By Teddy Coward, Co-Editor-in-Chief
The Student Living Officer is responsible for student’s experiences at the university outside of academia, with a focus on mental health and wellbeing provision, housing and student finances, sustainability and community outreach.
With voting now open in the Bristol SU elections, students have the chance to elect their new full-time officers, including their Student Living Officer. Only one candidate is running for the position this year: Ruth Day, who is the incumbent for the role.
Voting takes places using a ranked-choice system, meaning students can rank all the candidates in order. Voting will be open between 9am Tuesday 9 March and 9pm on Thursday 11 March. Results will be announced by Bristol SU via Instagram Live at 6pm on Friday 12 March. For more information on voting visit this link.
Ruth Day made a name for themselves in pre-pandemic protests against housing and mental wellbeing provision. Since entering student politics as a full-time Bristol SU Officer last year, Ruth has spearheaded the campaign on rent rebates for first year students (helping win back a total of £13 million in the process) and launched a free drug testing kit program at Bristol – a first among UK universities.
In addition, Ruth has worked with other Officers to establish the Covid Impact Fund for students facing financial difficulty, as well as bring about the first University Climate Emergency Day of Action at the end of last month.
As the only candidate running for SU Living Officer this year, Ruth is almost guaranteed to be re-elected and continue where they left off. Their manifesto pledges going forward include:
- Ensuring Tutors are given comprehensive mental health training for students.
- Increasing wellbeing support around assessments.
- Continuing to make a range of services accessible for students from liberation backgrounds and offering a translated medical terms glossary on the University website.
- Creating an Ethical Lettings Charter to identify ‘dodgy’ landlords and establishing a student tenants’ union to stand up against them.
- Increasing hardship funding for Home and International students.
- Having free washing in halls and completing the rent reduction strategy to increase affordable beds.
- Tackling the issues faced by students from liberation backgrounds and student parents.
- Keeping Bristol University committed to carbon neutrality by 2030 and establishing a zero-waste Freshers’ Fair.
- Making greener spaces across campus with more plants in study spaces and having more sustainable, cheaper food options in Source cafes.
With mounting financial pressures for students in the wake of the pandemic, Ruth’s work will be required even more so next year. A recent national survey revealed that between the turn of the year and mid-February alone, UK students had spent almost £1 billion in unused rent, largely as a consequence of the national lockdown. The frustrations of many Bristol students will only have increased since then. Bristol too has long-running issues over its accommodation and many voters will be hoping Ruth has the capacity to address them.
Featured Image: Epigram / Siavash Minoukadeh / Patrick Sullivan
Will you be voting in the Bristol SU elections? Click here for more information on how to do so.