spaces, access to digital platforms, and guidance & support for student groups to run your communities
The latest changes to government policy and the increase of the COVID alert rating to level 4, plus decisions from SOAS on returning to campus means we’ve had to make changes to what we can do right now. We need to be careful, and so we’re taking a pause on bringing back face to face activities.
For that reason:
All society activities and events have to remain online with no face-to-face activity. That means that we won’t be taking any room bookings or booking any external facilities or venues at the moment.
We will review this decision at the end of October, in line with the law, the COVID alert level, and SOAS’ return to campus.
We are working towards making face-to-face activity and room bookings available with safety measures and guidance in place. The review at the end of October will consider whether it is possible to put this in place for the rest of Term 1.
All sports club face to face activities, including training and matches are paused.
We are working towards enabling outside sports, based on National Governing Body return to play guidance for each sport, and risk assessments from each of the venues/facilities we use.
We’re working on a sport-by-sport basis, and will work directly with the committees for each Club. If you want to run your Club this year you need to get in touch with us via Jesse email@example.com so that we can make these arrangements with you.
The rules on indoor sports have changed, so we will be talking to our indoor sports clubs about alternatives and working towards enabling these later in the term if possible.
Thanks to everyone who has been in touch so far and who are working with us to get sports happening again.
We’ve had to postpone our Committee training so that we could adapt to these latest changes in regulations. We’ll be in touch soon with new dates. We’ll need at least 1 committee member to attend training and to understand the safety measures and rules. As Committees you are responsible for the events and activities you organise, and the safety of the people involved. We will only be able to allow for access to budgets, room bookings and face to face activity if your committee are trained.
Last year was a huge challenge for the SU money-wise, our Bar & Shop were closed for more than half the year, and they are a big part of the income of the SU, and SOAS’ financial situation has impacted on us. We’re hopeful that things will improve this year, however at this point we just don’t know for sure what will happen. For that reason we have had to reduce Clubs & Societies budgets, and the budget that we have for facilities hire and equipment. We’ve provided all Clubs & Societies with an initial budget, and we will review this before the start of Term 2, and if we are able to we will open up for a second round of budget top-up applications. View the budget spreadsheet here.
We’re working on re-opening our spaces on campus including the JCR and the Bar, to provide COVID-safe spaces, both alcohol and alcohol-free. We are expecting to be able to open for bookings soon depending on SOAS’ return to campus plans. We are limited by the ‘rule of 6’ meaning only 6 people can meet up in the spaces, however we are hoping this will provide some opportunities for clubs & societies to meet up face-to-face in small numbers. More information on this soon.
We do have the virtual JCR Walls as a different way to share what you're up to with students.
14th September 2020
Whilst we are still physically closed SOAS Students' Union is continuing to work online, and this is going to continue on into Term 1 of 2020-21. We have lots of events coming up throughout Freshers Fortnight, from Monday 28th September, where you can meet your SU team, find out how to get involved, find out more about our sports, societies and campaigns, run to be a course rep and meet other students.
We're hopeful that we'll be able to meet in person and start doing more activities on campus - we will only do that when it's safe to do so, and we can provide COVID-safe spaces. Things change quickly, and we'll keep you up to date with our plans throughout the year - stay subscribed to our news emails, and check out our social media sites for the most up to date information.
You can read the School updates on their website or on your MySOAS page.
We still have some specific information in our Covid-19 updates webpages. There is tailored advice and information on academic information, welfare support and accommodation. We also have sections with suggestions on how to stay active during these times (petitions to sign, mutual aid groups to join, fun things to do, etc).
20th March 2020
SOAS Students' Union will be working to provide all SOAS students with support and information throughout the coming weeks. However, inevitably things will look very different around here for a while. We will continue to send all student emails to provide you with up-to-date information about SOAS and SOAS Students' Union, and will keep updating our social media. You can read the School updates on their website or on your MySOAS page.
We also encourage you to visit our sections under the 'Covid-19 updates' tab. There, we will be providing more tailored advice and information on academic information, welfare support and accommodation. We also have sections with particular information about the SU, responses to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) as well as suggestions on how to stay active during these times (petitions to sign, mutual aid groups to join, fun things to do, etc).
We know this is a distressing and anxious time. We're doing what we can to act in the best interest of our members. We will be frequently reviewing our decisions and activities, and will be following the advice and directions of SOAS and the Government.
We have got your backs!
Stay safe, take care and please be in touch.
(Photo credity: Eternity News)
This webpage was last updated on: 11 Jan 2021 12:15