Student Services News

News from the Student Services Centre (Carrington Building)

Message from the Acting Vice-Chancellor: harassment and bullying

On 12 November, we launched a joint #NeverOK campaign with RUSU against harassment and bullying. We are committed to providing a safe environment for all our students and staff, and we do not tolerate any form of bullying, harassment or discrimination.

You may have seen in the media issues about behaviour towards one of our academics on the basis of publicly stated views on a current public policy issue. Freedom of speech, debate and academic freedom lie at the very heart of university life. A critical part of the university experience is learning how to form and defend an argument. We all have issues we feel passionately about and we may express those feelings in strong terms. But however important the issue and whatever the strength of our convictions, bullying and harassment have absolutely no place in our community. That is completely non-negotiable, whatever the issue or the circumstance, and we will take appropriate disciplinary action against anyone who engages in this sort of unacceptable behaviour.

I consider the respect and support that we demonstrate towards each other here at Reading to be an immense strength of our community, so I know you will join me in supporting the #NeverOK campaign. You can find out more about the campaign and the support we provide to students on the Essentials webpages.

Kind regards.

Robert

Robert Van de Noort

Acting Vice-Chancellor

Christmas Closures 2018

Christmas Closures

Please note that due to staff annual leave, our student services will be closed over the holiday period, between 21 December and 2 January.

The Library

The Library will be closed from Monday 24 December until Wednesday 2 January, and will be self-service only on some days. For more information about Library closures and borrowing during the holiday period, take a look at the Library blog.

Student Services

Support Centres will close on 21 December and reopen on 2 January.

The Disability Advisory Service and Careers and Employability will close at 2pm on Friday 21 December and reopen on 2 January.

The Student Welfare Team and Student Services reception will also be unavailable from 21 January and will reopen on 2 January.

Counselling and Wellbeing Services

Counselling and Wellbeing services will be open to take new registrations on half days only between 17-20 December (exact hours TBC). Please note that this does not affect appointments that have already been made.

The service will be closed all day from 21 December 2018 – 2 January 2019.

Please check back for further information.

Have you downloaded the Callmy Alert app yet?

What is Callmy Alert?

Free to download in Apple, Android and Windows app stores, the Callmy Alert app allows us to inform our students and staff of any significant safety threats on campus. This might be a major fire, a gas leak, or a terrorism related incident.

In the event of a major safety threat, you will receive a message in real time, informing you where the incident is and which areas to avoid. The system updates continuously and covers all of the University estate. Firearms or weapons attacks on UK campuses are rare, but the app will help you to stay safe should an incident occur. This compliments the recommended Police advice of Run, Hide, Tell.

How can I download it?

You can download the app for free from the app store relevant to your device. Once you’ve downloaded the app, there will be a simple verification process and you will need to add the group name UoRalert. The app will not access your contacts, share your data or offer in-app purchases. You will receive occasional test messages to make sure that everything is working properly.

If you have any questions about the Callmy Alert app, please contact the Security team at securitycontrol@reading.ac.uk or on 0118 378 7799.

Finding student accommodation: Some helpful hints

House-hunting is never an easy task, and if you’re new to the process it can feel especially daunting. There are lots of things consider when looking for a place to live, and it’s really important not to feel rushed into a decision.

We asked our Student Communications Ambassadors for their advice when it comes to looking for your next place.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

First and foremost, it’s important to know that you can ask for help if you need it. Finding accommodation can be complicated, and it’s best to ask someone if you need help understanding the process, or your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. The RUSU Advice Service is a fantastic resource, ready to help you with all sorts of issues relating to housing – whether it be understanding the terms of your contract or dealing with problem neighbours.

