President Gemma’s Final Blog

29th June 2020

President Gemma’s Final Blog

The time has come for us to say goodbye to our President 2019/20, Gemma Lovegrove. Gemma has been a part of the Students' Union officer team for 2 years and has worked tirelessly to support students, create change and lead your union. 

Gemma said, "Two years, and what an emotional rollercoaster it has been.  I have been blessed to have met some truly amazing and inspiring people along the way too. It seems bizarre ending your term mid-pandemic, when there is still so much uncertainty, but I am confident that I am leaving you with a Union full of hope for a new future. 

There are lots of things to look forward to, new strategy, new leadership and a new Sabbatical team, and I genuinely hope that these drive change and development in the Union.  It is never easy to say goodbye to something that you are so passionate about and having represented at every level of too. I have seen lots of amazing Officers and staff come and go in that time, but now it is time to get excited for the future. We have a great team of full-time staff who are keen to embed the Union into the community at Waterside, something that is needed.

All of us have been hit hard in our last year at the University, what with COVID-19 writing off our first home Varsity, our awards evenings and our chances of a good send off.  That doesn’t however, stop me being incredibly proud of our members.  From our Sports and Societies, to our passionate volunteers that give everything to ensure these groups run successfully, our Advocates and Student Councillors, your effort into ensuring the Union and University runs smoothly is admirable, and I appreciate your commitment and support.  To our Officers and Student Trustees too, you would not believe what these guys have had to navigate through this year!  Not only am I lucky to have had you alongside me, I will treasure some of you as friends beyond this.

So what developments have I seen since being an Officer?

Parking for students, water fountains, microwaves, all little things that make life a little bit easier.  In the midst of BLM, I am happy to say at last, that our Black students have been listened to and anonymous marking will be utilised at Northampton! It has taken three years of campaigning to get to this point, but if it is important to the students, then it is important to the Union. Students asked for this to happen back in 2017 when we did our closing the gap survey, but it proved tricky to get academics to agree it was for the best.

Semesterisation will also soon be in place, bringing the University up to date with the academic calendar and with good justification too.  Hopefully this will allow students more opportunity to resit in times of difficulty, but also afford them the time to concentrate on fewer assignments in one go. 

If there is one thing I would like to see improve at the University, it would be diversity. It is a work in progress, but there still needs to be a discussion about disproportionality and culture in particular, a discussion needed today, more than ever.  Questions need to be asked around why our young Black Male students act defensively when aggressively approached by authoritarian figures, discussions need to be had around why our students don’t feel safe in a county where they are more likely to be stop searched, and why there is no entertainment suitable for them.  Those discussions need to come from the Students, demand more from your Union and your University, it is your education and your student experience, make it matter, use the platforms to communicate your needs, and who knows who may be listening?

Farewell, and remember, it is your Union.  Love it? Give some time to help it run. Want to change it? Give some time to make that happen. Make your opinion count."

We would like to thank Gemma for her dedication to the Union and also wish her the best of luck for the future.