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Surrey Decides 2020 - Support and Activity, and Societies Chair Candidates By Pete Ferguson and Megan d'Ardenne

All candidates were offered the chance to send a statement and photo to The Stag to help share their ideas and policies. Unfortunately not all candidates chose to submit a statement before the deadline but all candidates manifestos can be seen here

VP Support Candidates:

Juliette Howard

Hi Surrey Students! I’m Juliette and I’m running to be your next VP Support. May sound cheesy, but I’ve been interested in this position ever since finding out it existed. Keep reading and you’ll understand why…

A little bit more about me:

Being raised in a Franco-British family and living between France and England has made me meet a range of people and cultures and led me to become passionate about helping others. For that reason, I am studying Sociology with Psychology. In my spare time, I’ve made the most of my drive to be involved and put people at ease by working as a Student Life Mentor, a Student Ambassador, a Study Abroad Peer Adviser and a volunteer in peer-to-peer support services like Nightline. Hopefully, this shows how much support and wellbeing are important to me and how dedicated I am.

In my PTY, I spent a semester working with refugees around integration in an NGO in France. Thanks to this, I know how to interact and work with vulnerable people from a range of backgrounds. This enhanced my experience of giving advice, practical assistance and support. I spent the second semester studying abroad in Sydney, where I became more curious, open-minded and confident. With 70,000 students there, I discovered a different way of responding to student issues. This gave me ideas to improve support at Surrey.

So, what’s my plan?

- I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that halls can be a very lonely experience. You’re surrounded by people, yet it is hard to make meaningful connections. Hence, Hall Reps would be first years living in halls, elected by their hallmates to run social, cultural and sportive events to reduce loneliness in a proactive way. Surrey is a campus-university, yet it can be as alienating as a city-university!

- Being a student is not just a Monday to Friday experience. We need support on the weekend and the holidays. Therefore, I’d like to increase publicity around the Samaritans’ presence and have different types of charities on campus (eg: having an LGBT charity every other Sunday). Campus can also feel like a ghost-town during those times, so I’d like to encourage societies, clubs and students to work with the Zone to have regular events during those times.

- PTY is a key reason students join this university. But many feel disappointed by the lack of support during and upon return. I want to set up an emailing Buddy system linking final year students with current PTY students. I also want a re-entry program for returning students with wellbeing talks, catch-ups with what has been happening and social occasions to meet each other.

- Finally, I want to tackle some important issues affecting students. Positive Minds’ launch has been a success, but I want to further this with another peer support group focused on helping students manage the challenges of eating disorders. I also want to make the Sexual Consent Course compulsory for students to complete on SurreyLearn.

Alex Douglas

Hi everyone! I’m Alex Douglas and I’m running for VP Support in Surrey Decides. I’m a final year MechEng student but have decided that an engineering job is not for me and am instead pursuing a career in teaching. I realised that whilst the teaching profession is generally paid considerably less than engineering, I’d rather have a role where I can make a difference and have a positive impact to those around me. This is the main reason I have decided to run for VP Support; I want to improve the lives of every student at Surrey.

Being a supervisor at Welfare Watch, a Union program aiming to give people a safe space and get home safely during their night out on campus. Through this I’ve gained important leadership experience in a high-pressure environment, whilst being able to provide care and compassion to those in a vulnerable state. Also, being wellbeing and inclusion champion for dodgeball has trained me to be confident in handling mental health/crisis situations. Both skills have been developed over the year and will be an essential asset for any VP Support.

My manifesto priorities three improvements I want to bring to Surrey: student training, outreach, and housing security.

Student training is my primary point as it gives every student the opportunity to make a difference at university. I will offer ‘Look After Your Mate’ training to the entire student population. With mental health being a prominent challenge, and university being an emotionally difficult time for everyone, having this training is more important than ever. Whilst students have many options of support available to them, many students can feel awkward approaching a mental health service. This training empowers students to feel equipped to support friends experiencing mental health issues, meaning support can reach everyone.

In addition to mental health training, I aim to increase the number of first aid trained students on campus, particularly in clubs and societies. Both programs will also serve to improve employability for the trainees, with many modern employers actively looking for these skills.

