Become a School or Course Rep!

We’re searching for nominations for this year’s School & Course Reps!

They’re the vital link between our students and academic staff. They listen to students’ views, feed these back to staff members and make the changes that students want to see happen.

Each course at Queen’s has at least one Course Rep. They do some really important work to represent you:


Each School at Queen’s has one School Rep. They work across the School in different ways:


Becoming a School or Course Rep is an amazing opportunity for you to make a huge impact at Queen’s and improve the experience of all your friends and fellow students. Just look at some of the things they’ve done in the past…


Plus you’ll meet loads of new people, get lots of training, learn new skills and could even be rewarded with a Queen’s Degree Plus Accreditation.

Find out more and nominate yourself on the Students’ Union website

  • to be a Course Rep by 5pm, Friday 7 October
  • to be a School Rep by 5pm, Wednesday 12 October


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Top Tips to Survive Fresher’s Week

Hello everyone!

My name is Jess and I’m your Student Welfare Officer here in Queen’s Students’ Union.

As Welfare Officer it is my top priority to ensure all your welfare needs are met. I’m here to help with any welfare problems you might have like your general well-being, mental and sexual health, housing or safety. I provide a drop in listening service where you can talk about these things that might be affecting you in a safe, non-judgemental and confidential space. As well as this I often run campaigns campus wide to create awareness and tackle important issues! I just finished my nursing degree so I’m now a real life registered nurse! Who better to look after your welfare?

Here’s my top tips for surviving the next few weeks…

GET ENOUGH SLEEP it can get pretty noisy this time of the year- think of a carnival or circus but on steroids. Don’t underestimate how much you WILL need sleep! Sleep allows time for your body to relax and rejuvenate after all those long days and evenings!

JOIN A CLUB OR SOCIETY Go to Fresher’s Fair (next Wednesday and Thursday in the Union) and see what clubs and societies are on offer! Here at Queens we have some weird and wonderful societies you will never find outside of university, so make the most of it! It’s a great way to meet new people and improve your skills.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF our Fresher’s events are over two weeks, so that’s 14 days of seriously heavy socialising! If you are having a drink or two be responsible! Don’t forget to pace yourself and have a glass of water every now and again to stay hydrated. Never feel pressurised into drinking- if you don’t want to go out one night, or just aren’t a fan of drinking, that is completely fine – It does not make you any less of a student!

IT’S OK TO MISS HOME Missing home, your friends and family is completely understandable. But remember you are not alone. You can talk to other fresher’s about how you are feeling or drop into the Student Officer Office on the 2nd floor of the Students’ Union, there are 5 of us here who know what you’re going through! Keep in contact with home, even if it is just once a week and make your room as homey as possible- it really helps when you have serious homesick days!

STAY SAFE I could run campaigns until the cows came home, but there a few fundamental things you need to do yourself.  If you expect you might have a bit of a wild night, be sure to carry a condom or two ‘just in case’. Always let people know where you are going and in case of emergencies have someone on speed dial. Here in the SU we have a ‘Cab Now. Pay Later’ scheme with Value Cabs. If you are short on money and need a way home- please don’t walk! If you give the driver your student card they leave it at the SU reception so you can pay at a later date. Once you’ve paid your fare, you’ll get your student card back! Simples.

ENJOY YOURSELF- Most importantly, HAVE FUN! And if it’s not the best week of your life…Don’t Worry! You have your whole university experience ahead of you!

Lots of Love,

Jess x




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MSM Blood Ban Victory

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Today  marks a partial win in the fight for equality for our LGBT+ family. Following the Department of Health’s announcement back in June, Men who have sex with Men (MSM) and Women who have or had sex with Men who have sex with Men (WSMSM) can, from today, officially donate blood provided that they have abstained from sexual activity for one year.

This signifies an important step in a larger victory for our citizens and our society. The previous system of blood donation operated by way of a discriminatory lifetime ban which prevented MSM from donating. However, there was no scientific justification or rationale for this practice, bar LGBT+phobic notions that ‘gay’ blood was to be rejected. Not only did it fly in the face of equality and respect, but it was also fundamentally pointless and illogical due to the screening process which all donated blood undergoes to ensure its safety. Sexually transmitted infections can happen to anyone, and so singling out large groups of society based on their sexual orientation and practices was nothing less than blatant discrimination disguised as a feeble explanation. Moreover, the senselessness of it all was furthered by the fact that we import blood from Great Britain (where the ban is currently one-year) when stocks are running low.

After being subjected to legal challenges and a subsequent review, the Department for Health confirmed back in June that the lifetime ban would be reduced to a one-year deferral period.

