POSTGRADUATE SSLC MEETING MINUTES: 17th May 2006
*Attending: Richard Dyer, Rachel Moseley, Richard Perkins, David McGowan*
1. AUT STRIKE. General feedback from students has been in support of the staff strike. However, there were some concerns about the resubmission process if the essay feedback is delayed by the strike. It was stated that students would be given the same amount of time to resubmit an essay at a later date if these delays are incurred. However, it now appears likely that the essays will be marked within the normal timeframe.
2. EQUIPMENT. It was confirmed that 5.1 surround sound equipment is due to be purchased for 043.
3. POWER ISSUES IN 001. There have been a number of problems with the power failing in 001, and reports of this have increased over the past couple of weeks. During the Easter vacation, we spoke to Douglas Wright, one of the Humanities building porters, who forwarded our concerns to the Estates office. We were given an emergency number (x22567) to call if the situation repeated itself. A poster listing this information was placed in 001. However, the instance of a non–critical power failure is considered a level 3 problem, meaning that it should be repaired within 36 hours, not including weekends. Although most instances have been fixed much more quickly than the quoted time, the lack of support on evenings and weekends in particular have been disruptive to some students' work.
An official email was subsequently sent to the Estates maintenance department requesting more concrete information on the problem and their progress in resolving it. Timothy Budden responded on May 4th, 2006, stating that they have tested the equipment in 001 without problems, and are now trying to identify faults in the mains. It was suggested that students may be bringing additional electrical items into 001 (or one of the surrounding rooms) that are causing the power to trip. He has promised to respond again if further information becomes available. However, David McGowan noted that the power cut out in 001 on Sunday 14th May at approximately 4.30pm. As far as can be ascertained, none of the surrounding rooms were being used. Furthermore, only the television was being used in 001 (with the DVD and video equipment on standby). This would appear to disprove the theory that the faults were being caused by unapproved appliances being brought into the rooms.
It was suggested that the Postgraduate SSLC Rep should be contacted in an attempt to push for a resolution in this matter. However, it also became apparent that the film studies staff were unaware of any of these power failures, and requested that these matters should be discussed internally within the department first. The film department will investigate the matter further before additional action is taken.
4. REPURCUSSIONS OF THE POWER ISSUES. The lack of power in 001 has been a problem, as it is the primary site of video dubbing for MA and PhD students. It was noted that postgraduate students are allowed to use 055 for dubbing, and may wish to book this room instead while the problem is being investigated. The possibility of making duplicate keys available from SSLC reps to allow for greater access to rooms out of office hours was rejected due to a possible insurance risk. Room keys must be signed out from the office due to the value of the equipment contained within. [The following was mistakenly omitted during the SSLC meeting, but discussed at the staff meeting: Suggestions to temporarily move the equipment to another room, or make a key for 055 available in 001 in the event of a power failure, were also vetoed due to impracticality and security implications for the equipment].
5. LOG BOOKS & STAFF/STUDENT TRAINING. Following the problems in 001 (and the issues with projection equipment earlier in the year), it was suggested that log books be made available in each room. If repeated problems with a piece of equipment arise, a detailed log of these faults should hopefully strengthen the department’s case in requesting assistance in fixing and/or replacing the offending technology. It is also hoped that the books could serve as a knowledge base, in which users can record how they solved or overcame particular problems.
It was suggested during the MA course review on Wednesday 17th May that staff assigned to a particular room at the beginning of a teaching year should endeavour to become familiar with the equipment in order to minimise disruption during class time. This was agreed upon during the SSLC meeting, but it was suggested that students also receive training with DVD and video projection equipment to facilitate its use in student presentations and screenings.
6. ROOM AVAILABILITY. There has been some concern regarding opportunities for postgraduate students to book departmental rooms over the summer vacation, most notably the dubbing facilities and image capture. However, Tracey will still have office hours during the summer, and other staff will be available to cover holidays and absences. As the regular hours may change slightly, however, Richard Dyer will ask Tracey to email her office hours for each upcoming week, to ensure that students can co–ordinate their trips onto campus accordingly.
7. THE FUTURE OF SSLC. With the teaching year drawing to a close, a number of ideas for improving SSLC in subsequent years were discussed. It was suggested that SSLC rep elections should be held later in the first term by a proper ballot, and that more information should be provided in the student handbook to encourage greater participation. It is also hoped that a more democratic process of communication between students and staff can be fostered, with technology such as the Warwick blogs and forums (which failed to generate much interest this year) used more effectively. Following the productive meeting concerning the AUT strike, it is hoped that more students can be encouraged to attend SSLC meetings to ensure that a wider diversity of viewpoints can be discussed.
In addition, the MA course review praised the manner in which the department encouraged interaction between MA and PhD students. It was therefore suggested that the MA SSLC meeting should become a unified postgraduate SSLC, with the PhD reps and students also invited to attend the meetings. This will take effect from the final SSLC meeting of the year (in week nine).
8. BFI LIBRARY CARDS. Following the memo from the BFI library stating that only one student at a time can use the institutional pass owned by the University of Warwick, the possibility of purchasing a second pass was discussed. However, there were some doubts as to whether it is even possible to buy a second institutional pass, since the BFI encourages heavy–users to take out their own individual pass at a reduced student rate. It also became apparent that there have been very few instances in which more than one person required use of the card on a particular day. It was therefore concluded that the department should simply encourage students to book the card in advance to avoid any clashes, and promote greater communication between students when the card is needed by two (or more) users within a short timeframe.
9. SLC 24–HOUR LOAN PERIOD. Richard Perkins noted that the library is currently canvassing opinion about switching SLC to a ‘true’ 24–hour loan period (i.e. a DVD issued at 5pm one day would be due at 5pm the next, rather than 11am). This would also enable students to renew SLC items online rather than having to renew them in person (as long as the items were not recalled by another user). It appears that the proposal is generally receiving positive feedback, and the library is considering implementing this system at the beginning of the 2006–7 academic year. Anyone who wishes to register their support or disapproval of the proposal should contact Richard Perkins.