The outgoing SU committee, headed by SU President Nikita Ma, has released a summary of their accomplishments in 2020, as well as their key initiatives until the end of their term. Some of the key priorities that the SU outlined include digital resources, ensuring no rent is charged to students not in Oxford, and the fair outcomes for students campaign.
Oxford SU have worked with the University to establish a new Mental Health Task Force, headed by Sir Tim Hitchens, President of Wolfson College. Some of the priorities for the task force include support for those affected by pandemic, including those self-isolating and those that have faced disciplinary measures in light of Covid-19 rule breaches. The Mental Health Task Force will be providing an update on their work later this term.
Alongside the open letters penned by other groups, the SU were involved in writing their own open letter calling on Oxford to tackle systemic racism within the University, and commit to initiatives such as making equality and diversity training for staff mandatory. This open letter was written by the previous 2019-20 SU committee. The SU are currently working with the University as representatives on their race equality taskforce.
Some of the SU’s largest achievements were in mandating the University to tackle the climate crisis. The Oxford Climate Justice Campaign, supported by the SU, led to a commitment from the University to formally divest from fossil fuel investments. The SU have also been mandated to lobby for the University to stop selling lamb and beef, which they have committed to until March 2021.
The Oxford SU has also worked to support graduate students, expanding the University’s Covid-19 hardship fund. They plan to lobby for support for graduate students starting in 2021, particularly at the new Reuben College. 70% of common room elections were conducted through the SU, and the SU held 20 RepComms online in Michaelmas 2020 online. These are conferences designed to promote communication and support for common room representatives. The SU also launched their online training platform, including workshops on issues such as disability training and training for socially distanced activities. 910 training sessions have been completed by students so far.
Oxford SU are currently in the process of analysing the results of their sexual health education survey, which received over 1000 responses. This year, they hope to develop and deliver online sexual health education resources from “world experts.” From the 13th October 2019 to the 30th September 2020, the SU processed 1350 student advice cases, 87% of which raised two or more issues and are therefore classed as “complex” cases. 42% of students that accessed the service contacted the SU for advice again, and in 2021 the SU hopes to continue supporting students with housing, academic, welfare, educational, and financial concerns.