Ahead of the 2020 Guild Elections, Redbrick News Reporters interviewed candidates running for Liberation Officer Positions. This includes Women’s Officer, Trans Students’ Officer, LGBT Officer, Disabled Students’ Officer and Ethnic Minority Officer
Candidates: Women’s Officer
Interviewed by Ella Kipling
The Women’s Officer ensures that everyone on campus is aware of women’s issues and the fight for equality. The Women’s Officer is also co-chair of the Women’s Association. Candidates for Women’s Officer are expected to self-define as a woman or non-binary.
The candidates are listed alphabetically by surname.
Mary Connolly is a Law student who, if elected Women’s Officer, will introduce ‘Mary’s Monthly Monologues’ and ‘Mother Mary Mondays.’ These monologues would be about different feminist issues every week which people may not have heard of, as Connolly feels there is ‘a large perception that feminists have equal rights, and that is very much not the case.’
‘Mother Mary Mondays’ would be a drop in for students to ask any questions about feminism or if they need advice about things such as how to report a sexual assault. Period poverty is an issue Connolly feels isn’t ‘talked about enough.’ She would set up period boxes in bathrooms for students to take what they need. ‘All men are welcome’ to any of the talks she would run if elected ‘to see how they could be involved,’ and Connolly wants to create an open environment to talk about things like consent.
Connolly told Redbrick that the University isn’t doing enough to take on sexual assault complaints, or even provide enough private spaces for things such as mental health be discussed, which is something she would like to take on. Essentially, Connolly wants to empower women ‘to know what is okay, and what isn’t.’
Shuhan Liu is a BSc Accounting and Finance student running for women’s officer, who told Redbrick that she would use the role to ‘promote women’s equality.’ Liu would like to invite outstanding women in different fields (such as STEM) to ‘share their experience’ and discuss discrimination or unequal treatment in their career, as well as holding campaigns and talks to raise awareness of women’s potential in different areas.
Sexual harassment is a big issue Lui would tackle if elected, and she feels that security at the University should be improved as well as working to increase men’s consciousness of the issue. Partnering other societies and organisations with similar aims is important to Lui, and is the most effective way to achieve her aims as Women’s Officer.
Alice Morley is a third-year student. Morley feels there has not been enough done to challenge the taboo of harassment and intimidation around the University and would create campaigns around that, ‘always starting from a position of belief and support.’ She would also include flyers about that in welcome packs, saying freshers often do not know where to go.
Another thing Morley would like to implement is working with the Welfare and Community Officer on ‘the effectiveness of reporting procedures,’ and would partner with the Guild of Students’ Not On team, lobbying for more funding so that they could reach every student group. Improved mental health support is another key area Morley would focus on if she were to be elected as Women’s Officer, a role she says she is perfect for as she would ‘lobby the University hard’ for the women and non-binary students at UoB.
The importance of creating an approachable space where women feel comfortable to talk about the issues they’re facing is something Morley is more than aware of, as she would like to implement a space with lecturers and professors who also want to tackle these issues, where women could come monthly, or bi-monthly, in order to keep the role relevant and to keep supporting the ever-evolving issues women face.
Candidates: Trans Officer
Interviewed by Cerys Gardner
The Trans & Non-Binary Students’ Officer will campaign on matters of importance or concern to trans students. They will take an active role in promoting initiatives to ensure the welfare and interests of the trans and non-binary student population are protected. They will also attend Guild Committees and Associations relevant to trans & non-binary students, such as the Student Equality and Diversity Committee. Candidates for this role are expected to self-define as trans or non-binary.
You can vote on the Guild of Students website.
Em Andress (he/him) and Alex Heighton (they/them)
Em Andress and Alex Heighton are co-running for the role of Trans Students’ Officer. Andress is the current Trans Students’ Officer and a second-year History student. Heighton is on the Guild Policy Development Group as the trans reserved place and studies Maths and Computer Science.
One of their key policies is to work with Guild security to reduce the number of transphobic incidents that happen on club nights held at the Guild. Andress explained that ‘there have been serious issues where security isn’t trained to deal with trans people so there have been incidents of trans people getting kicked out of toilets, being told they can’t use toilets, which is obviously awful.’