While one year is still a scientifically unnecessary and impractical restriction on blood donation, the reduction from a lifetime ban underlines that lobbying and activism can achieve real and effective change. Queen’s Students’ Union, along with our LGBT+ Society, have a proud history of campaigning to remove this practice which isolated so many potential donors and only served to put our resources under added pressure.

In recent years, your Union has launched petitions amassing thousands of signatures including the Vice-Chancellor, Patrick Johnston. This then grew to become the ‘Can’t Donate? Nominate.’ Campaign, encouraging those who couldn’t donate to nominate a friend to donate blood on their behalf. Those who participated and supported the campaign penned personal messages, outlining the reasons why the ban should be lifted, onto ‘Can’t Donate? Nominate.’postcards which were then sent to Health Minister, Simon Hamilton MLA,

We recently welcomed the current Minister for Health, Michelle O’Neill MLA, to Queen’s Students’ Union to mark the official date that those previously affected could now donate. We congratulated her on getting the approval of the Executive in the Minister’s early weeks in office and reminded her about the SU’s efforts in lobbying on this issue. The current Vice President for Equality & Diversity, Stephen McCrystall, welcomed the Minister to the Union, alongside the previous Equality & Diversity Officer (Current VP Education) Oisín Hassan, and the Vice President for Equality & Citizenship in the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Síona Cahill. QUBSU stands in solidarity with our colleagues in the South who also call for the blood ban to be lifted there and we are hopeful that they will enjoy a similar victory in the not too distant future.

Today serves as a reminder of how it is always important that we celebrate victories when they arise – no matter how big or small. This is a victory, but it is a bittersweet one; we have to look at the bigger picture and work to secure something beyond a compromise. We must ensure that we do not grow complacent or let inequality pervade our society, particularly when there is no sound justification for doing so.  The ‘Missing Type’ campaign by NIBTS highlights the decline in blood donors, and so we must strive to ensure that we maximise the eligible number of people who can donate, not place limits on it through arbitrary practices.

Students have made their voices heard on this issue in the past, and we are confident that they will continue to make their views known in the future. One year of celibacy is not a perfect solution, but it is a start, and provides us with a platform to secure the outcome that both equality and science calls for.

With that in mind, the ‘Can’t Donate. Nominate.’ campaign continues… and we hope as always we can call upon your support.

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Are Ye Well – Nightline Service Now Available!

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It’s that dreaded time of the year again – exam time! You may find yourself increasingly stressed with exams and coursework and we want to remind you that your SU are always here to answer any questions you have. But sometimes you might just want a friendly person to listen to your worries and concerns and a group of student volunteers have realised this and have came together to create a service to just that – it’s called Nightline!

I asked some of the volunteers a few simple questions about Nightline, have a read below:

  • What is Nightline?

Nightline is a student volunteer service at Queen’s which provides a student-to-student listening and information service. We’re happy to talk to students about anything and everything, from exam stress, relationship break ups to feeling homesick. We operate under 5 key principles: anonymity, confidentiality, non-judgemental, non-advisory and non-directing.

  •  What do you mean by anonymity and confidentiality?

None of the calls or the messages we receive can be traced and are never stored afterwards. We never ask you for personal details. No identifying information within a call will ever be passed to another Nightline volunteer or member of Queen’s staff.

  • Is Nightline a counselling service?

No, our volunteers do not give advice or suggestions. We only listen to callers, get them to explore their own emotions and feelings, and let them decide what they want to do. If a caller directly asks for information on a topic, we can help them, for example giving someone the phone number for the Samaritans.

  • When can I ring Nightline?

We’re starting our service on Friday 13th May, and will run every TUESDAY and FRIDAY evening before the end of term. We will run between 8pm in the evening and 2am in the morning.

  • How do I get in touch with Nightline?

You can either ring us up or drop us a message.

Our telephone number is 02890 975453

Or you can talk to us via messaging online using


Best Wishes for exams! QUB Nightline 

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The Volunteering Excellency Awards – nominate now!


Queen’s students are known around the world for going that extra mile – that little bit further than just the educational experience. We’ve seen projects by Queen’s students that have literally transformed people’s lives. And they do all of this whilst balancing a degree.

Volunteering is particularly important to me as it was something I was heavily involved in at University and something that transformed my life. I wouldn’t be typing this blog as a Student Officer, had I not done so.

It’s important to recognise and celebrate the volunteering efforts of our Schools, students, staff and alumni and celebrate the positive contribution they have made to the community, locally as well as further afield. That’s why we organise the annual Students’ Union Volunteering Excellency Awards.

