12th June 2019

Year In Review 2019: Communities Officer Shamima Khonat

She recorded an average meeting attendance of 86.6%
Year In Review 2019: Communities Officer Shamima Khonat
Shamima Khonat. Photo: University of Manchester Students’ Union / The Mancunion

Communities, Campaigns, and Citizenship Officer Shamima Khonat has had a largely positive year in her role at the Students’ Union.

Spending the smallest proportion of the Officers’ budget, at just £33.60 – or 0.4% – Khonat has also had a very good attendance meeting record, having attended 86.6% of the events for which data was available.

That £33.60 was spent on a “train ticket for a speaker to talk on a panel regarding Prevent” according to Khonat.

However, her four listed manifesto points paint a much more mixed picture: Her pledge to “facilitate the Union’s work on issues surrounding citizenship” is difficult to interpret and subsequently difficult to measure, as is “encouraging students to lead on campaigns and support the development of existing campaigning groups and societies”. Indeed, critics of the Exec model cite these two pledges as just part of the Communities’ Officer role, rather than specific manifesto points to aim for.

Khonat’s other two points are to “direct the Union’s work on matters surrounding student accommodation and safety” and “increase bursaries for living at home students”.

In a statement to The Mancunion, Khonat lists the Rate Your Landlord survey as one of her achievements, suggesting she has at least in part achieved the former.

However, the survey was launched by the 2014-15 Exec Officer team, so it’s unclear what new work Khonat undertook on this pledge.

In the same statement, Khonat did not list increasing bursaries for living a home students as a success. She did however list “Islamophobia Awareness Month, [producing] Homelessness Campaign Supanova, contributing to Whitworth Gallery exhibition, producing a handbook for care leavers, engaging with [a] Homelessness organisation, and lobbying for faith spaces” as well as having “managed to secure halal food training and Kosher food supplier, [and] lobbying the University for Schools to consider Friday Prayers when timetabling for Muslim students”.

Khonat also claimed that the University “TLG [Teaching and Learning Group] agreed to acknowledge the religious observance”.

In terms of failures, Khonat cited a “lack of funds” resulted in her not being able to work on reducing commuter costs for living at home students.

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