home News Students’ Union Election: Candidate Watch – Equality Officer

Students’ Union Election: Candidate Watch – Equality Officer

UCC’s annual Student Union Elections take place next week, with voting taking place on March 4th, 5th and 6th. This year, as part of the election registration process, candidates were asked to answer five questions for The University Express about their campaign, their manifesto and their plans were they to be elected. Each day, we will be running through the different positions and shining a light on each of the candidates. In this issue, we focus on the two candidates running for Equality Officer: Beth O’Reilly and Kelly Coyle.
Beth O’Reilly

What made you choose to run for this position?

UCC’s diverse campus is one of the reasons I chose to study here, and as a result, the equality of every student is incredibly important to me. I truly believe that no matter what race, sexuality, gender, age, ability or economic background you have, UCC should be a place where everyone can thrive and flourish. Over the course of my years here I’ve noticed areas where the university leaves disadvantaged or minority students with less support, and the role of Equality Officer would give me the platform to fight against the systemic and social discrimination often faced by many different groups of students.

 

If you had to choose one point from your manifesto as your main goal, what would it be?

This year’s SU have done a great job with mental health campaigns, but one of the issues that I brought forward in my manifesto is the state of services for mentally ill students. Currently, the DSS offers support for students with mental illness, however this is only provided once a psychiatrist note is submitted. In UCC, the waiting list for a psychiatrist appointment is almost 12 months long, and public HSE services have similar waiting periods. As a result, students who have been diagnosed with a mental illness by their GP or mental health nurse must wait a twelve month period for a psychiatrist appointment before they can avail of services that should be available to them. From my own personal experience as a mentally ill student, this lack of support led to me having to repeat my year (and that didn’t come cheap). This is the case for countless other students with mental illnesses. I aim to lobby to have interim support in place for students who can provide a GP letter stating that they are suffering from a long term mental illness so that they are no longer waiting for services that they should be entitled to.

 

What do you think sets you apart from the other candidates for your position?

I certainly think the my election would provide a fresh perspective to the SU. My passion for this role doesn’t lie in my passion for student politics or my love for UCC, rather I’m focusing on areas where I feel students are being let down. Having had a challenging college experience myself I am actively campaigning for radical change in areas that I think the Students Union has overlooked. I truly believe in active change, and I would not have run for this position if I didn’t think that I could fully achieve all of the goals in my manifesto.

 

What experience do you have that you feel will help you, if you get the position?

The three years that I’ve spent in the International Relations Society has been imperative in teaching me how to valuably contribute to important discussions – something that would certainly help in chairing the EWG meetings. My time on the committee has given me the experience of organising large scale conferences and events, often with a theme of equality and justice. I also would aim to strongly push for a social media overhaul of the Equality Working Group, as currently it’s receiving very low engagement. Having successfully marketed a Youtube channel for over seven years, I’m confident in my ability to create viral promotional content to raise more awareness about the role of the Equality Officer and the EWG and the amazing work that they do.

 

What do you feel was the SU’s greatest success this year?

Pushing through and approving the new Gender Identity and Expression Policy was definitely an amazing win for all of the University’s trans and GNC students. SHAG week was also an incredible success, holding diverse and entertaining events across the week.

 

Kelly Coyle

What made you choose to run for this position?

 

I choose to run for this position because of my sheer love of campaigning and fighting for the rights of UCC students. I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the last 2 years about the position of Equality Officer and what can be done with the role and I would love to get the opportunity to try and bring it to its full potential.

If you had to choose one point from your manifesto as your main goal, what would it be?

Re-Vitalising the Equality Working Group, without a doubt. There is so much potential with this group if they were given the proper platform and if I could only do one thing next year it would be that. The opportunities that would be there forever if the EWG were widely known by UCC students is phenomenal and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be given this platform.

What do you think sets you apart from the other candidates for your position?

I know the Students’ Union and the role of the Equality Officer like the back of my hand. Having been a sabbatical officer for the last 2 years I have worked with both Equality Officers and both Equality Working Groups and I know how to get things done in UCC, I would bring everything I have learned over the last 2 years to the role of Equality if elected.

What experience do you have that you feel will help you, if you get the position? 

I have been on the Students’ Union as a sabbatical officer for the last 2 years so it’s very easy to say that that’s my experience but looking past that I was heavily involved in societies when I was a student in UCC, I was the PRO and the Campaigns Manager for SÅMH and I co-founded the Harry Potter Society and sat as Vice-Chair and then Chairperson. My involvement in these societies taught me a lot about balancing extra-circular and my studies but it also taught me how to work with a group of people who are also trying to do the same while doing as much as they can for UCC Students. A lot of this will be transferable to running the Equality Working Group and ensuring that everyone involved gets the most out of it.

What do you feel was the SU’s greatest success this year?

The SU this year have had a number of great successes but I think the most prominent and most widely effective was ensuring UCC will be single use plastic free by 2023. This will leave an impact on UCC and the wider environment forever and will hopefully help in reducing the impact of UCC on our planet.