On Monday evening The Spark attended the Full-Time Officer Question Time event hosted by RUSU in Monterey Lounge.
The event which ran from 6pm until 9pm- saw the candidates for each of the five Full-Time Officer roles give a one minute speech about their manifestos as well as answering questions submitted by students and staff.
Running for the role of welfare 2020/21 are: Charlie Child, Tom Hough, Nell Worthy, Josh Forman and Bandy Karki.
The candidates- who spoke to audience members about the ideas they intend to bring to the role- covered topics including drug use, mental health and sexual health.
Speaking first, Charlie Child spoke about her proposal for better mental health and well being services and support at University, to raise awareness of safety events and expressed her aims to improve student housing by working with the University and estate agents.
Whereas, Tom Hough emphasised better lake safety, safer drug use and more efficient mental health services across the University.
On Nell Worthy’s agenda were goals such as introducing a welfare app and increasing drug awareness across the university.
In contrast, Josh Forman’s goals were to create a more accessible Students’ Union, improve lake safety and bring in better mental health resources.
Meanwhile, Bandy Karki proposed for a welfare hotline for those in need during a crisis, better sexual safety on campus by training bar staff and bouncers on how to detect sexual harassment, and creating a student housing forum for housing issues and advice.
Following their one minute speeches, candidates were asked a series of questions, asked in series of threes.
The questions were as followed:
- Why is it important for the welfare officer to promote safe sex and what would you do to spread this image
- Biggest welfare issue facing RU students at the moment
- how would you work to improve the sense of community in halls?
- How would you support male mental health?
- How would you help international students with homesickness and loneliness?
- How will you make sure the drug safety campaign doesn’t promote drug use?
- What is your motivation for wanting to be welfare officer?
- What support would you give students that are parents or carer’s?
- Should university hall residences be fined for drug possession?
Responding confidently to Question 1, Nell Worthy spoke about her plans to bring back SHAG (sexual health awareness) week and Testing Tuesdays to help promote better sexual health. Meanwhile Charlie Child highlighted her ideas for safer use of drugs in response to Question 2.
Question 3 was answered confidently by all candidates who all felt the need to establish better communication and relationships between RUSU and the JCR’s in order to improve a sense of community in halls. Josh Forman also believed that we should promote more events within halls, particularly cultural events.
Question 7 allowed for a more personal response, asking the candidates where their motivation for wanting to run for welfare came from. Charlie Child responded saying it was to because she wanted to “help support students”, similarly Nell Worthy said it was because she has a “passion for helping people”.
Finally, Question 9- which focused on drug possession- sparked a similar response from candidates who generally upheld the argument that students should not be fined for first-time drug possession. Namely, Bandy Karki highlighted that support should be given to these students rather than punishing them, with Tom Hough adding that fines are an “outdated response”.
Following Question Time, all candidates for next year’s Full-Time Officer roles will campaign both online and on campus until Friday, February 28th at 3pm, with voting open from Tuesday, February 25th at 7am until Friday, February 28th at 3pm. Throughout the voting period all University of Reading students can vote for their favourite candidates for each role at www.rusu.co.uk/representation/elections/rusu-main-elections/, with the results announced at the Results Party on Friday, February 28th from 7pm until 9pm which all students are invited to attend.
This week’s elections schedule also includes campaigning, quiz times and all-important voting for next year’s Part-Time Officers, School Reps and Student trustees. You also can cast your votes for these roles at rusu.co.uk.
Welfare manifesto breakdown:
- Mental health and wellbeing support – raise awareness of the services that all students can access whenever they need it.
- Safety – raise awareness of bus service for students and organise safety events to promote wellbeing.
- Housing – work with the university and local councils, estate agents and landlords to ensure fairer rent for students and a forum for students to share their experiences.
- Getting home safe – Safety board in RUSU and implementation of lake safety measures by the University
- Drug recognition and education – Drug education and information, home testing kits, and amnesty bins
- Mental health services – Faster university mental health services and increased communication between RUSU and Welfare Reps
- Drug Awareness: More awareness surrounding responsible drug taking and where to find support if you need it.
- Welfare in halls: Improve the welfare support in both on and off campus halls.
- Welfare App: An app containing all things welfare in Reading.
- The ECF system needs reform – I’ll make it easier, kinder and better suited to help you
- Our mental health support is struggling – I’ll give them the resources needed to support you
- RUSU lacks accessibility – I’ll provide more information on what’s happening, and more access to your campus
- Welfare Hotline: Allow you to have access to your welfare team in halls for an immediate support system when in a crisis.
- Student Housing Issues: Holding a housing forum about housing issues with a housing advice officer.
- Sexual Safety: Bar Staff and Bouncers to be trained in detecting sexual harassment.