The Summer 2022 Warwick Student Union All Student Vote (ASV) is currently open, and closes Friday 20 May at 12pm. This article outlines the two motions you can vote on, as brought to the ASV by the Student Council. You can vote by logging in to the SU website.
Motion 1. ‘Warwick Wellbeing Strategy Review’
The first Student Union (SU) motion calls for the University “to open an investigation into the effectiveness of their Wellbeing Strategy”, describing the University’s current Wellbeing Strategy as a “failure”.
In doing so, the Union points to eight primary complaints, many of which stem from the University’s plans to change the Residential Life Team (RLT) system, something the SU opposes. The SU also points to three student suicides that occurred on campus over a period of three weeks during the spring of 2021, before going on to claim that the frequency of student suicides at the University of Warwick is “substantially higher than the national average”.
The Boar has been unable to verify these claims.
What does the motion suggest?
In response to the SU complaints above, the SU’s motion calls upon “the Vice-Chancellor and the University Executive Board to open an investigation into the effectiveness of the University’s Wellbeing Strategy”. As part of this, they would look to “identify the flaws of the current Wellbeing Strategy”, and use such findings to consult and reform such areas.
Alongside this, the motion calls for a separate investigation “into the state of wellbeing at Warwick”, which would look to gather “a broad range of testimony and evidence from students, staff, and other relevant parties, to aid in devising a revised Wellbeing Strategy for the university”.
Among other points, this motion looks to reaffirm other positions of the SU, like its continued opposition to the University’s proposed replacement of the Residential Life Team.
The University released a short statement to The Boar about their Wellbeing Support system: “It’s vital that we continue to encourage people to ask for support and specialist help when they’re struggling – often privately – with their mental health.
“At Warwick, we’re spending around £2.6m a year on wellbeing services for our students. This includes a range of specialist support services – including counselling and psychological, emotional and practical wellbeing support, mental health mentoring, as well as access to in-person support through personal tutors, a residential team, and 24/7 digital mental health provision.
“We’ve made additional support available during the pandemic to help our students navigate their way through what has been an unprecedented period of disruption and challenge. And we have adopted the Universities UK/ Papyrus framework for ‘Suicide Safer Universities’ and implemented the practical steps the charity recommends universities should take to help prevent suicides.
“We remain committed to continuing to identify ways of improving and strengthening our processes further, which includes working in close partnership with our community and mental health specialists.”
Motion 2: ‘Save the RLT: Halt Staff Evictions and Protect Campus Welfare Support’
What the motion is asking for
This motion asks for voters to support halting the ‘implementation’ of a replacement system for the Residential Life Team.
The SU has previously announced it is against the changes.
More specifically, it wants students to give the SU President a mandate to write to Vice-Chancellor Stuart Croft to unanimously pause the proposals, and delay a year so more research can be done.
What are the proposed changes?
The University is replacing the RLT system with Residential Community Assistants (RCAs). You can see their explanation of the plan here. They would be available between 17:00 and 23:00 daily, with up to 6 staff covering the rest of the day for the whole campus.
Currently, RLT members work on a voluntary basis and are provided free on campus accommodation, but must pay a £600 annual utility bill. RCAs will pay rent and work on ‘12-15-hour part-time contracts’, which will roughly cover the cost of accommodation.
Staff would be prevented from being RCAs. They would have to leave their posts by the end of this academic year, and their homes by January. The motion describes this as ‘unreasonable’.
What does the motion suggest?
The motion raises concern that those who receive benefits, all PhD-teaching students, medical students, and those who work between 5pm and 11pm would not be able to do the job.
Third Year Undergraduates and Postgraduates will be eligible for the role. The motion claims the legality of the contracts still is not clear.
The motion document highlights that the SU received one meeting about the RLT changes, and RLT members themselves were sent a short online survey to fill out.
Where this kind of system has been implemented at other Universities, the motion reports that multiple times older-year students have used their position to ‘take sexual advantage of first year students.’
Why do the proponents of the motion value the RLT?
It argues that the RLT is a crucial part of wellbeing on campus. They help deal with critical incidents like “bullying, harassment, spiking, mental health issues, … and assaults”.
Furthermore, it says that it is a 24/7 service, offering immediate support. Plus, RLT accommodation offers the chance for ‘low-income and disadvantaged students and staff’, to continue studying easier.
The Boar has asked the SU for further comment on the above motions and their premises. The views of the SU and University do not represent the views of The Boar. The University’s comments above are not a direct response to the SU motions.
For more information about either of the motions, you can read them both in full at the Warwick Student Union website available here.