The outreach point states the need to effectively signpost services available for students. One topic that stuck out to me when talking to students was that although many had heard of the Centre for Wellbeing, the majority had no idea what services it offers or where it is located. This shocked me and prompted me to realise efforts in signposting need to be stepped up to advise students of all available support options.

Finally, with the Guildford housing crisis, housing security needs to be assured for students. Many students with placements, even within the UK, struggle to find housing for final year. I aim to change this by improving services to help returning PTY students find housing, as well as guaranteeing housing for students registered with Disability and Neurodiversity Service.

I would really appreciate your vote this week so that I can help make a difference at Surrey. Please vote Alex [1] for VP Support!

Recine Jaafar

Hello everyone, my name is Recine. I am a final year psychology student and I am running to be your VP Support. I have always been very passionate about working with people with mental health difficulties. Here are some of my many goals: -

For post graduate students I would like you all to feel supported all year round, having a post graduate rep so I can better learn how to support you as I understand the hierarchy within post graduate is completely different from undergraduate. To ensure your mental health is all top priority and being supported well throughout your time at university. I would like to try and find alternatives to support you in terms of managing your mental health and time. 💗

If you’re a male with mental health issues or wellbeing difficulties, I would like to increase awareness outside of Movember to make sure you know constantly that you’re supported. Mental health difficulties do not only last for one month. I want to fight the stigma against Male mental health but also introduce a more approachable method that allows you to still remain anonymous if you’re not comfortable seeking help directly. 🖤

If you’re a student with any form of disability, I want to make the university as approachable and accessible for you! I’m planning on reintroducing fresher fayre time slots specifically for students with disabilities. As someone who struggles with generalised anxiety disorder, I always found freshers fayre very difficult to go through and know that there are many other people who find the situation around them very stressful and would like alleviate it as much as I can while ensuring they are still able to have a chance to see all the societies and sport clubs that are available to them. I would also like to work with VP Voice to try to increase access for students with disabilities to lecturers via panopto. No one chooses to have a disability, no one should feel penalised academically because of it 💜

If you’re a sexual assault survivor, I’d like to work closely with the university to improve and install a more holistic after care service because your wellbeing and recovery should be a priority! I would also like to reach out to sexual assault campaign groups to empower anyone who has ever been affected by any form of sexual violence while fighting the stigma behind it all. 💙

For Muslim students, I’m hoping to work closely with VP community to ensure there are more halal options on campus outside of vegetarian options. If this goes well, I’ll be planning to expand it to increase accessibility to kosher food. 💚

I am aware of my time constraint in the role but I intend to give my 110% to everyone in the university because everyone deserves to feel supported and be empowered especially during their time at university. So, take my word, you will be heard!

Aaron Seabrook

Hi, my name is Aaron Seabrook. I am a 4th year chemical engineering student currently doing my Masters. I have previously been a course rep, president of ChemEng society and a mental health curator during January. In addition to this, in 2016 I started a mental health initiative acting to reduce the stigma attached to mental health. Four years later, with the help of other passionate friends, this initiative has officially become a charity.

So why am I running?

Having anxiety and depression, I have felt the stresses and pressure like many others throughout my time at university. I have been supported, but also not supported during my time. I have seen other students suffering, fall through the cracks in the current support, and I believe my outlook and knowledge will help to reduce these cracks.

How does my manifesto help to resolve these issues?

“Let’s talk mental health experiences” is there to expand on the current “let’s talk mental health.” The more we talk about it, the more the stigma is reduced. During my struggles, I have had times where I felt I could not talk to anyone, but when I managed to talk about my experience, I took control and accepted my mental health as part of me. This point is to encourage students to find at least one person they can talk to, and begin to have that first conversation to talking about their mental health.

“Your Department.” This is about improving the current personal tutor training to enable them to support your well-being better. This includes better signposting and increased knowledge on how extenuating circumstances work. The second aspect of this point is to improve the accessibility of lecture content, in the sense of captured content and slides more appropriate for dyslexic students.

