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Meet your NUSU Officers

By Newcastle University

Our Students' Union (NUSU) is run by students, for students, but who are our Officers and Chairs and what is their role in our student community?

Each year, our Students' Union (NUSU) hosts student elections, granting anyone in our community the opportunity to stand for a position, run a campaign and get elected by student vote. There are a total of 17 Officer and Chair roles available, including seven full-time paid Sabbatical roles. Regardless of your course and stage, any student enrolled at Newcastle University can get involved and those elected will go on to represent our student body in the following academic year.

This year's officers have already achieved so much for our student community. From driving change during the Covid-19 pandemic to running powerful campaigns like SOS: Supporting Our Students, Black History Matters and Pride Inside, let's take a look at this year's representatives to learn a little more about them and their roles.

President of NUSU

Dorothy Chirwa

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First up, we have the NUSU President position, currently held by history graduate Dorothy Chirwa. Dorothy's role  is to represent the student body, guarantee their voice is heard and ensure everyone enrolled at Newcastle University is aware of the support, resources and opportunities provided by our Students' Union.  

'Originally from Leeds, I moved here to do a history degree and now that I've graduated I just can't seem to leave the Toon. During my time at university, I've been president of the History Society and involved in campaigns in the Students' Union such as Black is Gold.'

Over the past year, Dorothy has made it her aim to increase transparency from the University in terms of discrimination and economic spending, expand wellbeing access, increase sustainability and decolonise the curriculum across all teaching departments. With the Covid-19 pandemic also in the mix, she has fought for students during the uncertainty of lockdown periods, testing and remote learning, and made it her primary focus to support the University in keeping campus open for our community.

Alongside ensuring our campus is safe, she has also worked on a plethora of equality, diversity and inclusion projects. From developing a welcome pack for BAME students, with fellow officer Nadia, and supporting causes like #EndSars and #BLM, to developing NUSU's Black History Month campaign in October.  

'I'm here to make sure that you know that I'm here to fight for the students and make your lives better.'

Although it's been a difficult year with many elements to juggle, if you have any concerns about the student experience at Newcastle University, Dorothy can still be reached via email at president.union@ncl.ac.uk. You can also learn more about her efforts via her Twitter feed here.


Education Officer

Sian Dickie

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Next, we have Sian Dickie who is NUSU's current Education Officer. Similar to the President, Sian aims to amplify the student voice, yet her role is more specific to educational and academic interests. As a media, communications and sociology graduate from a widening participation background, Sian has a passion to achieve a good quality of education for students at all stages and from all circumstances.  

'At Newcastle, I took my undergrad in Media & Cultural studies and a Masters in Sociology. Through these experiences, I feel I can understand students who are at various life stages. The main commonality is that students at all stages desire a good quality educational experience.'

Due to Covid-19, Sian had to amend her manifesto to focus on reducing the impact of the pandemic on the quality of education here at Newcastle University. Her aims include ensuring students have the support they need, during such unprecedented times, from personal tutors and PEC (Personal Extenuating Circumstances) forms. She has also campaigned for student concerns surrounding fees and safety nets and launched her first campaign, 'S.OS: Supporting our Students' to raise awareness and create solutions to key academic issues.

Beyond the pandemic, Sian hopes to produce a Study Space Guide for campus, so students are aware of busy spaces and feel safe when they arrive. She also aims to protect students through uncertain periods and is looking to create an Education Protection Framework which will seek to continue the accessibility features that have benefited marginalised groups. 

'There should be no inequalities in educational access from the point of admission, to the success you achieve after graduation.'

Sian has been at Newcastle University since 2016 and has a vast amount of experience under her belt. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your education at Newcastle University, you can reach her via email at education.union@newcastle.ac.uk. You can also keep up to date with her campaigns and activities via Twitter here

Welfare & Equality Officer

Nadia Ahmed 

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This year's Welfare and Equality Officer position is held by Nadia Ahmed, an English Literature graduate. Overall, her role is to amplify the voices, perspectives, and ideas of minority students and enhance equality and wellbeing for all students at Newcastle University. 

'I was part of... a cheerleading team, which was incredibly fun and I met the best people doing it! However, it also made me aware that particular sports/extra-curricular activities aren't taken as seriously as others, particularly if participants are mainly women.'