Nominations are now open for 2016 and the categories are as follows:

  • Staff Volunteer of the Year
  • Voluntary/Charitable Event or Activity of the Year
  • Voluntary/Charitable Club or Society of the Year
  • Voluntary/Charitable School of the Year
  • Student Representative of the Year
  • Sports Volunteer of the Year
  • Special Contribution Award

If you’re a Queen’s student or staff member, you can nominate yourself, another individual, a staff member, a School, a Club, a Society, an event or an activity for one or more of the above award categories by 12noon, Friday 13 May.

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Blood Drive on Campus – if you Can’t Donate. Nominate! Help us lift the MSM blood ban


Last semester we launched our campaign ‘Can’t Donate. Nominate’ to end the lifetime blood ban for men who have sex with men (MSM). The ban is discriminatory on the grounds of sexuality, and is founded on an outdated hatred of men having sex with men as an abnormal behaviour, or as inherently dangerous to the health of the general population. These notions, rooted in hatred and rejection of LGBT+ identities and humanity, don’t belong in a modern society. The ban also discriminates against women who have or have had sex with MSM (abbreviated to WSMSM).

We believe that public policy should be based on equality and respect, but also that it should be in the public interest. Currently all blood donations are screened, because regardless of sexuality, anyone could contract a sexually transmitted disease. If screening is safe, (and it is safe!) then there is no public interest argument for banning gay and bisexual men from donating blood. It simply acts to brand them as ‘dirty’.

At the minute Northern Ireland import blood from GB were the lifetime ban has been lifted…so if we’re happy to import so-called ‘gay blood’ from elsewhere there is no argument against why the ban cannot be lifted here too. It’s clear that homophobia permeates our public policy, and acts against the greater good of ensuring sufficient blood stocks and a healthy population.

Since the last Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service (NIBTS) blood drive on campus in October I’ve been posting your ‘Can’t Donate. Nominate’ postcards weekly to the Health Minister, Simon Hamilton, and it’s starting to have an impact. In December the Minister confirmed that a review of the ban would take place. While this is a positive step, the Department continues to fight a court ruling that the ban is inherently bigoted and unnecessary.

In GB the MSM blood donation ban is two-years, rather than a lifetime one. This is based on the flawed notion that MSM and WSMSM must be celibate for two years before they are able to donate. This policy is perhaps even more flawed than our own lifetime ban, and we would not advocate for the two-year rule. Simply, everyone regardless of sexuality should be free to donate blood.

Tomorrow, 26April, NIBTS are in the Union, and we’re asking you to go along to The Space and donate blood. But not only that, we’re asking you to donate blood on behalf of those who are banned from doing so by this homophobic and bi-phobic law.

The strength of the student voice and the impact it can have on the public discourse and on Government decision making is evidenced by the promise of a review. We need to ensure that review goes ahead and that it results in a full lifting of the blood ban, not just a compromise of two-year’s celibacy.

For those of you who are discriminated against by the MSM Blood Ban, we’re asking you to nominate a friend to donate on your behalf. Last semester NIBTS had over 300 students try to donate, with 200 successfully donating their blood. That goes to show just how important students are in this fight.

The student movement is a collective one, and has already done a lot to influence the change we want to see on this issue, so tomorrow if you ‘Can’t Donate. Nominate!’


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Wash Your Mouth Out – Think positively. Speak positively.

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The words you use can really impact others. We use words and phrases every day without thinking about their true meaning and the effect they can have on others.

How many times have you said phrases such as ‘man up’ or ‘don’t be a retard’ or ‘my facebook was fraped’ without even thinking about what you are actually saying…we know that these are common everyday phrases that everyone uses but does that really make it ok to use them?

I want to create a more inclusive environment for our students and I’m asking everyone (including myself!) to ‘Wash Your Mouth Out’ and really think about the power of the words you choose to use and how they can both offend and continue to reinforce society’s stereotypes.

Here’s some examples of the types of words and phrases I am talking about – I for one know I have used some of them in the past but I plan to make a conscious effort to think before I speak to help eradicate this type of language.

Frape around 1 in 7 students have experienced serious sexual assault. Violating someone’s Facebook privacy is totally unacceptable, but so is belittling the experience of sexual assault and rape victims.

Slut no one should be ashamed of having sex, neither should anyone make them feel that way. When 1 in 3 sexual assault survivors believe they won’t be believed if they report crimes against them how would such a word affect them?

Feminazi disagreeing with someone politically does not allow you to equate them to the systematic murder of 7 million during WWII. Rational debate is healthy

 “Don’t be a pussy” Equating someone’s genitalia with weakness is just weird. We’re pretty sure that your testicles aren’t all that robust. Disclaimer: we’d advice against testing that theory out.