Lastly, I want to ensure there is better “bereavement support” for those who have lost a family member, friend or pet. The need to prove your relation to a family member as only part of the evidence required when applying for extenuating circumstances is simply outrageous. If I am elected to be your VP support, I will be working to remove this requirement.

If you stuck around this long, thank you for reading my article. Please feel free to stop me at any point round campus, sports park and rubix. I will happily talk to any of you if you would like details for my manifesto or about my own mental health experience.

Support Zone Candidates:

Izzy Ross

I’m Izzy one of your current Support Zone members. I am running again as I have loved being part of the zone this year. I am proud of what I have achieved so far (especially as it has been from placement abroad) and would love the opportunity to contribute more to helping support students at Surrey.

If re-elected I plan to continue working with the University to support students. Work I have already done has helped form an action plan for personal tutor training to be revised. I also hope to improve on the implementation of Learning Support Agreements for those students registered with D&N by making sure that recommendations can be carried out, are appropriate for each department and no longer lead to any confusion.

I also want to run a dedicated wellbeing week in October to equip students with skills and knowledge to look after yourself and others at the start of the year. This will include awareness of different services, workshops and relaxation sessions. Lastly I hope to work on the Let’s Talk campaign. It’s a great resource I want to give a big push so it can continue to be successful and effective at educating students and raising awareness of important issues. I hope to do this by working with students who want to share their experiences, the Liberation Committee and different professionals (e.g Disability Advisors) to make a series of educational videos. I also want to run a ‘Reclaim the Night campaign’ to raise awareness of sexual assault.

I would really appreciate your support and vote so I can continue to bring my dedication and enthusiasm to the Support Zone for another year. Please follow my campaign page ‘Izzy Ross for Support Zone’ on Facebook for more details about my manifesto.

Bethany Burns

Hi! I’m Beth and I’m running to be on the support zone. I’m a Psychology student on my placement year, and I’ve spent this year raising awareness about various mental health issues as President of the Psychology Society. My manifesto is based on mental health awareness, combatting loneliness, and raising awareness about disabilities and invisible illnesses. For mental health awareness, I want to advertise existing support systems more broadly, using lectures to do so, to ensure all students are aware of the help available to them. I also would love to introduce mental health mates, whereby people go on walks and talk about their problems, as well as the chatty café scheme on campus, which helps to encourage more honest conversations about mental health. For departmental societies especially, I would like to encourage a buddy system for the departmental societies, to give freshers guidance and social support. In addition to this, I would encourage more social events around Christmas, Chinese New Year, etc, as I think these are some of the times loneliness can be worst, especially for International students. Finally, I would like to do spotlight campaigns on different invisible illnesses and disabilities as I think there’s still a lack of general knowledge about some of the issues facing students in our community.

I’m running for the support zone because university can be so stressful and a time that’s supposed to be ‘the best time of our lives’ can be really difficult for a lot of people. I think the union has introduced some great initiatives this year such as the student minds peer supporters, and I would love to help in developing more of these. If you have any questions about my manifesto, please feel free to message me on snapchat or instagram; my username is bethyburns #bethforsupport.

Martha Ferraresi

Hi everyone! I’m Hache, and I’m running to become a PTO for the Support Zone. I’ve always done my best to support people and make sure everyone feels included and it would be such an honour to be able to continue doing this while having an impact on the university. I want students to look back at their university years and have positive memories, and that’s why I want to make sure everyone gets the right kind of support to make it through these years, which can be quite tough. I want to introduce interactive workshops run by professionals for students to learn how to cope with certain issues such as sexual assault, peer pressure and others. As someone with three chronic illnesses, I also experience the struggles of trying to succeed academically while not being in perfect health, and that’s why I want to improve support services for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. In addition to that, I would like to help other minorities to feel included, which I would do by talking to the different Liberation Reps and encourage everyone to share their personal struggles if they are ready to, in order to raise awareness and increase empathy between students. I’d also like to give students a safe space online to talk to each other about their worries anonymously. Although there already is a similar platform, I would like to have one exclusively for the University of Surrey students, as they may be able to relate more. Winning this election and working with some of my fellow candidates would be an honour and I would make this role my top priority, as I truly do believe that although the USSU has already achieved some amazing things, there is always more we can do.

