1) Jess, tell us why you think you are the strongest candidate to lead QUBSU as VP Welfare next year?
After being in the role for a year I’ve gain a lot f expertise in the area. I’ve build relationships inside the university and beyond that have linked other organisations together, provided our students with a devise range of support and created more engaging and interactive campaigns. This year more than ever there needs to be someone in the role who has the confidence and knowledge to fight against inequalities and to speak for students and their rights. This year has proved that I know what students want, I know how to engage them and I know how to get things done. Next year is going to be a big year implementing the TBQ mandate and following through with rebuild negotiations and plans. I have been there every step of the way and feel that next year there needs to be a presence that won’t be ignored. A strong voice that won’t back down. I am that candidate.
2) What experiences have you built at Queen’s University, in an outside of the Union, which you believe will help you in this role?
Experiences? Relationships? I’ve linked with loads of different people and services at different levels within the university who know me by name and have linked in with campaigns and projects I’ve worked on. I’ve also linked with organisations like the rainbow project, project life, nexus, carecall (now inspire), the FPA and many more that like I said before have enriched campaigns and made them more engaging. These links provide the expertise in certain areas and a good link with these organisations will help to provide students with the informed messages that they bring.
3) What key platforms do you stand on for your campaign for this role?
My main manifesto points revolve around sexual misconduct and consent, mental health and the development of the union. I have been and will continue to lobby for a position within wellbeing services that is specifically trained in sexual assault, harassment and rape. They will be a go to person within the university that has the knowledge to advice both student and staff, to provide training and education opportunities for students and staff, review policies and run campaigns around the topic of consent. When it comes to the development of the union I will work extremely closely with the president and rest of the team to insure we continue to fight for an autonomous union. To strengthen our democratic structures and communicate to students what the union and the council are doing throughout their time here. The rebuild is also a massive part of this and having successfully negotiated a rebuild as part of the current team, there must be a knowledgeable voice going forward to ensure that the needs of students are listened to and when it comes to moving out of the union that the decant has everything that students need.
4) What do you pledge to do to ensure an ongoing movement against tuition fees, casualisation of staff contracts and course closures?
Going forward I will be heavily involved in the all party group for students when this is back up and running (and if it is) if not I will ensure there is a platform Students issues can be heard in the executive. I will make sure that the historic mandate from take back queens is not ignored and negotiations are regular within the university to make sure these issues are heard and resolved. I’m also never opposed to a bit of direct action if needs be! This is something that is high on the agenda now as a sabbatical officer and will continue to be going into the new team.
5) Student apathy is as present as ever. What will you do to tackle it?
This year everything I have done to engage students in campaigns has been really quiet effective. This is down to offering students different kinds of events during the campaigns. Going forward a rebrand of Are Ye Well will be something I will implement to create a new way of creating and starting conversations around mental health. I will also want More communication with students on what officers and council are doing on a regular basis whether this be through social media or on the ground it is something the whole team will have to talk about and tackle.
6) What are the main challenges facing an officer in this position?
In the position of Welfare specifically it is letting students know that I am there and what I’m there for. Students can feel uncomfortable coming to me ,or any other sabbatical officer actually, about an issue they are dealing with. Getting the message out to students to let them know that confidentiality is key within the role and that anything they say will never be repeated. I am here for the students primarily to be a source of support and to provide a listening ear.