“Man up!” Reinforcing gender stereotypes and enforcing your view of what a ‘man’ should be is sexist, inferring women are inferior, and often homophobic.

 “That’s so gay” Using someone’s sexuality to denote something that is unacceptable feeds into the homophobic culture of society. LGB+ students are more likely to consider dropping out than heterosexual students, and are much more likely to feel unsafe on campus – let’s help change that!

Queer derogatory slang that describes someone who does not conform to normative ideas of gender or sexuality. Reclaimed by the LGBT+ community in pride. Loud & queer! (rainbow)

“Which do you prefer?”/”So you’re half gay?” Bisexuality often gets forgotten or ‘erased’, yet the B in LGB makes up just over 50% of that community. Bisexuality is an identity that should be respected, understood, and not belittled.

Tranny for Trans students issues of healthcare and personal safety are very prevalent, while they also face a daily struggle to be recognised in a way that wish to be. Derogatory language like ‘tranny’ are words they hear repeatedly. Imagine it was you.

“So what’s your real name?” My real name is the one I just told you. Non-binary people often get asked what their ‘real’ name is. This is demeaning of their individuality.

Pronouns such as “he”, “she” or “they”. If someone asks to be known or addressed by a specific pronoun then you should respect that. How would you like to be referred to as “it”? Clue: you wouldn’t.


Gypsy Travellers from any ethnic background or country deserve to be referred to in a respectful way. They’re human too, and stereotyping the characteristics of entire ethnic groups is never on.

“So, where are you really from?” I just told you… I’m from Belfast. Just because a person appears to be from an ethnic minority, doesn’t mean they aren’t as much a part of your local community as you are.

“That’s so…” Irrational? You wanted to say irrational, right? Instead you chose retarded or spastic. If you checked the dictionary you’d know that one means to delay or decelerate, and the other is a medical term. We’ll leave it up to you to find out which is which! But neither means uncool, absurd etc

“You don’t look sick, get over it!” Mental illness is a hidden disability that will affect 1 in 4 of us, so at some point you may face issues of anxiety or depression too. Bear that in mind next time you question whether someone is actually feeling unwell or not.

“You don’t look disabled.” What does a disabled person look like? Disability can be hidden or visible. If someone informs you they are disabled, it isn’t your right to question that. They don’t need to provide you with a doctor’s note to validate your sense of what they should look or act like.

“Think positive… it’s all in your head!” You aren’t trying to be unhelpful, but mental illness isn’t something people just snap out of. Instead ask how they are, or if there is something you can do to help them. Now that’s positive!

Think we’ve gone “PC mad”? The ‘Wash Your Mouth Out’ campaign isn’t supposed to be negative, rather it’s supposed to make you think in a positive way about others around you. We’ve all had loved ones referred to in a derogatory or demeaning way, so why should it be ok for you to treat someone else the same way?

Think positively. Speak positively.

“Being ‘politically correct’ means using language that respects other peoples’ oppressions and wounds.” – Leslie Feinburg


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Top Tips for a Safe & Sound St Paddy’s Day

Some Queen’s students hear the Christmas adverts during December singing ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’ and think to themselves – no way, that’ll come in three months’ time in March.

While Paddy’s Day can be fantastic – areas like the Holylands have gained a bit of a bad rep around Paddy’s Day and this has resulted in people being disciplined by Belfast City Council, the PSNI and the University.

In my first couple of months as Student Officer, Community eight students were considered for suspension because of their behaviour on St. Patrick’s Day. Suspended for a year from your course… I’ve been to a fair few parties over the years and I can tell you that none of them have been worth that! 

Statistics from last year!

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So I’ve a few words of advice to help you avoid being one of the St Paddy’s day Statistics;

1) Keep the music down– otherwise you’ll end up fined and disciplined by both the Council and the University (which will stay on your record til graduation).

2) Mind your mates – make sure everyone is safe and sound. If someone seems a bit worse for wear, get them some water and food or better yet put them to bed.

3) The PSNI will be doing a large scale anti-drink driving campaign around the University area on the 18th March. Please make sure you have given enough time between stopping drinking and driving your car. In general, alcohol is removed from the blood at the rate of about one unit an hour.

4) Strangers from outside areas come into places like the Holylands looking for a party. This has been one of the biggest problems over the past few years and many students have had their house seriously damaged. Don’t let people into your house that you don’t know.

5)  Look after yourself. Make sure you’re fed and watered and try not to put yourself in potentially dangerous situations.

6)  The Students’ Union is here to represent you; if the worst happens and you get yourself in trouble it is incredibly important that you call in to speak to us (our office is on the second floor of the Students’ Union).

