DSU Executive Officer reflects on SHAG Week event

by Katie McKenna

A sexual health awareness week held by DSU was praised as a success by one of the event’s organisers.

SHAG week – where ‘SHAG’ stands for “Sexual Health Awareness Guidance” – was exactly what the name implied; a week dedicated to bringing awareness of sexual health to students through a series of light-hearted events that took place on-campus over the week. 

“When I first joined DSU’s staff, I was big on the fact that they seemed to have guidance for most things but not for sexual health, so that’s something I wanted to address with SHAG Week,” Opportunities & Engagement Executive Officer Aashni Sawjani said. 

“I didn’t want it to be too formal – since we wanted to open the discussion about sexual health, we wanted to engage everyone and act more casual about it. 

“We had a bunch of things going on, we were selling penis-shaped cookies, we had a nude art event, and I even dressed up as a penis for a day!” 

She concluded by saying that she believed the event was successful since it “felt like the right time” and that the events associated with the week generated a lot of discussion and interest amongst students, though she believed that there’s “always room for improvement”. 

DSU Executive Officer discusses plans to help with student welfare

by Katie McKenna

As the cost-of-living crisis continues, DSU’s Union Development Executive Officer Amir Iqbal sheds some light on some schemes devised to help the largely low-income student body of De Montfort University. 

One such scheme was the free breakfast scheme originally introduced at the start of the year, which has now extended all the way to the end of June.

Mr Iqbal wants to extend the scheme even further, for as long as necessary. 

Hub: the Students’ Union building at the centre of campus

“We’ve had a good uptick of people coming in for a free breakfast, so in that regard, we believe they’ve been a success,” he said. 

“I personally believe we’ve done a very good job so far – not a lot of unis have been able to provide free breakfasts to the entire student population. We want to be able to meet the needs of every student.” 

Another topic Mr Iqbal was keen to discuss was his ideals for the lowering of graduation costs. He believes that there’s “a lot of misconceptions” when it comes to guest tickets, and he desires to make them more accessible for all. 

He also believes that the graduation support fund the university offers is under-marketed, leaving a lot of students unaware of a scheme that could help them through an otherwise expensive graduation. 

“I believe the lack of marketing was intentional on the university’s part, it’s very likely another way for them to make more money.

“It should be about the students first and foremost; they shouldn’t have to worry about the costs of an expensive graduation whilst also worrying about the cost of their next meal.” 

Another one of Mr Iqbal’s personal projects focuses on bringing awareness to honour-based abuse, a form of abuse used to justify controlling and violent behaviour on the grounds of bringing “honour” to a family or community. 

“We’ve been teaching DSU staff about honour-based abuse, we’ve had stalls set up, posters about it spread all over, it’s a year-long project we hope to continue into the next year.” 

Students with any concerns or worries should contact the DSU’s welfare team via the reception at the campus centre building. 

DSU helps students in Leicester celebrate world mental health day

By Courtney Stevens

Monday 10th October was world mental health day and DSU planned a Walk to Talk event for students to talk about mental health and wellbeing.

The event involved a walk around Leicester with games and free pizza also involved to allow students to get outside in nature and meet new people.

Aliya Khan and Sarah Underhill getting ready for the event.

Speaking about the event, Sarah Underhill, the DSU advice and well-being coordinator said: “With it being the start of the academic year we wanted to do something that would introduce students to Leicester and provide a platform for people to get to know others.

“We want to support students who may be having a mental health difficulty or concern and signpost who those students can talk to whilst at university.”

After the impact of covid, the DSU is looking forward to holding more events to allow people to come together in person.

Aliya Khan, the DSU welfare executive added: “It’s important for students to have these social events to meet up with new people because over the last three years students haven’t had that aspect of university life, so it’s important to get back in.”

Speaking about what made them take on the role, Sarah said: “Once I graduated, I knew I wanted to do something within the education sector and this role comprised of everything I was interested in.

“We can provide academic advice for students whilst also doing outreach in regards to the psychology side of things, so it just seemed like the perfect role.”

Aliya added: “I really liked the idea of helping students and providing that support whilst they’re at university because I feel like it’s important to have that.

“We are kind of the bridge between the university and the students, making sure that information between the university and students is communicated back.”

Walk to Talk is one of many events the DSU has planned for this year, and it has teased about upcoming ideas in the pipeline for students to get involved with that they are in the process of finalising.