“When going in, know your rights as a student tenant, and how to solve issues. I’ve experienced landlords attempting to take advantage or ignore the lack of tenant rights of large student households. If your landlord isn’t responding to your requests, or is being difficult, speak to the council – a member of Reading Borough Council comes in to RUSU twice a month purely so students can seek advice on finding solutions face to face! This cuts unnecessary stress, and also pressures your landlord in a way that you, as a student tenant, couldn’t on your own.”  – Elliot

If you are confused by anything or experience any problems before, during or after your house-hunting process, you can contact the RUSU Advice service at advice@rusu.co.uk or give them a call on 0118 378 4100. Alternatively, you can drop in during their opening hours.

Take your time, do your research and ask lots of questions!

Start thinking about accommodation sooner rather than later, and ask lots of questions before you make a decision. This includes asking yourself important questions – can you see yourself living in this place? Is the location practical for you?

Consider if you are taking a car – if yes, is there a driveway or will you have access to a permit? It sounds obvious, but how far actually are you from University and the nearest shop? Is there enough furniture in your house for everything you require, or will you need to purchase a table and chairs, for example?”  -Hannah

Sadly, not all estate agents are created equal, so it’s best to do some research – if you are looking at a property, look into the agency that takes care of it. Do they have a good track record when it comes to dealing with tenant concerns and maintaining their property? If you can, try to have a word with the people already living at the property – they will know best!

“Check out reviews online about Estate Agents and take lots of photos when you move in and send it to them- so they can’t charge you later!” -Abi

Finding your Housemates

It’s highly likely that if you’re renting private accommodation, you are going to be looking for housemates to share it with. You may already have a group of friends you’re planning to live with, but if you’re new to the area or your friends have other arrangements, you may need to get out there and look for others to join forces with.

“Looking for student accommodation can appear daunting at first glance. However, from my personal experience, joining the ‘Find a Housemate – Reading University Students’ Union‘ Facebook page makes finding a house both straightforward and enjoyable.” -Liam

To avoid unnecessary conflict down the road, it’s important to consider what your values and expectations are when it comes to your living space. Do you have very high standards when it comes to keeping things clean and tidy, or do you have a more relaxed attitude? Do you like a noisy house with lots of activity, or are you happier in a quieter environment? When choosing your housemates, it’s important to find out early on what their expectations are, and see if they align with your own.

“When going in with other people – make sure you’re clear if this house is going to be your HOME, or just a place to sleep during term-time. This dictates the amount of work, cleaning, and money each person is willing to put into the house – and having differing values may cause conflict. Remember that your whole house will only be as clean/well maintained as your least tidy housemate!” -Elliot

Keep smiling

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when searching for accommodation or dealing with housing issues, and there are times when you may come up against frustrating stumbling blocks – but it’s important to stay positive.

“If you’re stressed out by all this – think of it as valuable experience and practice for later! If you’re willing to learn from all these battles, by the time you’ve graduated and have your own place, you’ll be a pro at handling issues (which will save you time, money and stress)!”  -Elliot

We wish you the best of luck on your accommodation search!

Alcohol Awareness Week: PC Julie’s advice on staying safe

It’s Alcohol Awareness Week, and PC Julie is back to share some tips on drinking responsibly during the festive season.

Hi all,  it’s been a busy few weeks in the world of policing! And as we approach “silly season”, it’s not going to get any better.  I want to talk to you about the dreaded A word – ALCOHOL.  As a Mum and a Police Officer, I want you all to have a good time and celebrate Christmas with your families and friends, but please be aware of the consequences.  Every year I arrest people for all sorts of offences, which are alcohol related.  Many people are charged and attend court, which has such a detrimental effect on their lives.

I have attached a poster, 12 Nights of Christmas.  Sing it to yourselves, I’m sure you all know the tune!  It is a bit of fun, but I want to reinforce the dangers and potential seriousness of drunkenness.

Please stay safe:

On a night out, stay with your mates and get home safely.

Plan your journey – know how you are getting home at the start of the evening.

Keep your valuables safe – take as little as possible and keep them close to you at all times.

Know your limits – Stop before it’s too late.

Don’t make tonight the night you regret.