This year for the first time in years the Students’ Union will be open on Paddy’s Day. Why not come over and join us.

Enjoy yourself (responsibly of course!).


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Walking like a Cowboy – Female Strength Training

So I signed up to the Female Strength Training course way back in January alongside Hannah Niblock, Student Officer Education, as one of our New Year’s resolutions that we all make to be healthier.

I should perhaps rewind ever so slightly. I started my job as a Student Officer in July 2014 and I have put on nearly two stone, and am constantly tired, relying on lattes to keep my energy up. When you become a Student Officer people joke about the ‘Sabb Stone’ and I laughed it off but with eratic working hours and meetings every other night of the week you grab what you can to eat, which tends to be a £3 chippie box in my case…

I am not here to encourage people to lose weight or to dislike their bodies, I want all of our students to love themselves, but for many of us that is a journey. And particularly for me, it’s one about regaining energy and fitness.

Back in October I blogged about starting a couch to 5k to kick start my healthy regime but unfortunately had to stop due to the most horrendous shin splints. So I was back to square one. I also bought a bike and vowed to cycle everywhere and to be fair, I do cycle to and from work…although that may or may not only be a two minute journey!!

So back to the point of the blog, I have now completed two classes of my Female Strength Training and I have absolutely LOVED it! I went along to my first class and I was slightly apprehensive about what to expect, would this be another circuits class? Would I be forced to bench-press weight I couldn’t manage? What even was a bench-press?! Would I be surrounded by women who knew what to do already?

However, I went into a room with about 20 other women of all ages, shapes and sizes. I didn’t feel intimidated at all. I felt totally at ease. I am one of those people who sometimes has slight anxiety about social settings that I’m not used too and I can honestly say that this wasn’t the case.

Our instructor, Neil Thompson who is a personal trainer at Queen’s Sport has been absolutely fantastic. He is incredibly focused on form and technique which was something I severely lack. On our first session it literally felt like I was doing everything wrong but Neil was really supportive and helped me to realise that getting technique right is so important in order to avoid injury. Our first session was similar to a circuit session so that we got used to different types of weights and techniques. This was my first experience with resistance bands and walking across the room like a cowboy was hilarious.

After my first session I could definitely feel it everywhere… this means its working? Right?!!

The second session involved learning how to do a dead-lift and a squat and finished off with a small circuit again which involved resistance training and weights. Hannah couldn’t make this session so I teamed up with another girl and made a new friend. I was definitely not as sore the next day as I was after my first session. PROGRESS!!

All in all, I would definitely recommend this to any one regardless of their level of fitness as it’s a class designed to give you confidence and teach you technique. I will be blogging in another couple of weeks to document any changes in my fitness, energy and mood! Female Strength Training is currently on every Wednesday in the PEC from 6:30-7:30pm.

Definitely consider checking it out next semester!


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Become a Diversity Ambassador!

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At Queen’s Students’ Union we’re known for providing exciting opportunities for our students, such as InnovateHer, Inspiring Leaders, and Homework Clubs. This year we’re delighted to introduce a new scheme in Semester 2 – The Diversity Ambassadors Programme! But what is Diversity Ambassadors, and what can it achieve?

Queen’s University is becoming more and more diverse – our student body is made of many different cultures, genders, sexualities, races and religions. We want to celebrate this and support our students in becoming more aware of how to recognise and showcase our diverse and multi-cultural campus.

The Diversity Ambassadors programme will offer training that will really challenge your thinking on issues of diversity. We want to develop awareness of the issues, but also get our students thinking outside of the box. Do you recognise diversity on campus? How is it being successfully highlighted currently? Do we need to raise more awareness, and how?

Ultimately the programme will equip students with skills and leadership qualities, while introducing them to a diverse group of students who will bring fresh perspectives to Queen’s and the wider world. We will facilitate our Ambassadors to initiate diversity awareness and recruitment in their Club or Society, to launch campaigns around a topic that matters to them, or to put on an event that brings together students from different backgrounds.

The programme will kick off on March 10th at 6pm with a meet-up and our first training session, and will be followed by a residential training session on 13th and 14th March. We’ll be revealing details of the residential in due course, but it’s not to be missed!*

The programme will culminate in QUB Culture Week where we hope to showcase the work of our Ambassadors!

Sign me up I hear you say?! The application process is now open and you can find out all the details here.

I’m very excited about Diversity Ambassadors and what it could potentially achieve, and I’m even more excited to meet you all very soon 🙂



*Please note our residential is an overnight stay. Accommodation, food costs etc. will be funded.

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