Departments faculty team first to take trophy home in DMU competition

By Muhsin Cabdi

Six faculties faced off in a series of contests in the first week of De Montfort University’s Faculty Championship.

The contest, which is taking place over the course of the year, involves a series of events where the teams go head-to-head for the trophy, with the team that held it for the longest time being crowned Faculty Champions.

The teams are open to all students, with the departments team consisting of staff and DMU sports society members.

The first event was held last week, with the Departments faculty becoming the first team to take the trophy home.

Mollie Footitt, the Students’ Union’s deputy president of education took part in the event last week as a member of the departments team.

She said: “There were eight or nine different events that night. There was a quiz, a hungry hippos game and an eating contest.”

Last week’s events also featured a dodgeball contest between the faculties.

Derrick Mensah, the DMU student union’s vice president of activities also said: “Next week there is going to be a talent show.”

Mollie also said: “We won the last round. I think DMU Sport has the trophy, I think it’s in their office.”

Derrick said that he was still waiting on the final score.

Departments won against the faculties of health and life sciences, business and law, technology, arts and humanities and educational partners to be the first team to claim the trophy.

In the coming weeks, the other teams will have the chance to win the trophy back from them in other weekly contests.

DSU role for NCTJ qualified journalist

By Natalie Whitehouse

Journalism graduate Jonathan Whitney has found himself back on the De Montfort campus, returning to the university in a role at De Montfort Students’ Union as Media and Communications Coordinator.

The NCTJ-accredited journalist stumbled across the vacancy by chance, and knew instantly that it was a job he could see himself succeed in:

“I knew it was exactly what I was looking for so I applied straight away. I got an interview and heard back the next day that I’d been successful! My first day was during Freshers – the busiest time of the year for us – so that was a bit of a baptism of fire, but I haven’t looked back since.”

Being thrown in at the deep end, Jonny began his role four months ago at the beginning of the academic year, and pays testament to his course and experience gained at De Montfort for assisting him in successfully securing the role at DSU:

“All of the skills I’d learnt on my course were big factors in me landing the job, but my previous experience was crucial. In my final year of study I was a Frontrunner in the press office at DMU, and the skills I learnt there in sourcing and writing news stories more tailored to a commercial setting was really important, and it was most helpful to me in learning how to write for different audiences.

“I was also a Media Intern at Leicester Tigers during that time, and spent the season honing my skills across a wide range of areas including press releases, social media and a little bit of video content.”

This vast amount of experience put the journalism graduate in extremely good stead for the position at DSU, which have allowed him to flourish in his role, as well as learn new skills on the job:

“I work in a small team, so I can find myself turning my hand to anything during a normal working week. I coordinate all of the news content that goes up on the DSU website, most of which I write myself. I’m also in charge of all of the main social media channels we have, so scheduling messages for, and monitoring, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others can take up a large part of my day.

“I’m also getting more and more into video content, which is one area that I didn’t cover so much on my course, but it still uses all of the traditional story telling techniques I learnt during my time studying at DMU.”

Jonny Whitney

Having previously wanted to get into sports journalism, the 21-year-old realised early in his time at university that his career path may change, as he began to lean more towards a career in communications:

“I wanted to be a sports journalist for a long time, but quite early on during my course my eyes were opened to the opportunities in PR and Communications and my goals have changed to suit. At some point in my career I’d love to work for a communications team in a sporting environment, but right now I’m really happy at DSU!”

Jonny seems to have found his ideal career – or along the lines of it. He fully enjoys his role, the projects he has been involved in thus far, and also the interesting people he gets to meet along the way:

“The most interesting bit I find is when you get some weird and slightly quirky stories coming out of the woodwork. I was writing one about a student, Maddison, who is BUCS champion in her category of Karate as our sports department gives her funding towards her training. Only as I was interviewing her did it come out that she was not only BUCS champion, but a double European and triple world champion! That was fascinating and made for a brilliant story.”

And as is the consistently fast-paced nature of the communications world, there’s always something to keep him busy, and most importantly happy:

“Right now is a really busy time because we’re in the middle of planning comms. around elections, Varsity, RAG week and a whole lot more. But I’m really enjoying it!

“I get a real buzz out of actually seeing the effect my work has – whether that be more engagement with a certain campaign, or more student sign-ups to one of our services.”