Ellie Mair

Hi everyone! I’m Ellie and I’m in my second year studying mathematics and statistics. I am also currently the president of AutiSoc (the Autism society). I have decided to run for a position on the support zone committee as I’m passionate about supporting people and the wellbeing of the students at Surrey. If elected, the main objective I would like to achieve is to make sure everyone at this university feels safe, comfortable, and that they have a place here. Everyone deserves to feel like they belong here.

Firstly, I believe that everyone deserves to feel included and supported in whatever subject, society or any other activity they take part in at Surrey. I would like to work closely with staff and society signatories to ensure this happens. Secondly, I believe Surrey can achieve this by employing and training staff in more specialised ways so that if anyone needs help, they can be supported in the best way they can. This includes training staff and society signatories to equip them and encourage them to be able to support other people too. Thirdly, I propose that all dorms (as in every room in student accommodation) should display a clear and concise guide of all the mental health services and other related services that Surrey has to offer. This will make sure that everyone is aware of what services are available and the contact information they need to use it.

I would also like to reduce waiting times in places such as the centre for wellbeing, and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and related issues.

The rest of my manifesto is available online. If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me. Thank you for reading, and when voting opens, vote for me!

Lucy Robinson

Hello, I’m Lucy, and I am a 3rd Mathematics student.

Voting for me to become a Part Time Officer for the Support Zone means you will be supporting the issues that affect a range of students, as well as voting in a team-player. Being a part of the Zone means having the ability to collaborate with a variety of students to make a difference to our lives. My three manifesto points include Accessibility, Inclusion and Conversation.

Awareness for invisible disabilities is on the rise, however unfortunately too many students still do not get the support they need. I want to work with the Disability and Neurodiversity Services to improve accessibility around campus, specifically, increasing the access to this information. ‘Accessibility only when demanded is not true accessibility.’ The AccessAble app needs to be upgraded and improved so it is more user and campus friendly, as well as including key campus locations (at the moment, it does not!)

I want to host regular events for students returning from placement and study abroad, whether it be a year or a semester. Support for students returning to our University is just as important as integrating new students. Many students struggle in their third year, and I believe student wellbeing is just as important as career and future-prospects preparation. I will work in collaboration with the International Engagement Office and EmployabilityCareers Officers to host a variety of informal and social events throughout the year.

The Student’s Union is currently doing great work with Samaritans and Tea, Toast and Talk, and I want to build on these campaigns to create a regular time for students to come and chat, when you iare not in crisis, but still need to get something of your mind, #youcansitwithus.

Vote Lucy Robinson [1] for Support Zone, opens 3rd March.

VP Activity Candidates:

Luke Triccas

Hi, I’m Luke Triccas, I’m a 3rd year Politics and Economics student and I’m running to be your VP Activity next year! You may have not seen my posters around campus, that’s because I’m going poster free for this campaign, but you will see my face as I’m aiming to be around as much as possible to talk to as many people as I can, listening to all your concerns along the way. Over the last two years I have been on various committees of both sports teams and societies and have built up enough knowledge and understanding from the union to be an effective candidate. This has therefore placed me in a unique position, making me as representative of societies as I am of sports teams, so can prioritise both with equal measure. Below are my key ideas and policies.

Firstly, I want all societies to feel equally valued by the union, something I know isn’t the case currently. What I want to do is form a personal relationship with societies and take an interest in their goings on, so that they know they can come to me with a problem. Promotion of events is extremely important as well, and I can to increase promotion of the events that each society puts on. To do this, I will assign meetings to each society and sports club every semester, and have drop in sessions every week so that if a society has an issue, they can raise it with me, and I can work with them to resolve it. This ties into my mantra of ‘No issue is too small’, because in order for societies to be successful for their members, they need to have adequate support from the union to so do.

Secondly, participation, inclusion and diversity are of paramount importance. Getting people into activities at the union is key, and most people want to but don’t know what is best for them. To combat this, I want to add a feature to the union website so that people can find a society that best suits their requirements. Inclusion and diversity are also very important, and to promote this I want to elevate the role of Wellbeing and Inclusion champion, by providing further training and organising bi-monthly meetings for all the champions to convene. Also, I plan on consulting the Liberation Committee to find solutions as well, to build on the good work they have achieved in promoting diversity among minority groups.

