What is a STYM?

27/09/2023

Orla Mc Andrew (she/her) speaks to Lilly Fox about being a STYM.

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Image by Constantine

By Orla McAndrew

You’ve heard from a head STYC, but now it’s time to hear from a STYM ( second and third-year mentor), the key difference between the two is the final letter! The key difference is that STYMs stay with you after freshers as a main point of contact for you to the college. We spoke to LilyCox - chair of STYMs for Constantine College to find out more about the role!

What are the roles and responsibilities of STYM?
A STYM is a point of contact for first-year students within colleges to help them navigate their first year at university. This means leading regular sessions with your as-signed flat containing important information such as finding housing for the second year, coping with exam stress, what the process for re-sits are, etc. It also means being contactable to answer any questions/concerns which might pop up outside of sessions, from the process of taking a book out of the library to where the best place in town is for cocktails! Asa STYM you offer a friendly and university-experienced face to ease the worries of freshers.

What is the difference between STYMs and STYCs?

STYCs are around during Freshers Week to support freshers as they settle in and start to build relationships within the college. The STYM role takes over from this post freshers for support and questions as university life and lectures really begin. While STYCs are there to support, they are also there to facilitate fun and bonding and are not available following on from the initial week. The STYMs act as a consistent point of contact throughout the year to direct questions and concerns to.

Can you give us a rundown of what your ‘Freshers Week’ will look like?
This years’ CSA has done a fantastic job of creating a fun-packed Freshers’ Week forour newest students here at Constantine. From help on arrival day, to club nights, daytime activities and non-drinking events -there really is something for everyone. While STYCs take main responsibility during these events, STYMs do play a role in the week, and will be around on arrival’s day to help new students move into their new flat and introduce themselves. They will then be running the Monday night ‘Glasshouse Quiz’ event a very popular event in previous years - with lots of great prizes up for grabs! STYMs will then be around on Wednesday morning at the ‘Hangover Breakfast’ where students are welcome to come along and enjoy a range of pastry breakfast foods with their flats - a great place to ask any questions which may have already arisen over the first few days.

Who can be a STYM?
Anyone! Being a STYM is a great way to stay involved with your college and help incoming students in the same way you will have been helped in your first year. We often see that the role is undertaken by students who are also STYCs, and where possible, we keep flats consistent over both roles. This way the relationships built during Freshers’ Week can continue on throughout the year.

What is your favourite thing about the STYM programme?
My favourite thing about the STYM programme are the benefits it has for students in their first year. It is great to see the circle of students who find the programme beneficial and helpful, and then become STYMs to giveback in the same way. I am especially proud to chair the programme in Constantine Col-lege, the founding college of the STYM system, and see how an idea which started here has developed and spread across all colleges at the university.

What made you apply to be a STYM?
I think becoming a STYM is a fantastic way of giving back to your college and supporting new students - not to mention the fact that it is a brilliant way of making friends! It also means that you can share your knowledge of university life, and help to ease the stress of our newest students.

What is your favourite thing about being a STYM?
For me, the best part about being a STYM is all the new people you get to meet and interact with - both freshers and fellow STYMs.  It is a great way of joining a new community of people dedicated to helping and supporting others, as well as throwing yourself into university life and meeting as many new people as possible. I strongly believe you can never have too many friends at university!

What have you found most exciting about organising Freshers week?
This year we have changed the operation of the STYM programme at the college with the hopes of offering further benefits for incoming students.The most significant change we’ve made is to centralise sessions within the college. This allows students to still interact with their STYMs and receive the information from the sessions, but in a neutral environment (TheForum) as opposed to their own living spaces which proves intrusive at times. This will also solve the problem of STYMs being stuck outside of flats, which has been a significant limitation over recent years! This new approach will also mean that the quality of support from the program will not be impacted by having fewer STYMs, and instead, students will have access to better-trained and more passionate STYMs in a more comfortable environment. Students will also gain control over how long they remain in the sessions - if they feel they have all the information they need, they are able to leave. Alternatively, if they have any further questions or concerns, they are able to stay after a session and engage with the STYMs and the STYM committee privately. We hope these changes will allow students to more easily access STYM support and remove the fear of judgement from flat/housemates. In doing this, the STYM programme better achieves its original intention - a student-led resource within colleges that provides year-long support to new joiners - and, importantly, puts those in need of support in control. We are excited to see the impact these changes will have over the coming year.

What is your biggest piece of advice to an incoming Fresher?
Just to throw yourself into everything the university and your college has to offer! It can be such a daunting time, but the best way to settle in and make friends is to give everything a go.