On Tuesday 6th of March, the candidates running for the position of Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer participated in a hustings run by Dimitrios Potsos.
This year there are four candidates running for the position of Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer: Grace (LEMON) Lawrence, Zoe Mackenzie, Fortune Mahachi, and Ellie Feasey. Here’s how they answered some of your questions…
How are you planning to ensure that libraries being open 24/7 does not affect students mental health?
Ellie admits that she too takes full advantage of the extended library hours. She mentions the continuation of the exam welfare packs that were started a few years ago. In addition, she would put up posters around the library which promote the importance of sleeping, eating and physical health.
Grace notes the importance of rest. She proposes creating a de-stress zone, like an animal zone or a sensory room.
Zoe understands the issue, but notes that everyone a has different way of working. She suggests running a campaign around exam stress and introducing a Welfare in Societies committee would be good ways to aid stressed students.
“Grace says that it is important students realise there are a lot of services they can use”
What would you do if a distressed student came to the SU and asked for your help?
Ellie goes on to say that it is important that students are aware that she is not a trained councillor therefore would not be able to give proper advice. She would, however, provide them information of who to get into contact with from all of the different services within the University.
Grace says that it is important students realise there are a lot of services they can use. However, she is very compassionate, so she would check up on them herself too, maybe drop them a message.
Zoe notes that the officer role does not entail directly supporting students because that would be impossible. She would “signpost that student to relevant service”. She notes there are plenty of great services within the University.
How do you plan to work with the part-time officers and properly represent the Equal Opps section of the position?
Ellie says that she already has dealt with issues related to equal opportunities and the Liberation Network. She went on to say that is important to have a better relationship with the part-time officers by working with them through various campaigns.
“It’s very important these things are not disregarded,” says Grace. She notes how important other campuses are.
“Equal opps is a huge area and a lot can be done for it,” says Zoe. She highlights accessibility as a particularly important issue and proposes to do a campus wide review of accessibility.
“Ellie says that she already has dealt with issues related to equal opportunities and the Liberation Network”
There is currently a lack of counsellors capable of helping international students with mental health counselling. How do you plan to tackle the problem?
Ellie said that she was made aware of this problem a few months ago from students in the international community. In order to tackle this, she wants there to be a review of the compulsory training that counsellors take and would also like to introduce a more diverse counselling style.
Grace is training to be a counsellor. She shares that she understands there is stigma around counselling and hopes to combat the issue.
Zoe admits that she was not aware of the issue but recognises its importance. She proposes setting up a focus group to talk to students who face this problem.
The gender pay gap for Nottingham graduates is above national average. How do you plan to tackle the issue?
Ellie says that she wasn’t aware of the statistics in reference to this, but agrees with Zoe that they should work with the career officers to find solutions to this.
Grace notes that importance of lobbying.
Zoe believes collaborating with the careers service and running a campaign could help make sure female students are taught to present their skills and experiences to employers.
“Zoe has worked with the Guild before and is aware of their concerns”
For students on a semester or year abroad, finding housing after coming back is difficult at times. How do you plan to help them?
Ellie says that she would provide these students with all the necessary information. She said that even if they are not in the UK, they should provide the students with resources that they can access in that particular country that they are studying in. In addition, she would also like to work with the Community Officer to re-integrate returning students.
Grace believes that loneliness is a big issue for these students and hopes to combat it. She also proposes working with the students to ensure they have where to live.
Zoe points out that one of her manifesto concerns ensuring students abroad are given regular updates from SU. She notes that Nightline can be phoned on Skype too. In terms of housings, she hopes to set up a service that pairs up students who are away on different semesters to make semester-long housing contracts more accessible.
How are you planning to work with the Sutton Bonington Guild?
Ellie agrees with Zoe that there needs to be regular meetings with the Guild to ensure that they are being heard so they don’t feel isolated.
Grace says it’s important to talk to the Guild, and points out that Jubilee Campus is often overlooked as well.
Zoe has worked with the Guild before and is aware of their concerns. She would like to find ways to help students out with expensive taxis to Sutton Bonington campus and hold regular meetings with the Guild.
Note: Fortune Mahachi did not attend the hustings.
Sarah Lindgarde and Goda Naujokaityte
Follow our SU Elections 2018 coverage on Facebook