By Alice Longton
With the country, and most of the world, in the midst of a viral pandemic, universities all over the country have had to suspend all studying, resources, and activities in person. This also meant that the Hull University Students’ Union had to close their doors and suspend all upcoming events. Events such as the End of Year Ball and Varsity have sadly had to be postponed completely. No matter the circumstances, the spirit of the student community has continued on. Despite our predicament, the Union, as well as the University, has both kept its students informed, included and connected. Whether it has been through constant emails from Vice-Chancellor Susan Lea, consistent communication through countless Facebook groups and communities, or staying connected to our friends, families, lecturers and more, we have all found a way to keep going and, more importantly, stay together, even from a distance.
This is not ‘social’ distancing as the socialising continues and we stand together in a time of crisis.
Despite these cancellations, the annual Hull University Students’ Union Awards, more commonly known as the HUU Awards, still had the green light. The event did have to go through a slight makeover, however. Usually, a majority of us associate award nights with a big venue, getting dressed up, getting glam and coming together to celebrate the year’s achievements from the student community. But due to Covid-19, everything had to be moved online. As well as the move, the ceremony went through changes in terms of the awards itself, updating the categories to stay up to date with other students unions. Three new awards were thereby introduced: The Sustainable Impact Award (recognising an individual volunteer or group’s dedication to creating positive environmental changes to support Hull University Students’ Union declaration of a Climate Emergency), The Liberation Award (recognising the individual or group that have gone above and beyond in understanding and promoting inclusivity and diversity), and The Partnership Award (recognising an external stakeholder or local community organisation that has collaborated with Hull University Students’ Union in supporting and developing the student experience).
Credit: HUSU Marketing
Over 200 nominations came in from students and staff, which were then shortlisted by staff. The students and groups that had been shortlisted were then told of the good news via email. This is where things had to accommodate to the new circumstances. Instead of an awards night, where the winners would be announced and they would receive their award in person, the president team and the majority of the original co-presenters (such as Steve Curtis, Head of Sport, John Harrison, Head of Careers and Susan Lea, Vice Chancellor) were in charge of recording and hosting their own videos for the winners of each category. The day of the awards was streamed on Facebook every half an hour on the 24th April, and the winners all received a certificate. Though we lost the chance this year to properly thank and appreciate both the students and the groups who have helped support Hull University Students’ Union and the local community, we have still found a way to give them the recognition they deserve. And that’s what truly matters.
Despite the uncertainty of Covid-19 and the future for both universities and the country, these winners have still gone out of their way to volunteer and lend their skills to the issues that matter: inclusivity, diversity, environmental change, building societies and groups that give back to the student community and proudly represent their union. We’ve still been able to award the winners for their efforts. Their hard work shouldn’t go unnoticed, and all of the winners are all brilliant individuals making a difference. And perhaps the online awards ceremony has said something about our current situation. Though we are all separated, there is still chance for us all to unite and celebrate the changes we have made. Things may seem tough now, but we can all get through if we stay together, online or in spirit, and maybe sometime soon, we can finally see each other again and continue with our lives and our aid towards to student community. Congratulations to all of the winners, you all deserve it so much.
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