Empowering our talented students
This year it was important to me to give students a platform to showcase their talents. When I started the year, I helped to set up Terrace’s weekly Open Mic Night as well as hosting two ‘Life’s a Drag’ events – successfully giving students the opportunity to perform in a safe space and thrive. Ruby and Versarce were two young up and coming drag queens that amazed at our sold out drag events. We also had a fantastic committee of students that coordinated the Open Mic Nights and hosted the Battle of the Bands, giving those creative minds that don’t opt for the stage an opportunity to put their skills to use.
Fresh Start Festival
Fresh Start Festival was a response to the reduced sense of community amongst students as a result of COVID-19, but became a wider response to a lack of belonging after student consultation revealed many felt similar before the pandemic. During consultation, students stated that if they hadn’t found their place by January then they ‘weren’t doing university right’. We found that the community environment that surrounds Welcome Week fades as the year progresses, and people felt less encouraged to try new things. Fresh Start Festival aimed to directly alleviate those feelings.
The perception that Welcome Week is marketed at 1st year 18-20 year old students isolates many others from engaging in its activities, discouraging them from meeting new people and trying new things. Fresh Start Festival aimed to be marketed inclusively to capture all students, and encourage them to participate in the breadth of opportunities available to them here at the University of Leeds. The week-long festival hosted a diverse range of events to cater towards our broad student community.
Fresh Start Festival was student-led from the very beginning, ensuring that student needs were at the forefront of event planning. The aims of the festival were developed through consultation workshops with students, a student designer was hired to create the branding and a Student Education Service intern was hired to help with planning. To ensure that future Fresh Start Festivals remain student-led, our members should be consulted annually to ensure that the event meets our students’ needs.