After the buzz of the recent RUSU elections, 4th year psychology student Rachel Wates was announced as the new Diversity Officer for the 2020/21 year.
Our Sub Editor Sabita caught up with her to find out more.
How does it feel to have won?
“Damn good! I’m really happy that I’ve won and that everyone voted for me.”
How has your experience of campaigning been? Have you had any challenges?
“It’s been the best slash worst week of my life. I got up every day at 8 o’clock, I did my makeup, did my hair, had a shower, and then we all had a campus breakfast meeting at 9:30. Then, I worked my way from lecture shoutouts and talking to people to campaigning in Park Bar. I gave myself until 4 o’clock and two hours for dinner. At six I’d start again with my society shoutouts, and then in the evening I’d go out. It was challenging in the sense that it was tiring – I’d never done anything like that before!”
What’s been the most memorable part of last week for you?
“The RAG auction. I may have auctioned myself off for neck, head and shoulder massage, and I may have had two other potential candidates fight over me! One eventually paid £42 for the charities Mind and New Beginnings.”
What are you most looking forward to about your role?
“I’m actually really excited to get started on my manifesto points. I really want to actually make Asian History Month happen and would love to encourage more integration between home and international students, but I’m also excited to meet and work with the Part Time Officers. Bandy [the new Welfare Officer] and I have been friends for two years now, as we both study Psychology.”
Your manifesto mentions making a partnership scheme for international students to meet with UK students. How are you planning to get started on that?
“It could be anything! I could make a Facebook page, or perhaps an app, or an online forum. I read in a survey of international students at the University that the hardest issue for international students to face was integration into British culture. It’s good to get out of your cliques – obviously everyone wants to be friends with people who make them feel comfortable and remind them of home, but also it wouldn’t kill anyone to branch out.”
You also said that you would like to improve access to Study Abroad. What kind of extra access are you planning for?
“I think for a lot of people, they come to Reading specifically to do Study Abroad – they want to go to the Malaysia campus, for example. However, when they get there they realise it’s actually very expensive, they’ve already signed into housing contracts, or none of their friends are going abroad. I want to make so that if people are accepted into a programme, they would all meet up at somewhere like Park Bar and get to know each other.
“I believe that students should either have to sign up early so that their housing contracts don’t get in the way, or get told that halls are still an option – just the little things that people don’t really understand and that can make a really big difference as to whether they take up Study Abroad.”