Rafy Hay has read their manifestos so you don’t have to
This position, according the UCLU website, is designed to “ensure a safe and welcoming environment”, and deals with international students. There are five candidates for the position, each with their own ideas, but all pledging to continue the work of current WIO Leah Francis in the area of mental health in what is sure to be a very close competition.
Rebecca Tyrwhitt-Drake is a promising candidate with a few good ideas. She aims to continue mental health support with various schemes and groups, such as forging ties with mental health charity Rethink and raising the budget for counsellors. A striking idea, and one which I fully endorse, is having a puppy room (exactly what it sounds like) for relaxation during stressful periods. Overall a solid candidate, not particularly radical (except for the puppy room), but with some good ideas.
Dominic Meehan affirms his support for any campaign with student interests at heart and lists some worthy causes on his manifesto, including Cut the Rent, Fossil Free, and opposing Theresa May’s policies towards international students. His policies for the exam period include subsidised breakfasts, and lecture theatres as revision spaces, which, while simple, seems a rather innovative idea. He wants greater funding for counselling and concerted integration of IoE students into UCLU. Again, nothing extremely radical, but a candidate with some good ideas.
David Hunter is a postgrad who focuses his manifesto on a few areas: rent and housing, which he says are overpriced and bad quality; bullying and intimidation, which he would bring attention to and work to reduce; living on a small budget, which he would produce a guide about; and international students, who he would help by explaining bureaucracy in another guide. These policies, while not particularly innovative or exciting etiher, are fairly sound.
Emma Zürcher is the only international student on the list. She aims to reduce rents, organise more events, provide lockers for students, improve the experience of disabled students, and improve access to mental health and GP resources. Lockers are a good idea – I’ve found it irritating to have to carry around 7 or 8 weighty books for hours, even when I don’t need them. Another grounded and not overly radical candidate.
Tom Robinson is experienced (he was the 2012-13 Disabled Students’ Officer and 2013-15 LGBT+ Officer) and ambitious – another strong candidate. Notable policies include distance participation for disabled students, more support for BME, disabled, women and LGBT+ students on years abroad, increased funding for Psychological Services and Disability Services, cheaper places at the UCL Day Nursery, training for staff on disability and LGBT+ issues, lower rent in halls, and expansion of wheelchair access in halls. So, a fairly frenetic manifesto, with a number of good policies, and a fair few ones he has no control over, such as taxing the rich. He certainly has strong ideas, but some of his policies strike me as slightly too ambitious and lacking in logistical specifics.
In total, then: a strong list with some standout policies (seriously, can we just all agree on the puppy room?), and some solid candidates, although no one particularly stands out for radical ideas or groundbreaking initiatives. There’s a fair bit of consensus about preventing rent from going up, increasing the budget for mental health services, and making international students’ experiences better, but the rest is there for the taking.
Check out our interviews with the WIO candidates here
A full list of candidates can be found here
Voting is open until Thursday, and you can vote here.