Why are you running for election?
For the last couple of years I have been your regular student, and then I have also volunteered with the SU. Then this year I also started working with them at the SU desk and I think from having all those experiences I have been able to see how things work in terms of how students are well-represented and well-supported but also where we could be doing better. So I think there are areas we can improve the student support and I want to take what I’ve seen and learnt and apply it, and I want to apply this to help the students and being a leader the students need. I want to be there solely for them and for their needs, even if it is just continuing traditions we already have, running fun events to campaign positive health and sexual health. It may just be making these more regular. As well as that giving more attention to students who don’t feel like they’re a part of the campus or feel a little bit ignored.
What is the one thing you want to do as Welfare and Equality Officer over everything else?
Nearly every single student is involved in extra-curricular activities, if they’re in a club or maybe a society committee, or do volunteering whether it is on or off campus. Everyone is doing something outside of their course, but we are not getting the same recognition for it. You could have a student that requires 40 or 50 hours a week and then are still maintaining 25 hours of being in their club or going to matches, or working on a society committee as an events manager and organising events. I want to get these students recognition so when they finish college and go into a job that there is recognition of that work that they’ve done. I want to work with the college to set up and ECT accreditation system to award students for the hours they have contributed, and even though this might take a while, I still think we can start it by adding an added page to their transcript, where it documents the hours the hours they’ve done, giving students support while they’ve done all that work through college and having them recognised for that.
Can you briefly outline the other key points in your manifesto?
One thing that I’d love is to bring to spiking test kits into the union. These would be strips or straws that people can use on a night out, and you pop them in a glass and it changes colour if you have been spiked with them. It ensures the safety of students on a night out. Spiking unfortunately has increased in Galway and even in other parts of Ireland, and these would be free to all students.
I would also like to bring in a Welfare vending machine. From working at the desk, I’ve seen that students don’t like to come up to ask for free things like condoms or Tampax, so I’d put a vending machine either side of campus where students could go to the discrete area, scan their SU card, and still get a free pack.
How will you encourage people to see you as someone they can approach with any problems?
I think the biggest things about these students, especially Welfare and Equality, it is someone students can go to talk and get support. It is a listening and referral service, but sometimes people don’t want to come to you because you are the person upstairs in the office. So my biggest thing, which I hope to show during election week, is visibility. I am the type of person who is always on campus, I practically live there, and I’d like to think if people see me in Smokey’s with a cup of tea that they can come over and stop for a chat, that I am that approachable person. I am that person they can put a face to the name.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I think it is important that the Welfare and Equality Officer is someone students feel has their back. They will be the one to the financial aid committee and fights for you to get your grant, they’re the ones where to go when you find yourself in a crisis situation and get you the help you need. They are the ones you go to when you think everything is falling apart and they can help you put the pieces back together. They can help your get life back in order. You need someone who isn’t biased, someone you can trust, and is approachable, and these should be are the things that people should be considering when they choose their Welfare and Equality Officer. It isn’t always about the fun events, the President can do those, but this is a supportive role and it is important that people feel they can trust that person.