Thank you for taking time to read my piece, I hope come Tuesday evening you will vote me as your VP Activity, as I genuinely care about all societies and sports clubs, and making sure that they all flourish and receive the best possible support from the union, as the lifeblood of student enjoyment at this uni. In the meantime, check out my Facebook and Instagram (lukeforvpactivity), and remember, I am always #Lukeingoutforyou !

Mason Stickland

Hello my name is Mason Stickland, I am a 3rd year Theatre and Performance student. I am running for VP Activity in Surrey Decides. Currently 49% of students don’t attend any club or society at this university. I want to increase this percentage as the societies and clubs we have on offer here at this university are incredible and being active can do wonders for students. If elected I would like to find out why some students don’t go to sports, clubs or societies and find out if there’s anything the union could do to help make it easier for students to join. Something I am passionate about is having inclusion within activities. I would like more events to be created to promote the diversity we have at this uni. I would like to make these events happen termly instead of once a year. I will also offer mental health training for all committee members and want to offer them more support. Even though being on a committee can be a great experience it can also be very challenging. Committee members put in a lot of hours so I want to make sure they feel supported and if they aren't they can speak to the union about what myself and the union can put in place to help. I would also like the union to post more about the amazing activities we have on offer. Currently the union uses Surrey Spotlight an Instagram account to promote societies but I think this can be used more effectively and showcase all clubs, societies and Team Surrey there is available. If you would like to check my full manifesto follow my Instagram account @mason4vpactivity. Finally if you think there is something the Union needs to improve on and want to be addressed then message me on instagram. I want to make activity as best as it can be so I need to hear what needs to be improved on. Please remember to vote, this is your chance to be heard and get your opinion across. Even if you don’t vote for me voting is the best way you can get your voice heard. Have a great day and as I said earlier if you have any questions please message me.

Talia Nechelput

I am Talia and I’m running to be your next VP Activity! I am a final year International Politics student as well as the co-chair for Women’s Rugby.

As you’ll see through my manifesto I would like to be the VP Activity most importantly to begin creating more of a community within activity at Surrey. I personally think that community and collaboration are two of the most important aspects of life in general, but especially at University when many of us are starting to lead our own independent lives. I want to encourage as many people as possible to participate in activity, whether that be trialing a session or fully joining a society or club, and make it easier to find information about regular meeting and training times. I think that the Union should be keeping a regularly updated calendar of that information, as well as distributing it to students in a similar format to the Rubix events planner. When looking to those of us already involved in activity, I think we don’t have much of a community outside of our respective societies and clubs. I would like to implement an Instagram page for all activity at Surrey which would be a platform to showcase all groups’ achievements and notable events, so we can all keep up to date with one and other and become a cohesive group.

In the same vein, I would like to implement a monthly committee breakfast (similar to the Post Grad ones) in order to encourage collaboration and knowledge share between all societies and clubs. We all have issues in organizing a group of people, like for example engagement, so it would be great if the committees were given an informal opportunity to get to know others and talk about they struggle with but also what is going well. These breakfasts would also create an opportunity for the Activity Zone to get direct feedback from those committees, as well as well as consistent face-time for checkins.

Finally, I think that the University itself is failing our activity with regard to marketing to prospective students and allowing opportunity for current students. Though there are opportunities to participate at open days, I think that societies and clubs and should be expected to participate. This is important both to make the University look better from a marketing perspective, but also amazing for activities to gain new recruits! With regard to participation from current students, the University needs to stop placing academic barriers to participation. All lectures after 17:00 need to be on Panopto and there should never be assessments on Wednesday afternoons.

If you have any questions at all please feel free to contact me on my Instagram page @TforVPActivity!