Don’t let happy hour turn into a nightmare.

Step back and call for help if you see a crime taking place.

 

Staying Safe in Winter… Some Helpful Hints

Winter is well on its way, and the mornings and evenings are getting darker – this means a few added dangers when travelling. Here are a few simple tips that will help you stay safe this winter.

Safety for Cyclists

Darker mornings and evenings mean decreased visibility, and so for your own safety and that of those around you it is vital that you are easy to spot in the dark!

By law you must ensure that you have front and back lights on your bicycle when cycling in the dark. This ensures not only that other vehicles can see you more clearly, but also pedestrians when you are using shared paths. You can buy a set of lights for your bike in Whiteknights House or from Security Services online for just £7.

Wearing a Hi Vis vest is also a great way to make sure that you are visible to other road users when cycling in the dark. These can also be purchased online for £2 from Security Services, and are available for collection in Whiteknights House.

Remember that when you are dealing with decreased visibility or difficult weather conditions, it can help to slow down and take a little bit more time than usual to make sure you are fully aware of what is going on around you.

Personal Safety

If you find yourself having to walk in the dark, try your best to stick to well-lit areas and avoid isolated spots. If possible, arrange to travel with a friend, or let your friends know where you are going and what time you expect to be back home.

Remember that having headphones in will restrict your senses and make it more difficult to notice traffic and other people around you.

Chaperone Services

The University occupies a very large space, and there may be times where you feel vulnerable working or studying at night. There are two kinds of chaperone service available for you to book if you will be walking alone on campus at night and would like some extra reassurance.

Hawk Eye Chaperone: When booked, Security will be able to watch over your journey on campus with CCTV. You can contact them at the beginning and end of your journey to confirm that you have reached your destination safely. To find out more about the service and to book, click here.

Personal Chaperone: When booking a chaperone, security will decide with you whether it would be best to use the Hawk Eye Chaperone service, or have a personal chaperone. When you have booked a personal chaperone, security will give an approximate time to meet and will walk you to your destination or accompany you by vehicle, depending on your destination. Click here to find out more and book.

If you wish to use the service or need further advice please call security on 0118 378 7799

Introducing…#NeverOK

A message from your RUSU Officers for Welfare (Dan Bentley) and Diversity (Nozomi Tolworthy) and Deans for Diversity & Inclusion (Simon Chandler-Wilde and Ellie Highwood).

The University and Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU) are committed to ensuring an inclusive, supportive and respectful environment for all. As set out in our Student Charter, we believe any form of bullying, harassment or discrimination is never ok.

This week, to coincide with national Anti-Bullying Awareness Week, we’re launching a new joint campaign: #NeverOk

Our aim is to highlight our commitment to inclusivity and raise awareness of the types of behaviours that we do not tolerate. Research by Universities UK found that unfortunately incidents such as harassment and hate crime do occur at universities, but students and staff are not always aware of what constitutes such an incident or how to access support.

You can get involved by visiting RUSU this week and picking up a #NeverOK card to keep in your wallet and chatting to your RUSU Officers about your thoughts or experiences of these issues.

We are also running a substantial trial of 20 interactive workshops by the Good Lad Initiative, with RUSU sports societies, JCR representatives, and first year students in one of our Schools. These sessions are aimed at promoting positive behaviour in complex group situations, within the campus and socially, and helping people to be active bystanders.

We’ve updated our policy, procedures, and reporting routes for students, as well as providing additional support from our new University team of Welfare Officers. Find out more at: www.reading.ac.uk/neverok

We hope this will be the start of a conversation with you and there will be further activities throughout the year for you to get involved.

As the campaign evolves we would very much welcome feedback. Please contact Simon Chandler-Wilde, Dean for Diversity & Inclusion, or Nozomi Tolworthy, RUSU Diversity Officer, with any comments, queries or suggestions.

