SU officer elections: Meet the Equality, Liberation and Access candidates

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Voting for next year's SU officer positions opens tomorrow (Tuesday 13th March). Epigram interviewed the candidates running the various positions. Meet the people you can vote for as Equality, Liberation and Acess Officer!

Meet the candidates:

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Name: Sally Patterson
Position: Equality, Liberation and Access Officer
Course: Politics and Sociology
Year: 3

Why are you the best candidate?
Having been in the system for the past year, I’ve got a pretty good sense of what’s in place at the University at the moment, and what really needs to change. I have been very active within the SU since my first year; I was on the JCR in Hiatt Baker, and I’ve been president of a number of societies. There are so many things that are incredible about the SU and the University as a whole, but there are some serious problems as well.

My main concern is the safety and physical and mental wellbeing of students, and I think that the SU could have a much bigger role in supporting these things. I believe I am the best candidate because I will make sure things get done. I won’t just talk about these issues. I won’t just write articles. I won’t just be at the right place at the right time. I will actively follow through in everything that I promise. I will be an approachable, recognisable and friendly face.

What students need isn’t up to us, it’s up to them, so lets start listening. I will be out on campus, talking to students, talking to the university, and will spend 100% of my time making Bristol University a better place for all students.

What one thing do you want to see changed throughout university?
I want people to stop using sexual violence on campus as a political football. I will make practical and achievable changes such as implementing bystander intervention workshops for all freshers (which I am already working on); encouraging popular student night clubs to sign up to Bristol Zero Tolerance; and ensuring that all student-facing roles know what to look out for, and how to deal with reports of sexual harassment or assault.

As for every issue, one size doesn’t fit all. We have to ensure that the steps we take are suitable, culturally competent, and work for students of minority groups, such as BME and LGBT+ students.

What have you enjoyed most about Bristol?
I have loved being president of UBTV this year. It has allowed me to meet students from all over the University, and cover a range of events such as the lecturer strikes, and use of study drugs in Bristol. There’s always so much going on on campus, and getting out there, and being part of it has been amazing at taking me out of my comfort zone.

What’s your favourite Bristol night out?
Personally, I don’t tend to go out that much, being in third year. However, I personally love Basement 45 — they put on sick student nights, and are great at collaborating with societies, and most importantly, they’ve got a Zero Tolerance pledge, meaning that my friends and I can have a fun night and not have to worry about being unsafe.

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Name: Maheera Zubair
Position: Equality, Liberation & Access Officer
Course: Accounting and Finance
Year: 3

Why are you the best candidate?
I identify as female, I’m a person of colour and I’m Muslim. I’m a triple minority and that means I can identify and tackle the problems minorities face.

What one thing do you want to see changed throughout university?
I want to initiate an outreach programme for disabled students, I’d really like to tackle that and increase access for them.

What have you enjoyed most about Bristol?
The Uni is just great, the city is beautiful and full of such lovely and welcoming people.

What’s your favourite Bristol night out?
Kaspa’s on Park Street. It’s not a club I just love getting food there. The best thing is definitely the Brownie Waffle with cream!

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Name: Spencer Blackwell
Position: Equality, Liberation and Access Officer
Course: Music
Year: 3

Why are you the best candidate?
Over the last two years, I have taken up several part-time roles to improve student access. In my 2nd year I was the first trans officer at the SU. This year I’m president of the LGBT+ society which means I listen and understand the community. I want to make changes that people need to see, staff need to be more educated on trans issues as too many students have had negative experiences whilst at Uni. I will make sure the community is listened to, heard and understood. It’s about actions and not just vague ideas, I have a lot of passion and energy!

What one thing do you want to see changed throughout university?
My main point is to do with student wellbeing in halls, there is such a shocking number of students who struggle at Uni. There needs to be better wellbeing outreach in halls. I hope to deliver diversity and welfare training to academic and pastoral staff. Even Personal Tutors don’t always provide good enough support or understanding. Better understanding of liberation groups will definitely improve student welfare.

What have you enjoyed most about Bristol?
I’m a massive Bristol fan. I’ve been able to do a lot of community activities here. I ran Trans Pride in the South West and also Trans day of remembrance. I really enjoy being part of the city and such a vibrant community. I think there’s scope to go beyond the union with campaign projects like Freedom of Mind, I’d love us to be involved with that.

What’s your favourite Bristol night out?
Queen Shilling. It’s a gay bar and the nicest guys ever own it. They have themed nights and I’ve watched Eurovision there. It’s really fun!

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Name: Adeline Nicholas
Position: Equality, Liberation and Access Officer
Course: Physics
Year: 4

Why are you the best candidate?
I have quite a lot of relevant experience. In physics they’re been pioneering a new course rep role called ‘equality diversity and inclusion’, and I’ve done that this year. I’ve also been the equality and welfare rep for the physics society (which I think is the biggest departmental society). So I’ve being doing a lot of lobbying and making suggestions and talking to members of staff, and I’ve really enjoyed it, and I feel like I’ve made some lasting changes within the physics department. I’d love the opportunity to do that on a University-wide scale.

What one thing do you want to see changed throughout university?
The University’s attitude towards supporting people. They are aware that there’s a mental health crisis, but I feel like they’re not very prepared to deal with it. It’s a very limited amount of support that they’ll provide. It’s only if you fill a very specific box. If your problems are anything other than this very limited set of things then you’re just sort of on your own.

So, they have no counsellors trained to deal with people who have experienced sexual assault or any other trauma, and that’s such a common experience for students. The Revolt Sexual Assault campaign said that 62% of students had experienced some sort of sexual violence at university, and if the University can’t provide support after that kind of experience then that’s definitely a big shortcoming.

What have you enjoyed most about Bristol?
I come from a small town in the Cotswolds so, in comparison, Bristol has so much going on and so much choice. Just experiencing all the culture; there are all these societies and so much going on. Bristol itself is an amazing city. This year especially I have tried to go to more art exhibitions and have experienced that side of things. Things like the International Women’s Parade and the Pride Parade; they don’t happen where I’m from.

What's your favourite Bristol night out?
I haven’t been out much recently — fourth year is a tough one! I do like Thekla – its on a boat and I like the novelty of that.

The election night results will be celebrated on Friday at 6.30pm in the Balloon Bar.

Feature image credit: Bristol SU.org


Who do you plan to vote for in the election?
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AUTHOR

Jecca Powell

Online News Editor / Second year English student

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