Candidate Questions: Welfare Officer

Nouse speaks to the candidates running for the position of YUSU Welfare Officer:

What are the strengths and weaknesses of your predecessor?

Bob Hughes: Strengths were new campaigns like the clubbers bus, and UY’ come dine with me’
Weaknesses were not using the summer effectively for long term planning.

Hannah Wigley: The strengths are that there were quite a lot for campaigns and they were more proactive in getting out there but I do think that could be worked on even more and expanded on further.

Lewis Haines: Bob’s great, lovely and friendly, great at job. Union has weak campaigns because they aren’t publicized well enough.

Nationally student depression and suicide is on the rise, what would you do to address this at York?

BH: We are already running a series of events on emotional wellbeing and these can be extended further and I am in process of working with the University on the student mental health policy which I hope to use with groups like Nightline. We also need to work with the University to make sure the new member of Open Door is brought in and used to supplement the service, make it bigger and make it more approachable to students.

HW: I am looking in to bringing services like the advice and support centre and the open doors team in line with nightline which should hopefully promote them all.

LH: Mental health awareness is a good system but we need a better system of getting the information out to students. Regardless of how much good information we have, if it’s not given to the student it doesn’t matter. I think we need to get the information out better. Students don’t understand depression and we need to get the message out to seek help before it becomes a problem.

Do you think Langwith moving to the Heslington East campus will enhance the whole community or divide campus?

BH: It’s a really awkward one. It would be nice for Goodricke to have another college to get a sense of community and rivalry which they have been long missing. I think it would be detrimental for Derwent because they are inheriting more old accommodation. We need to be careful that the rooms are kept renovated and up to date. There is also the danger of splitting campus because it gives students at Hes East less reason to go to Hes West. We need to encourage societies to hold events on both campuses to help integration.

HW: I think if dealt with right it can enhance it. If it’s just left like Goodricke seems to have been then it might make it worse again but I think having two up there it will force people to get up there and do more for them both rather than seeing it as a one college thing.

LH: Langwith was a really small college with a small system and it will lose this moving to Hes East but with Goodricke over there it will change the way things are done. I think we will get a more stable system where people don’t think of some colleges as isolates but as spread around. I’d like to think we won’t have so much of ‘that college is over there’ because all colleges are in different positions.

What underdeveloped areas of welfare do you want to develop over the next year?

BH: Mental health is still not perceived very clearly. We see it as depression and not day-to-day emotional well-being, so we need to focus on that. We need to focus on the health centre too. We have some findings from two years ago and will get more research released next term. We need to make sure students get what they deserve because there are a lot of issues at the moment and students don’t feel like they’re getting the service they deserve.

HW: I’d like to improve focus on safety for all. So focusing on when people are going out and getting drunk and getting home safely and knowing they’re not getting their drink spiked. We need campaigns like that and in line with alcohol awareness week and more general campaigns that reach more students.

LH: Campaigning needs to be worked on. Until we get our information across, we won’t make a change. I want to re-support the part time officers, the liberation network chairs- who play a key role in representing their demographics effectively- because when they don’t represent well enough we have minorities excluded.

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