Since last Monday I have spent a considerable amount of time in the Students Union. As part of a temporary job from Unitemps, I have been giving out the university Travel Survey to as many students as possible, and we have been based in the SU. Anyhow, as you might expect, the SU you see on open days and in the prospectuses, is a lot different to the reality – but not necessarily in a bad way! If your wondering what it is actually like when you go to Leicester, here is my perspective and a bit about everything I have experienced with our Student’s Union. Our SU does a lot throughout the year, but here are a few key things you may be curious to know!
I seem to remember on my open day sometime in 2012, before applying to Leicester, someone saying something about how the Uni sells food an other items at student prices. The Union shops, Rymans and Nourish, whilst stocked well with everything you might need during a day at Uni, are slightly more pricey than I would have expected for a ‘student price’. Add on about 10-30p more what you would expect at the local Morrissons. Rymans however do accept the NUS student card for a discount on stationary!
2. Food and restaurants
The Union Diner is the main restaurant in the SU, and having eaten there before I can say that the food is tasty but pretty basic and somewhat expensive once again. However, in the case you feel extra hungry that day and want somewhere with reserved seating to sit and eat with your friends, this is the place to go. They also did an awesome food challenge for Varsity – to eat as much as you can of a huge plate of breakfast in competition with a friend. If you finish it all, you get it for free! There is also a Starbucks and food in the Common Room with a great £2 meal deal. I usually get a slice of pizza, and apple and fruit juice which I think is pretty good and tastes amazing 🙂
I also remember someone saying on my open day that the Union is a great place to go to meet people and socialise. In the day time, the Union is packed with students sitting on the numerous chairs and sofas in the Square. I have found during my Travel Surveying that most of these people are the same people every day, since many people tell me they have already done the Survey! The atmosphere is busy and friendly, but there also a number of people that go there to do work. Not sure why since it can get quite noisy!
Societies-wise there are literally hundreds you can join, and there is sure to be one perfect for your hobbies and interests. If not, the SU encourages you to start your own society, as I did! (see my previous post). The SU offers a lot of help and guidance on how to run your society, as well as offering funding to help you put on important events.
On Wednesday and Friday night of course there is LetsDisko and Shabang in the O2 Academy! This is the place everyone goes to, especially during Freshers and special events nights. Speaking from experience, it is definitely a great place to meet people and have fun with your friends. There is quite a range of music on – with Wednesday night cheesy 00s music and Friday night pop with an RnB room upstairs. As the night goes on they always throw in a few classics that gets everyone dancing!
4. Promotion, fundraising or campaigning stalls
One great thing the SU does, in my opinion, is offer up stalls for you to book. There are about 6 of these dotted around the SU, where you can set up a stall to raise money, campaign for something, advertise your society, sell society event tickets – or whatever else you need it for! Personally I’ve used these for the Travel survey, our carbon-footprinting stall (see my earlier post), my Go Green Week stall and selling tickets for the Ocean Fun Run that we put on in collaboration with other societies.
Also, from these stalls, I have got some really great deals and struck up conversations with interesting people! For example, on one fundraising stall, I bought a brand new topshop nail varnish for £1 (a pretty good deal), and recently I brought these adorable bunny easter egg holders with a donation to Childreach International!
5. Student Representatives
As far as I know, there are 3 ways to become a student representative for the Union, and democratically make the important decisions for the Union: a course rep, a member of the Union Council, or a Student Union Officer. For all of these you need to be elected, and the SU website has lots more information on these roles! Having met the Executive Student Officer’s this year, I can say they are a very friendly, passionate bunch that are keen to engage as many students as possible in all activities and campaigns they put on. The Environmental Action Society, of which I am President, have begun working with these officers on an NUS campaign to reduce paper usage across campus, but I will talk about that in a later blog post!
As an environmental type-person, I have gained quite a detailed view of the SU in this aspect, but I don’t know how many people are aware of this. Hungry for Change is a SU Food Project that started in 2013, around the time I began University. It aims to raise awareness of the importance of producing and consuming locally produced food, for our own health and for the environment, and is run by student volunteers that meet 2 – 3 times a week. They have a garden plot in Brookfield, which has come a long way since the abandoned yard I helped fix up in early 2014, to the fully- functioning, still-expanding vegetable/fruit/herbs garden it is today. There is also a balcony of the SU building that is also growing food. I love this project because it is a fantastic way to meets new friends, make a real change locally, and gain CV voluntary experience and skills. Plus volunteers get to eat the food they produce for no charge!
As well as this, the SU hosts our Go Green Week, which I have blogged about previously. This is a week long effort to raise awareness of environmental issues and encourage students to make simple changes to their habits, that can make a huge difference to their carbon footprint. The SU also put on the Enactus farmers market every couple of months, with local sellers from Leicester selling all sorts of food products, from burgers to veg to cakes! Lastly, on Monday, the SU put on a swap-shop, whereby students can bring in old clothes items and swap them for something new. This is a brilliant green way to get a new outfit since its reusing and recycling rather than sending clothes to landfill!
I hope this post has been informative! There is a lot more the SU does that I have not mentioned, but may blog about in future. As always feel free to ask any questions in the comments below 🙂