They also want to actively seek out opinions from and promote the interests of trans people of colour. Heighton said ‘queer and trans people of colour, in general, tend to often get forgotten from these discussions so putting that as one of our priorities to make sure we even the playing field a little bit.’ They added that ‘there’s only so much that, as two white people, we can do in terms of what trans people of colour are looking for and the troubles they face, so it’s gathering information and then using that.’ Andress said: ‘we want to make sure that they are heard, and then we want to prove that they are being taken to higher places – Guild staff, the University’s senior management – and we want to make sure that things are being done to make these people’s lives better.’
Additionally, they want to campaign for more gender-neutral toilets at the Guild and the University. This builds on the work that Andress has been doing as Trans Students’ Officer this year, he said that ‘I’ve had a promise, as Trans Officer currently, to get gender-neutral bathrooms on this floor of the Guild, the first floor, by the end of the year.’ In particular, they want to make sure that the gender-neutral toilets are accessible because the current gender-neutral toilets in the Guild are on an area of the top floor that is not accessible by wheelchair.
Finally, they want to introduce free pronoun badges in Guild reception for anyone to take and wear. Heighton said that ‘the idea would be that it makes misgendering less of an issue in the Guild, so it starts to make people a bit more comfortable.’
Candidates: LGBT Officer
Interviewed by David Atkins
When asked by Redbrick about making removing LGBT discrimination from campus, Sorcha Hughes answered that improving community relationships across campus is key.
‘There should always be a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination of anyone based on their identity. I will uphold this, and ensure that students know they can contact me about anything they experience.
‘The total reduction of discrimination will always be my aim, and I hope to work towards this by educating people about LGBTQ issues and how important for instance, language can be in cultivating a campus where LGBTQ students never have to feel discriminated against.’
Hughes outlined that they believe that maintaining a good relationship with LGBT Association would be beneficial.
‘I want to continue this by expanding the events that the society holds and cultivate equality through providing new opportunities for LGBTQ students. For example, I wish to develop the rainbow laces event that currently highlights an LGBTQ voice in sports, by providing LGBTQ-specific sports tasters. My aim in this is to provide LGBTQ students with the support they need to feel that they have total equality of opportunity to access any and all parts of university life. ‘
Hughes also outlined that they would like additional LGBTQ mentoring and support for students struggling with their identity and sexuality, as they believe that the fight for the expansion of the University’s mental health provisions will undoubtedly be continued this year by the new officer team, and she wants to be part of that.
‘As LGBTQ officer, and an LGBTQ person who has had experience with accessing mental health services at the University, my priority will be to ensure that there is an awareness of the specific issues that LGBTQ students face.
‘Questioning and understanding aspects of identity is something which a lot of students will likely experience at some point, and the LGBTQ association has held events for questioning people, which will continue to be expanded.’
Candidates: Disabled Students Officer
Interviews by Cerys Gardner
The Disabled Students’ Officer gives disabled students a voice in the Guild of Students. They campaign against barriers to participation that can hinder students’ experiences during their time at University and encourage all students to take a positive attitude towards understanding the nature of disability and overcoming prejudices.
Each candidate is listed alphabetically by surname.
You can vote on the Guild of Students website.
Imogen Mann is a first-year student studying Pre-Clinical Medicine. She is working with the current Disabled Students’ Officer on a campaign around hidden disabilities, that she would continue if elected, and has done lots of fundraising prior to university for charities that help disabled people such as Mind and a CMT (Charcot-Marie-Tooth) charity.
One of her main policies is to make the disabled network more LGBTQ+ inclusive. She would do this by creating a group specifically for LGBTQ+ disabled students, she pointed out that there is currently a group for LGBTQ+ people who do STEM subjects but not one for disabled LGBTQ+ people.
She also wants to include subtitles on Panoptos and to make sure as many lectures as possible are recorded. Mann said this was because ‘it’s a new accessibility requirement for a public sector body to make things inclusive’ and that it ‘is a really big priority because it’s really personal for me.’
