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 jd124@soas.ac.uk 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. 

Committee Training 

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. 

Budgets 

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. 

Spaces 

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: 30 Sep 2020 10:47