#DearViceChancellor - Update

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Grace, Beth, Ebie, Claire, and Holly from DisCam stand in front of the Clarendon Building. They are Grace, Beth, Ebie, Claire, and Holly from DisCam stand in front of the Clarendon Building. They are

#DearViceChancellor - Update 

Following our meeting with the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Martin Williams, Ebie, Claire, Beth, Holly, and Grace from Oxford SU Disabilities Campaign met on Wednesday with Louise Richardson, Vice Chancellor, to discuss concerns raised by students about mental health at Oxford.

We delivered 600 postcards, collected during the postcard campaign we ran for University Mental Health Day. A huge thanks to all the students who used their voice (the theme for University Mental Health Day 2019).

We expressed concern in 7 main areas:

1.       Funding for mental health services.

2.       Diversification of treatment.

3.       Peers supporting peers.

4.       (Lack of) Support for suspended students.

5.       Inclusive teaching practices.

6.       Inconsistency between colleges.

7.       Excessive workloads and pressure.

The Vice Chancellor seemed receptive to our concerns and said she would read the postcards. She seemed particularly shocked at the treatment of suspended students, and by the variations between colleges. Following on from this, DisCam is looking to liaise with SusCam on a project regarding the variation in the treatment of suspended students between colleges - we hope this will be a platform on which we can fight for change. The Vice Chancellor also expressed her lack of power over individual college regulations, as they are independent legal entities. However, we hope she will use her influence to encourage colleges to follow our recommendations.

With regards to excessive workloads, the Vice Chancellor asked our thoughts on introducing an additional reading week into the term, which we were much in favour of, but this will require input from other committees and will take time. If this is something you agree with, we suggest sending your thoughts to Oxford SU’s VP Access and Academic Affairs (Email: xxx) We’re very eager for this issue to be on the agenda. Louise highlighted the rise in mental health conditions was prevalent across universities, in the UK and beyond, and emphasised her work in meeting with other universities to develop responses and solutions. Nonetheless, she was receptive to us emphasising the Oxford problem, which you told us was exacerbated by the intense workload, so we’re hoping this really is something we can address going forward.

Our concerns regarding peers supporting peers put weight on our arguments for more funding, and diversification, of mental health treatment at Oxford. We are aspiring to an Oxford whereby mental health problems can be identified and addressed appropriately, and where peers do not have to respond to severe situations they are not trained for.

Oxford SU Disabilities Campaign would like to say thank you to everyone who filled in a postcard or sent in a letter. Your input put weight into our concerns, gave us a platform on which we could speak to the Vice Chancellor, and will hopefully contribute to fast and meaningful change.
 

Claire Saxby

Mental Health Officer

June 2019

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