Beyond ensuring all voices are heard, Nadia's aims include raising awareness of inequality and discrimination, celebrating the different cultures within our community, increasing the number of all-gender toilets around campus and improving wait times for mental health support. Alongside her BAME welcome packs project with Dorothy, Nadia has worked on hiring Inclusive Buddies who will welcome and support students from low-participation neighbourhoods and BAME backgrounds during their time at Newcastle. Nadia has also provided responsible support around drug-use as well as supporting the Trans Awareness Week campaign in November. 

'This is part of what has driven my passion for representing women, people of colour, and the LGBTQ+ community on campus. I'm excited to use my role to enhance equality and wellbeing for students.'

If you would like to know more about Nadia's campaigns or about welfare and equality in our community, you can get in touch via email at welfare.union@ncl.ac.uk. Nadia also shares her activities via Twitter and you can find her latest here.


Activities Officer

Hannah Finney

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Heading up NUSU's student activities is Hannah Finney, BA History and Archaeology and MA International Relations graduate. Hannah was intrigued by the role due to her already embellished experience with NUSU activities, being Publicity Officer and then Secretary for one of NUSU's largest societies, the Raising and Giving Society. She also went on to organise Fresher's Week 2019. As a whole, Hannah's position oversees the activities provided by our Students' Union, including being a voice for the 160+ societies currently operating. 

"I ran for Activities Officer as I am incredibly passionate about making the most of being at university, and I hope to encourage students to take part in as many extra-curricular activities as possible!"

Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic has meant that many events and activities have had to change the way they operate, meaning Hannah has had to swiftly adjust her manifesto too. So far, alongside the ever-changing Covid-19 restrictions, Hannah has been ensuring the usual events and activities can run smoothly and safely online, including the Fresher's Fair, Societies AGM and training sessions. She has also been a part of many University meetings, including the Winter Break Support Group, the Accommodation Working Group and the Student Experience Sub-Committee to ensure student activities are an important part of all discussions. Alongside Covid-19 priorities, she has continued to improve promotional opportunities and encourage collaborations between societies. 

'I want to encourage collaborations between societies. I think this will offer a good opportunity for students to meet people from different walks of life and different interests.'

It's been an unprecedented year for all forms of events, yet Hannah has continued to support our student societies and keep our student body entertained. Whether you're part of a student society or not, you can reach Hannah via email at activities.union@newcastle.ac.uk or connect with her via Twitter here.

Athletic Union Officer

Benthe Tanghe

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Helping to guide our Athletic Union this year is Masters graduate, Benthe Tanghe. Originally from the Netherlands, Benthe arrived in Newcastle for the first time as an Erasmus+ exchange student planning to stay for just one semester. However, instead of returning home, the Toon made a lasting impression on her and she went on to study a Masters in International Relations. As Athletic Union Officer, Benthe hopes to make Team Newcastle more inclusive, accessible, and most of all, united, regardless of what sport you are a part of. 

"I began playing for the 1st Women’s Football team over the past couple of years and the Athletic Union became a big part of my university experience, and one of the main reasons that I didn’t want to leave Newcastle University."

Similar to activities and events, Benthe has had to adjust her manifesto significantly to adhere to Covid-19 restrictions. Despite such unprecedented challenges, she has worked closely with our Sports Centre to get as much sport operating as possible within government guidelines, prioritised club safety at all costs, remained committed to mental health support within the Athletic Union and sat in many University meetings to ensure all clubs receive the support they need. She has also worked toward and announced that a full refund will be given to students who have purchased a Sports and Fitness membership this year. Therefore, due to Benthe's efforts, all students will be able to make use of the Sports and Fitness Centre, when it re-opens, free of charge for the remainder of the academic year.

Inspired by her own experience as an EU student, Benthe has also been actively supporting our international students through the complexities of the Brexit transition period and Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring their needs are met in all circumstances. 

"Sport will be running very differently to what we are used to this coming year but I will be working closely with all our clubs (and students wanting to get involved in sports) to support any challenges we may face." 

Though an unusual year for sport, Benthe has proven her commitment to our Athletic Union and will continue to do so as normality returns. If you have any questions or concerns about sport at Newcastle University, Benthe can be reached via email at au.union@newcastle.ac.uk and you can also stay tuned to her latest updates via Twitter here.


