Hello, my name is Emily, and I am running to be your Liberation and Access Officer. Studying for a degree is already tough enough, and so it is the responsibility of the University to remove any barriers which make studying and university life even tougher and to ensure that no matter your background you have equal access to higher education. If elected, I would implement changes which would improve the wellbeing of students from under-represented groups, ensure the curriculum is inclusive and accessible, and amplify the voices of under-represented students.
My experience as President of my hall’s JCR has given me a lot of insight into how effective change can be implemented in the University and has shown me existing problems, especially the need for more student engagement with University policymakers. I hope that through making these proposed changes, the University will be one step closer to providing the best university experience possible for all students.
Develop research into the issues that under-represented groups face and publish wellbeing policies based on this. All minority groups have different experiences, and so different measures need to be taken in order to ensure an equitable university experience for all. In addition to the recently introduced Black Students Wellbeing Policy, it is important to push for similar policies for other minority ethnic groups and for other under-represented groups.
Lobby to implement accommodation price caps for disabled students. Disabled students are often forced to stay in the most expensive accommodation due to these having more accessible rooms. This is not fair, and the University should follow other universities in capping accommodation prices for these students.
Pressure the University to oppose Prevent. The University must boycott Prevent as far as legally possible due to it being racist and a threat to civil liberties.
Support the campaign for free sanitary products around campus and ensure that it is inclusive of transgender and non-binary students.
Continue the campaign to decolonise the curriculum. Build on existing networks to support, co-ordinate and connect anti-racist organising efforts and ensure that momentum around the campaign is not lost.
Lobby to make online resources and university social media more accessible. For example, ensuring that there are always plain text alternatives to images, and closed captioning and transcripts for videos.
Advocate for the introduction of an Open Day Travel Bursary. The high price of travel can leave some prospective students unable to attend open days and so a bursary given based on financial criteria would increase access to the university.
Encourage the University to support students struggling with the ‘hidden costs’ of university. Money should be set aside to pay for things such as books and field trips to ensure that all students have equal opportunities.
Amplifying students voices
Connect students with University policymakers through focus groups, liberation groups and working with relevant societies.
Introduce suggestion boxes around campus and online, and hold regular drop-in sessions for students to raise and discuss issues. It is important that students know that the Students’ Union is a good place to go if they have any issues or concerns, and I feel that this has not been communicated well enough in the past.