Furthermore, one of her goals is to make sport on campus more inclusive for disabled people. Mann explained: ‘I was really keen when I came to university to get involved in sport and I find it really difficult as a disabled person to find, let alone partake, in any disabled sport. There are 56 sports on the university’s website, none of which are specifically dedicated to disabled people. So, it’s obviously a priority for me to make things more accessible.’ One of the ways she would do this is by making the fitness festival that is being launched for disabled students a regular event.
She also talked about her experience of accessing the University’s support system for disabled students. She said that ‘from my experience, the university is really supportive once you’ve told them and if you get a RAP (Reasonable Adjustment Plan) form what’s on it is delivered, but I think it’s often unclear when you first start university that that’s in place and the actual extent.
‘In my semester and a half, I’ve adjusted it three times already. So I think making that more clear going forward, make it really obvious for students what they can and can’t get from the University and then they can get the optimum amount out of it.’
Overall, she said that she wants to ‘make university life more inclusive for disabled students as a whole’ and ‘I want to be able to know that people coming and people already here actually don’t have to go through what I went through, and I want to make the university more accessible so that people want to come here.’
Tomos did not have an interview with Redbrick, but their full manifesto can be found on the Guild of Students website.
Candidates: Ethnic Minorities Officer
The Ethnic Minority Students’ Officer represents all ethnic minority students at the Guild. They work with BEMA, the Black and Ethnic Minority Association to energise ethnic minority students and get them involved in the Guild of Students. Candidates for Ethnic Minority Students’ Officer are expected to self-define as an ethnic minority full member.
The candidates are listed alphabetically by surname.
You can vote online on the Guild of Students website.
Tamia is a first-year student studying English Language. She was prompted to run for Ethnic Minorities Officer after attending a Black Voices event at the University. It was here that she realised that many BAME students do not feel that the Guild represents them.
Inclusion is at the core of Tamia’s manifesto. She wants to promote inclusion within the Guild by creating groups and events that every student feels comfortable attending. In addition to this, she would introduce a student mentor scheme for BAME students as she believes that current student mentoring options at the University do not represent minorities.
She thinks that the University does not properly support students that come from diverse areas with the transition to a university community that is less diverse. This can make these students feel isolated according to Tamia and therefore she believes that the Ethnic Minorities Officer needs to represent the people that are not currently being heard
Tamia says she hopes the initiatives she would introduce through the Guild will be put into place. By researching previous Guild Elections, she thinks that former Ethnic Minority Officers have had similar policies but the results are not seen on campus.
Umar believes that the key role of the Ethnic Minorities Officer is to bring together students from all backgrounds and cultures. Speaking to Redbrick, he emphasised the need to encourage every student at the University to participate by building trust with the BAME community.
The central policy on his manifesto is a ‘clubs mash-up’ where societies would collaborate to celebrate their differences. He said ‘I would also promote different religious festivals’ to allow students from different backgrounds to learn about each other.
Umar wants to make it easier to report antisemitism, Islamophobia and racism as a voice for all students at the University. He thinks this is the way to build trust amongst students in the University and in turn get more BAME students involved in campus events.
He has seen the struggles faced by BAME students first hand through his experience in global buddies and working with the student mentor team. Umar believes this makes him well equipped to deal with the challenges of being the Ethnic Minorities Officer.
Israel Kiggundu Tamale
Israel is in his first year studying Law with French Law at the University. He believes that the role of Ethnic Minorities Officer is important to act as a bridge between BAME students and the rest of the student community. He thinks the post is needed as a means to stand up for ethnic minority students.
Israel’s past experiences working in leadership mean he believes he is well placed to represent a large group of people. He was prompted to apply by seeing ethnic minorities not being given equal opportunities. Israel wants to end stereotyping behaviours towards minority students through education. He says his main focus in the role would be bringing inclusivity to the university to allow all students and staff to feel comfortable on campus.
The core of Israel’s campaign is the idea of an Ethnic Minority Focus Week. This would allow students to celebrate by sharing their culture with their peers as well as voice concerns they have about the University. Another of his initiatives is giving BAME students the opportunity to attend events such as the NUS liberation conference to discuss issues affecting students from other universities across the country.
You can view the full-time officer candidate interviews HERE.