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Each year, in July, the new Sabbatical Officers start their year in office. The team you elected in March to represent you this year are just getting settled into their new roles. We asked them what they plan to do this year, what life in lockdown has been like and to share some advice for students arriving in September.

I spent the last 3 years of my degree involved in a range of activities at UCL, from cultural societies to captaining a football team. Activities played such an important role in my uni experience and I want to make sure they’re the best they can possibly be.

Coronavirus has shaken up the world, but I want to make sure that our clubs and societies have the best resources to make the most of the situation and engage their communities as well as possible, whether that be online or in person.

Best part of life at UCL

Captaining a Red Star Football team was one of the best experiences of my UCL experience. I met loads of great people, played the sport I loved the most and led my team to promotion.

Life in lockdown

As lovely as it is to spend loads of time with family at the comfort of your own home, I’ve really missed the simple things in life, like going out with friends or playing football.

Advice for new students

Make sure to get involved in as much as possible, it might seem daunting at first but once you’ve joined in you realise everyone else is in the same situation as you and everyone wants to make new friends.

I spent a lot of my first term anxious, second guessing myself and finding my feet. I hope this second term allows me to not just fight fires and be responsive, but re-shift my focus back to students and be even more active and accountable.

My many plans this year include: outreach and access to young students of colour and local communities of colour, fighting for an accessible and decolonised education. fighting for culturally-competent welfare and pastoral care, holding UCL and departments accountable for tackling racism and discrimination, building peer-support networks and healing spaces.

Best part of life at UCL

Deciding to switch degrees. I switched at the end of the 2nd year because at every moment I was scared it was too late or that it would negatively impact my career options. Taking my education into my own hands and starting to enjoy learning changed everything for me.

Life in lockdown

Intense! It’s been a struggle to get into working and studying from home but I’m blessed to have some space to work and a supportive partner who is keeping me sane.

Advice for new students

Community! A supportive community can help you navigate your journey.

Complain! You have a right to an accessible quality education. Your voice is crucial to achieving that.

Rights & services! Knowing your rights (education, work. etc.) and the support services are key! Start with SSW, Disability Services, the BME Network and our Advice Service.

I stood for re-election because I knew I could do more to improve the UCL experience if I had another year to do so. I learnt so much in my first year as a Sabb and I wanted to put that knowledge to the best use.

I have two main aims for next year: to make sure that students get the best UCL experience wherever they are studying and to ensure that the Students’ Union takes sustainability seriously. There is so much uncertainty about the coming year, so my focus will be on communication and partnership.

Best part of life at UCL

This is going to be really cheesy, but it’s 100% true! The best part of my UCL experience so far has to be the people I’ve met here! I’ve met some amazing people in my 7 years at UCL and my experience wouldn’t have been the same without them.

Life in lockdown

Initially, it was a bit of a struggle, Teams meetings somehow require more attention than in-person ones! But the lack of a commute has meant that I get to spend more time in bed, so it’s been a mixed experience.

Advice for new students

It’s normal to be nervous about starting your degree, even more so with what’s happening. Just know that there are people in your corner, people whose job it is to make sure that you have all of the tools and opportunities you need to thrive here at UCL.

UCL is one of the top universities in the world. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always feel like this. For that reason, I decided to run in the Leadership Race. I want to enact real change to the academic experience so that UCL really feels like the 10th best university in the world.

The current Coronavirus crisis has completely changed the way we go about our lives - education is by no means immune to these changes. In the space of a few weeks, all learning has been digitised. We’ve seen a complete overhaul of the extenuating circumstances system. I want to make sure we don’t go back on any of this progress. Rather I want to make sure we continue to make progress in this direction.

Best part of life at UCL

Hot summer afternoons sat on the Portico steps with a cold drink and some friends. Unbeatable experience - especially in the middle of exam season when you’re supposed to be studying.

Life in lockdown

As with everyone, it’s not ideal but I’m doing my best! Meetings from the comfort of my bed is always nice though.

Advice for new students

Do everything you can - your time at uni will go so quickly! You’re at a world-class uni in the middle of a global city, so make the most of it whilst you’re here.

The officer role has been the most fulfilling role I have ever had, and I’ve had a lot of jobs in the past. It is a chance to contribute to a community that has taught me a lot, and was the foundation for my integration into London and doing it a second time round was an unmissable opportunity.

The year comes with its own COVID-related challenges and ensuring the student perspective is the main driver of institutional decision making is possibly my most fundamental goal.

Best part of life at UCL

The people - especially those met through all the societies I’ve been a part of: Film, Barbell, American Football, Live Music, Musical Theatre, Graduate Law Soc… made friends for life!

Life in lockdown

It’s a great opportunity for creativity…

Advice for new students

Your academic work is not the only reason you’re here (and although this is likely to vary person to person - it may not even be the main reason). Explore clubs, societies, random small side interests, major big hobbies, dreams, and passions - UCL is a great place to do so.

I had experienced some things during my time at UCL which I didn’t think were fair or just, so naturally I thought the best way to tackle those issues was to stand for election and hopefully be given the opportunity to make changes which positively impact our students.

My main priority is to ensure that students feel safe and welcome in the Union by fighting for inclusivity and representation of all groups and identities and by building a solid support system for student concerns across campus.

Best part of life at UCL

It has definitely been getting involved in Clubs and Societies. I have made some life-long friends and gained so much experience and insight which has only helped my personal development. I would be a totally different person without them.

Life in lockdown

It has been hard – the temptation to stay in bed and binge watch series is quite hard to resist. It’s something we have to adjust to now and figure out how to maximise our productivity and work efficiently and effectively from home, however difficult that may be.

Advice for new students

Just take it easy! Whatever it is, there’s no need to rush or force it. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable, know your limits, don’t push too hard and enjoy your time at university because it does go by in a flash and you’ll be gone before you know it.

I felt helpless hearing stories about awful experiences as women and non-binary people at UCL so when I saw that the Students’ Union elections were coming up, I did a bit of research. I saw how much change Sabbs have brought in over the last few years and hoped to contribute to that.

I mainly want better communication of Union resources (did you know they have an Advice Service that can provide pastoral support for assault survivors and advice on housing, money and academic issues? I didn’t!) and clarify processes after reporting bullying and harassment incidents. I also want to work with the BME and LGBT officers to increase intersectional support across UCL.

Best part of life at UCL

2nd year trip to Mallorca! There was sunshine, boats, and data collection! For the amount of work we did, it was really a lot of fun – the hotel on the beach definitely helped. It was a great way to get to know everyone on my course a lot better!

Life in lockdown

It’s been really varied week by week. I went through the whole bread making thing for a while, then family stuff, exams, speed mask-making, and now this journey I’m starting as Women’s Officer. I am closer to my friends, and further from an ice cream van than I thought would be in late June.

Advice for new students

Talk to everyone, they’re just as scared and excited as you are. Try a bunch of different societies, make multiple groups of friends that you know from different places, and ALWAYS back up your essays. You’ll have a lot of fun!