Peter Donnelly, Editor
In the run up to the Student Union Elections, taking place on Monday 1st March 2021, The Gown is featuring candidates who are running for student office in the Queen’s University Student Union Elections, for the next 2021-2022 academic year.
As The Gown Editor, I am pleased to introduce Courtney Girvin, running for the position of VP Postgraduate Officer. Courtney has given an extensive account of her varied experience as a student and has put that centre stage in her 2021 QUB SU campaign.
Hi, I’m Courtney Girvin and I’m hoping that I will be your next VP Postgraduate Officer for the upcoming academic year.
I decided to run for election as I have experienced first-hand how tough and inaccessible postgraduate education can be for a working-class student. Student finance fails to cover the costs of tuition entirely and there is nothing to substantiate living costs and additional costs of university education. This has led to increasing reliance on part-time jobs and external bank loans.
We have created a system in which many students are missing the education they are working to pay for, how is this sustainable?
If elected I want to make achievable changes and deliver for current students, and future postgraduate students, so that no student is deterred from doing further postgraduate education as a result of structural barriers which can be knocked down.
- Priority one is accessible education for all. I will revitalise the Fund Our Postgrads campaign to ensure it is student-led and working across the political spectrum for the common good of all our students, and lobby to ensure Queens cannot charge more than the maximum tuition loan allowance. I will ensure the university re-examines its funding priorities to ensure that there is more funding for vulnerable groupings such as those from low-income backgrounds and with caring responsibilities, rather than the Vice-Chancellor’s house refurbishment.
- Priority two is better mental health provision. Academic and financial pressures were found to be the two largest detrimental impacts on students’ mental health. I will reform exceptional circumstances so that it is compassionate, empathetic, and trusting of students post-COVID, and ensure a student safety net is implemented to support students throughout the remainder of this pandemic.
- I want to foster a sense of community for postgraduates and other liberation-specific groups to tackle issues of loneliness and isolation which have been compounded by the pandemic.
Priority three is to work with student workers and be a strong voice against increasing casualisation of workers across campus. I will reform how zero-hour contracts are used on campus, fight to ensure student workers and PhD candidates are paid monthly rather than semesterly, and work with the UCU union collaboratively to ensure greater protections for student workers.
I’m running on a platform of what I believe to be achievable change. I want to create a better university and postgraduate experience for all students. If you want this, vote Courtney #1 on 1st until 4th March!
The Gown invites all candidates standing for election this year to contact us in order to be given a platform to unveil their campaign objectives and pledges. Given the current public health circumstances, in which we all find ourselves, it is these times that homegrown, student-led societies, such as The Gown, are an invaluable tool for spreading the student voice.
A full list of candidates are available on the Queen’s University Student Union website, here.