Activity Zone Candidates:

Brendan Hassan

Hello everyone, I’m Brendan Hassan and I’m a 2nd Year International Relations student. I’m running for Activity Zone because I believe societies are one of the main factors in having a positive university experience. My time in American football and politics society have given me some of the best memories I have at uni, and I want to ensure everyone at Surrey has the opportunity to benefit from extra-curricular opportunities. I have the experience of being treasurer of American football, and will be president next year, showing my leadership in societies. My manifesto policies are:

A subsidy for expensive membership payments. Several people I have recruited to join American football have commented that the £75 is unaffordable for them. At the very least, this payment should be spread throughout the year. For those who are unable to afford this, the SU or Team Surrey should be able to step in and ensure finances are not a barrier to sports membership.

More guest speakers from industry and sport. For example, I saw on Instagram that the founder of the White Helmets (a civil society organisation in Syria) spoke at Lancaster Uni recently, and I realised we have a lack of similar high-profile speakers at Surrey.

Increase diversity in clubs and societies, especially at the committee level. More diverse societies will bring in a range of opinions and talents not currently represented in our clubs, improving the competitive nature of sports teams. More diverse committees will be more aware of the issues and preferences of minority, disabled, and LGBT+ students.

After talking to people in Rubix, on campus, and on social media, these policies have really resonated with people and I’m excited to continue to spread the word about these policies and how they can improve societies at Surrey.

Societies Chair Candidates:

Ana Maria Tudorache

Hi everyone! My name is Ami, I’m a second-year biomedical engineer and this year in I’m running to be your next Societies Chair! #AimForAmi

As president of MechSoc, this past year I worked closely with the Union and I wish to be one of the friendly faces you’ll see in there next year! I’m proud to say that MechSoc became the 3rdbiggest society/club on campus and we raised ~£1000 for charity.

My manifesto has 3 key points:

Help Them Help You – an ambitious plan of changing committee training (from tips on how to run a society right after handover to mandatory mental health trainingfor sigs) and regular monitoring of societies activity (to help stay on track and give us an insight on how the Union can influence their success).

New Social Media – challenging societies to engage in #ADayInTheLifeOf Instagram Takeovers to showcase their activities and encourage new people to join. As well, in an attempt to have a more accessible events plan, I will use social media (not the USSU website) to publish a general bi-weekly calendar!

Chance to shine – I wish to give societies exciting opportunities to advertise themselves throughout the year, wishing to revive Societies Showcase and gain better attendance from students, while also encouraging event advertising at the end of Society Standings.

I believe that besides my experience of managing MechSoc, being president of the Archery Club (and competition team member) has given me a broad perspective of what getting involved means and I want to try my best to ensure committees have every resource needed to give every student at Surrey at least one society (or club) that changes their life for the better!

If you have any question –let’s talk on Instagram @aim4am or Facebook AimForAmi (Societies Chair)!

Ellen Parry

Hey everyone! I am a first-year politics student here at Surrey, running to be the next Societies Exec Chair in the activity zone. Remember, #IfAnyoneCanEllenCan.

I have hands-on experience of how empowering the Union can be: this year, with the help of the activity zone. I was able to set up the Young Greens society, and it is great to be able to increase political representation on campus. But I'm not just about politics...

Engagement, sustainability and inclusion are what I’m all about.

I would work with the liberation committee to implement an inclusion training programme for signatories, initially delivered through society standing, to ensure that everyone feels comfortable to join a society at any time of the year. Differences should be cherished and embraced, and I will give you the tools to do so.

Secondly, I’d hold drop-in sessions for committee members to help with admin, and update the Union’s calendar system to include all meetings/events. Also, I would maintain the use of SurreySocs Instagram, allowing for more society spotlight opportunities.

Why sustainability? Good question. Sustainability was chosen as the Unions campaign for 19/20, yet limited action has been taken. Campaigning is hard, I get that, but I have a particular ambition for the Union to take a leading role in this, and engage with the University’s department for sustainability. The activity zone should collaborate with the community and voice zones to encourage sustainable behaviour. I would implement a sustainability element to the STARS platform to reward societies for holding eco-friendly events, as well as an additional sustainability award at the end of the academic year.

If you’ve got to the end of this - well done… You can read my full manifesto @ellen4societies on Instagram!

Credits:

Created with an image by Mike Enerio - "untitled image"