Postgraduate Officer

Charlotte Boulton

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Representing those studying a postgraduate degree this year is Charlotte Boulton, NUSU's Postgraduate Officer. Joining NUSU after her Media, Communications and Culture undergraduate degree, and Sociology masters degree, Charlotte is committed to supporting all postgraduate students through their university journey at Newcastle.

'I'm here to make sure postgraduate students are supported in all things academic, welfare and social throughout their time here at Newcastle.'

In her time as Postgraduate Officer, Charlotte hopes to represent all postgraduate needs in University meetings, organise welcome events, create online postgraduate communities and overall, ensure postgraduates are not unfairly disadvantaged by Covid-19 adjustments. So far, she has recently organised a Mental Health campaign which focuses on the unique experiences and the wellbeing of postgraduate students. She has also organised a timetable of postgraduate events to ensure all students feel welcome here at Newcastle, held online discussion groups to interact, socialise and assist with any queries and ensured all postgraduate needs are met in various University meetings.

 'I've made the most of student life, and now, I'm excited to support PG students and make change happen here at NUSU.'

If you're a current postgraduate student looking for advice or someone thinking about pursuing postgraduate study at Newcastle in the future, Charlotte can be contacted via email at pg.union@newcastle.ac.uk. Follow her on Twitter here.


The Editor of The Courier

Ella Williams 

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Founded in 1948, The Courier is Newcastle University's award-winning student newspaper, managed and guided this academic year by Ella Williams. As the Editor of The Courier, Ella oversees not only the production and content of the newspaper (both physically and digitally) but also manages a team of talented sub-editors and student writers. 

'With the current challenges we are all facing, I think that student media and journalism will be more important than ever to bring students together and keep them informed and engaged with University life.'

Despite having extremely limited access to The Courier office and facilities on campus, Ella and her team have had an impressive year so far. From rebranding The Courier entirely, tidying and improving the digital presence and developing a weekly e-newsletter to adjusting to remote working, managing online meetings and organising remote access to crucial Adobe software, it's clear that The Courier has remained an award-winning paper, regardless of the present challenges. 

In addition to her role as Editor, Ella has also been getting involved in a variety of projects with her fellow Sabbatical Officers. Most recently, she has collaborated with Nadia on NUSU's most recent campaign,  'Feel Yourself February' (FYF), which focuses around body positivity, acceptance and self love. Providing a vast range of resources including podcasts, articles and books, FYF is NUSU's first ever body-image campaign and hopes to create a safe space for students to speak about body-image during the pandemic and beyond. 

"If you want to find out more about our student media, you can find me in the Courier office on the first floor of the Students' Union, buried behind piles of papers, probably stressing over a font size or something…"

For those interested in writing for The Courier, you can learn more about how to get involved here. Likewise, if you have any questions or concerns regarding the student paper, you can also reach Ella via email at editor.union@newcastle.ac.uk or follow her on Twitter here.


Liberation & Chairs of NUSU

Haaris Qureshi (Chair of Scrutiny), Sohum Pandya (BAME Officer), Kate Bennetto (Disability Officer), William Hayes (Faith & Beliefs Officer), Harriet Stanway-Gordon (Student Parents, Carer or Guardian Officer), Christopher Winter (Chair of Council), Jennifer Mills (Marginalised Genders Officer), Ali Zuhad & Hussnain Shahid (International Students Officer), Ben Campbell (LGBTQ+ Officer) & Kieren Peel (Commuting Students Officer)


Alongside the elected full-time roles, NUSU also provides the opportunity for students to get involved in voluntary roles too, titled as Liberation Officers and Chairs. These positions represent and guide crucial areas of the student experience, such as BAME, disability and LGBTQ+ support, chairing our student council as well as scrutinising and reviewing elements of our Union itself. As well as being the student voice for their position, they often collaborate with the Sabbatical Officers for various campaigns, host events and valuable training sessions and, overall, aim to build a supportive community for their specific area.

There we have it, our full list of officers and chairs within our Students' Union! If you'd like to get involved in the Student Elections 2021, NUSU's candidates for all student positions are now live. From President through to Chair of Council, your candidates have written their manifestos to express why you should vote for them to represent you next academic year.

Voting is open until Thursday 4th March so make sure to explore the manifestos and decide who you're supporting. Ready to choose your favourite? Meet the candidates here.


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