Establishing a space for University of Sussex GRT community in Welcome Week and beyond
Every year at the University of Sussex the Student Experience Division facilitates Welcome Week, this is the week that our students starting at Sussex transition to university life and get settled into being a Sussex student. For the first time this year, our Student Engagement Programme - Belong at Sussex - established a space for students and staff from GRT backgrounds – GRT at Sussex, Tea and Chat. It was an opportunity for people to come together and chat over tea and coffee, and for some of our key partnerships to discuss the GRT in higher education space. We hope to continue this for future Welcome Weeks with the objective of bringing together members of the GRT community at Sussex as well as raising awareness of representation at the institution.
As part of Belong of Sussex, we have a Virtual Learning (Canvas) module for students from a varied and diverse identities and backgrounds. Students can join discussion forums, access links for information and guidance on different aspects of university life and get notifications on events. These may be activities that are for them specifically, or for the whole student community. GRT at Sussex is one of these discussion forums. It has just started, and we hope to see student involvement over the coming months.
Belong at Sussex works in partnership with a group of Student Connectors, we are exploring how we can raise more awareness for our GRT students amongst the whole cohort, and what targeted activities would be most valuable. One such activity is a film series we are planning - we hope to show several films that have GRT topics at their core or are directed/produced by members of the GRT community. When plans are finalised, we will share details on our Belong at Sussex Canvas Module as well as the University of Sussex Student Hub. Additionally, there will be recruitment opportunities to join this Connector Project in November for the next term, beginning January 2023, and we hope to have applicants from GRT backgrounds.
One of the aims of Belong at Sussex is to provide dedicated space and resource both virtual and in person for students from GRT backgrounds, and while students from GRT backgrounds are some of our most underrepresented on campus and across the UK in higher education, this is a key priority.
The Belong at Sussex team hopes to ensure that all our students feel heard, understood and included. These activities are the first steps to fully establishing a presence for GRT students and solidify GRT as an identity represented at Sussex and one that has a sense of belonging.
Eileen Laffan, Student Engagement Officer, Student Engagement and Enhancement