Thank you for your support,

Dan, Nozomi, Simon and Ellie

Library Refurbishment: Lift Stairs Demolition

Our Library building refurbishment has now progressed to preparing to demolish the stairs behind the lifts, with actual demolition planned for January 2019. We will be installing acoustic partitions to reduce the volume of noise generated by these works, but you may still experience noise when using the building. We’ve provided some  advice here on how you can still get to upper Library floors; find books moved during this work; and find alternative, quieter study space.

How do I get to upper floors?

Although the stairs behind the lifts will be out of use, you will still be able to use at least two of these existing lifts  until the new lifts are ready. The big central staircase leading up from the main hall will remain open with other stairs around the edges of the building available for emergency evacuation.

Where are my books?

During hoarding construction, books previously shelved right next to the lift area have been moved elsewhere on the same floor. Please ask staff at the floor Information Desks if you need help finding them.

  • On the 2nd Floor 337-338.52has moved to the far (eastern/Eat at the Square) end of the room by the windows.
  • On the 3rd Floor 728-733.5154has moved to new shelves by the Information Desk.

Where can I find quieter study space?

This phase of construction will sometimes involve noisy or disruptive works. Please make use of the quiet and silent study space in the Library@URS building next door, as well as the variety of alternative study space options across campus. For more see ‘The latest on student study space’.

More on the Library refurbishment

Demolishing this staircase will create space to install a dedicated Library staff book lift beside the site of a new automated returned-book sorter. Find out more about the project on our Library refurbishment webpage.

Please continue to visit the Me@Reading student portal for the latest updates on this project.

Top Tips on Being a Good Neighbour

Being on bad terms with your neighbours can make life a lot more difficult – but there are some simple things you can do to establish and maintain good relationships with them through the course of your tenancy. Here are a few tips on being the best neighbour you can possibly be:

Introduce yourself

The first step to having a great relationship with your neighbours is finding out who they are! That way it’s easier to approach one another if any issues arise. It might feel daunting to approach a neighbour directly – if the thought fills you with dread, perhaps consider posting a card through their door, briefly introducing yourself and letting them know that they can contact you in the event that they need to address any issues.

Respect your neighbours

Try to take into account your neighbours’ schedules, which may look quite different from your own. If you find yourself coming home late, try to keep noise to minimum and make sure they know that they can approach you if any problems occur. Keep your street looking like the kind of place you’d want to live – avoid littering and ensure that the exterior of your house is kept neat and tidy.

Figure out the bin situation!

Find out when your rubbish collection days are, and try not to miss them. Keeping your rubbish well contained and collected on time will avoid all sorts of nasty smells and unwelcome creatures from appearing outside your house, and your neighbours will appreciate it.

Keep your neighbours in the loop

Throwing the occasional party is fine, but try to give your neighbours a little bit of notice in advance, and make sure they know how to contact you if they need to ask you to control noise levels. Try to give them an idea of when the party will wrap up, and remind your guests to be considerate of your neighbours when they’re leaving.

If you are experiencing any problems with neighbours and would like some advice, please contact RUSU’s Housing Advice Service on 0118 378 4100 or email at advice@rusu.co.uk.

Green Festival 2018

Between the 14-16 November, the University and RUSU will be working together to host a series of events to raise awareness of green issues and what more we can all be doing to reduce our collective impact on the environment.

The festival will include tours of the University Energy Centre, a Green Careers event and Dr Bike drop-in sessions, where you can get your bike repaired for just the cost of the parts required.

Book tickets for Friday 16 November to attend a talk with Freedom Four on Low Carbon Brewing Processes, and get the chance to win two places to visit the brewery in Stafford!

You can also head over to The Dairy on London Road Campus for a talk and taste-test of a low carbon beer. Book tickets here.

Take a look at the full programme of events below:

For more information about the festival and the events that will be taking place, please visit reading.ac.uk/sustainability.

If you’re interested in getting involved with Sustainability at Reading, please email sustainability@reading.ac.uk

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