Candidate for the position of Vice President Welfare & Equal Opportunities

Roisin McCallion

Róisín McCallion for Welfare and Equal Opportunities!                               

she/her                         aSpire: Aim Higher

I’m Róisín, a French and German undergraduate at Merton and I’m running to be your VP Welfare and Equal Opportunities!

Elect me to improve welfare for both undergraduates and graduates with an emphasis on accessibility and achieving consistency across colleges, to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive in Oxford regardless of gender, race, class, sexual orientation and disability.

After having struggled with mental illness myself, I am passionate about making mental health Oxford’s priority. Our university is a world leader when it comes to teaching and research; why shouldn’t it be a world leader when it comes to welfare and mental health provision?

CONSISTENCY The welfare provision you receive should not vary depending on which college you happen to go to. However, at the moment, it does. I will therefore lobby for all colleges to adopt an equally supportive welfare system ensuring the best for all students across the university, compiling a ‘gold standard’ of best practice and encouraging colleges to pool resources.

OXFORD WEALTH FOR MENTAL HEALTH I want to lobby the central university body to step up and prioritise mental health. I will reassess the mental health support Oxford currently has available for students and look for solutions beyond a referral to the counselling service. I will bring in external organisations to properly train University and SU staff so that our university is as well-informed as possible on the issues affecting its students and is able to provide support when needed. Oxford has the money and research resources available, let’s use that wealth for mental health.

WELFARE FOR ALL I want to particularly look at ways of encouraging those groups who are less likely to engage with the university’s welfare provisions to do so to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive and achieve the best possible standard their mental health can be. I will dedicate time to male mental health and engaging more male-identifying students with both the University and external mental health support and resources. I recognise that those people from marginalised groups such as BME, disabled and LGBTQ+ students, may have different and more specific welfare needs and will consult with them about the changes they want to be put in place. I will establish a policy for the treatment for students following bereavement and create a support network for them.

OUT OF OXFORD SUPPORT Not being in Oxford should not mean that welfare support for students stops. I want to change the ‘out of sight out of mind’ attitude currently taken towards student welfare and develop the support given outside of term time and that given to students on their year abroad and suspended students. I will work to ensure that access to university resources continues regardless of physical location and establish online support groups.

GRADUATES The diversity of the graduate population, including student parents and mature students, and varied structuring of their courses means that graduate students have different welfare concerns, and can experience greater levels social isolation. I will consult with a panel of graduates about the most pressing issues they face and work with the VP for Graduates to establish systems which are tailored to their needs.

STUDENT CARERS I will work with the already existing ‘Take Care’ group in order to increase the amount of support available for student carers and raise awareness of already existing provision.

PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN THE CURE From “essay crises” to “5th week blues”, the concept of academic work being put before welfare is far too normalised as an inevitable part of Oxford life. I want to work to change the idea that burning out and ignoring your welfare for the sake of your grades is just a normal part of Oxford life. Let’s create a new normal which involves happier students.

Experience

- Co-Chair of SusCam (involving working with this year’s SU VP WEO)

-Former Social Media Officer - SusCam

-Lobbied for the creation of Merton College JCR Suspended Students Representative and served in the role 2016-17 and 2018-present

- Speaker Merton Equality Conversation ‘A Duty of Care’ which focussed on disability in education

-Merton College Peer Supporter

-First Respondent trained

-French sub-faculty undergraduate representative

-Admin OWSC Linguists (an online support group for Oxford linguists who identify as women)