The Welfare Officer candidates put forward their views in the UON SU Question time on the 8th March.
Katie Leach, Radhika Chond, and a representative speaking for Rachel Hoskins discussed diverse issues include the stigma around mental health and creating a central location for information about Welfare Services.
It should be noted before looking at the discussion that neither Paige Roden nor Rachel Hoskins could attend this Question Time. Furthermore, this is not a direct transcript of what was said, but instead is a general overview of their points.
Question 1: Sarah Pickup – Mental health is something you want to make an impact on. There is a lot of stigma around mental health, and this often stems from cultural attitudes – how would you tackle this?
Katie – Lots of campaigns are already doing brilliantly with this such as student minds. I cannot come up with any new campaign ideas but instead will spend my summer researching the good and bad parts of these campaigns, and what needs to be especially targeted.
Radhika – There is a lot of stigma around mental health and we need to become a lot more aware. We have a lot of services such as the student advise service. However, we don’t know how to access these, and this needs to be improved through working alongside pre-existing services. We don’t know the right answer but we will use trial and error, and sampling with those that do work. Involving you guys is the most important point. Continuity is important, but the knowledge is always needs to be fresh in their minds.
Rachel (representative)– That’s one of the biggest issues. We’re hoping to do this through a campaign called ‘Talk about it’ which will look at issues such as mental health and racism along other issues by gathering students together to discuss the issues respectfully.
Question 2: from the floor: In terms of mental health, how do you think you are going to make your campaigns accessible and how do you think you will reach people on alternative formats?
Katie – By going to different groups and different committees and by being quite friendly, approaching it with a sensitive manner.
Radhika – Treating everyone as a person, not a student or a statistic. I went to different societies, approached the people speaking with a smile on my face. It is possible to speak to me through email and I will have a nice tone. I have also been a welfare rep for American Society which showed me how people are diverse. It has been a pleasure to meet so many different people.
Rachel (representative) – She will make sure to make campaigns accessible. Her election campaign has focused on trying to be respectful, asking if people are okay to talk to, having all images described and all videos transcribed. We have been as accepting as we can be.
Question 3: from floor: Student Union is myopic on how it handles things. Also the fact that there are many that cannot use computers for whatever reason, what resources will be made available for those who cannot?
Rachel (representative) – Personally don’t know her manifesto well enough to answer this, I apologise.
Radhika – I will place rolling powerpoints to update you in the SUs. I also favour going back to print. Information shouldn’t stay online and need to be more than names. I advocate having an physical forum in an area, keeping services linked together. The info needs to be kept updated to know where people should go, and tutors should know where to send people who are struggling.
Katie – First point is that there is the student advise centre which is useful. They can have everything for leaflets have psychical things instead of talking to them and they can be used more. They are wonderful people! I will find out if they have the services on the other campuses, and I need to increase promotion of it.
Question 4: Sarah Pickup – You had a student dropped into the office complaining of discrimination, what do you do?
Radhika – The uni has no tolerance policy toward discrimination. I will take them to a safe space, ask what outcome they want, and if they allow me, I will take their complaint up with a higher authority. I will keep them comfortable and tackle it in a safe way. You (directed at the audience) are our main concerns.
Katie – I couldn’t agree more. It needs to be on an individual basis. I will discuss exactly the issues they’ve had, see what they want to happen. I will ask if they need to talk to someone. It depends on situation but I will find out what the SU can do and what needs to be done.
Rachel (representative) – The most important thing is making sure that people are feeling comfortable and to direct the student towards liberation networks and systems that offer support and then follow up with a report of discrimination.