Physics Buddy System
Claire Woollacott&Ruth Lovelock
The Physics Buddy System
The Buddy System is a peer support system devised by physics undergraduates in 2008/09 and introduced for October 2009 intake. It consists of existing Physics students providing support to new undergraduates.
The Buddy System:provides additional point of contact for Stage 1 students other than personal tutors.facilitates the transfer of knowledge from existing students 'Wisers', to new physics undergraduates 'Buds' who have not experienced University before.encourages inter-year contact, allowing for example more informed module choices to be made.Inter-year contact also widens circles of acquaintance, helping students to develop self-confidence, improve communication skills, and build a sense of community.opportunity for existing students to develop their social, pastoral, and organisational skills; enhancing their employability.Other than meeting their wiser on Schools Day in Welcome Week the newstudents are under no obligation to participate in the scheme.
Operation of The Buddy System
To become a wiser/buddy system coordinatorSubmit an application form to the Student Services Office in week T2:11.Applications are vetted by the Head of Physics who extracts the forms of candidates not meeting the eligibility criteria and return them with a brief explanation of the decision.Remaining applications are passed to the Senior Administrator who will liaise with the Buddy Scheme Coordinator and the successfulWisersinformed.The outgoing and incoming Coordinators organise a training session in week T3:06/T3:07 of the Summer term. This includes an introduction, discussion and role-play sessions, andWiserswill then receive, and agree to, a written code of conduct.By the end of week T1:01 Buddy Scheme Coordinator will have assigned each Wiser to a group of Buds.Wiser’sgenerally have a group of ~ 8 Buds.The Buddy System Coordinator meets withWiserson the Monday of week M0 in order to confirm their availability, issue name badges / T-shirts, and discuss final arrangements.
Operation of The Buddy System
The Buddy System has a slot in the School’s day programme (in Welcome Week) where the System is explained to the new first year students, and they get to meet theirWiser’s.30 minute slot for the Buds to meet theirWisers(tour of department).Wisersare expected to beavaliablefor the tour in Welcome Week (week T1:00) and to arrange a meeting with their Buds in week T1:01.Wisersshould be available to provide timely support to their Buds throughout the year, mainly through email.All email communication betweenWisersand Buds is copied to the BuddySystem supervision email account.Buds may discuss with their Wiser any areas of concern to do with university life in general, not just teaching and school management.The role of the Wiser is not to provide academic support although they should be willing to point them in the right direction to find the help they need.For academic help the Bud should ask their tutor.
All one to one meetings have to be held in a public space.All email communication betweenWisersand Buds must also be sent to the Buddy System supervision email accountphy-Wiser@exeter.ac.uk. (Emails to the Buddy System Coordinator should be sent tophy-Buddy@exeter.ac.uk.)At least one email should be sent by the Wiser to their Buds each term to remind them that they are there to help them.The Wiser should let their Buds and the Buddy System Co-ordinator know if they are not going to be available by email for any reason (for example, going on holiday/illness), and for how long, so that the Bud can contact the Buddy System Co-ordinator if he/she has any problems.The Wiser must be discreet as some things expressed by the Bud could be confidential.
A solid partnership between the Wiser and Bud can only be based on trust and confidentiality; anything discussed between Wiser and Bud is private, and the content and nature of any discussion or question should not be revealed to other people. There are several exceptions to this however:If both Wiser and Bud agree that the Wiser can speak to a third party about an issue or problem.If the Wiser believes that there is a risk of harm to the Bud or any other person and the Wiser must report the issue to the Buddy System Coordinator, or if appropriate directly to the Counselling Service, the Police or the Medical Service.Buds will be reminded byWisersthat their conversations will be confidential unless what is said falls under the above categories/exceptions. It will be emphasised that some issues that are discussed might have to be discussed anonymously with another person in order to gain clarity or further information. Buds will be aware that they should think very carefully before telling their Wiser a particular piece of information, that they do not want to be shared with another party. If they continue to disclose, the Wiser may be obligated, to share the information.
Ifwisersfeel uncomfortable or unsure of what to do in a situation, then they are informed to seek advice from the Buddy System Coordinator, who is there to support thewisersin their role. The Director of Education is also available to provide advice/support as necessary.Must be made clear to all parties that theWiser'srole is not the same as that of a counsellor or a doctor.If the Bud needs help with an issue of this nature, they can ask the Wiser to direct them to the Counselling Service or the Health Service, but the Wiser is not qualified to aid in these cases. For serious problems, theWiser'stask is to ensure that Buds know how to get help from the Professional Services; they do not need to be told about the details of the problem, and should not ask.
Data Retention and DeletionPolicy
Emails to thephy-Wiser@exeter.ac.ukaccount during an academic year will be retained until week T1:−2 of the following year and then deleted. Emails to the to thephy-Buddy@exeter.ac.ukaccount will normally be deleted after one year.Wisersshould must also delete all copies of their correspondence with Buds by T1:−2.