SRC Sabb Blog #4 – VP Student Support
Throughout the academic year, GUSRC sabbatical officers will provide an update on the work they’ve been carrying out to make your experience at the University of Glasgow even better. Our fourth blog comes from VP Student Support, Lauren McDougall
Hello! I’m Lauren, your Vice President (Student Support), and, along with the other sabbatical officers, I’m here to make sure your experience at the University of Glasgow is the best it can be. My remit covers many things from welfare to organising campaigns to equality and diversity, but at the heart of my job is ensuring that your wellbeing is prioritised by the University and holding them to account when it’s not. I’ve had a busy first semester working on lots of initiatives that will hopefully make a big difference to student welfare here at UofG, so read on to find out more. P.s. if this inspires you to want to get involved in making changes for students our nominations for the Spring Elections open on the 5th of February…!
If someone asked me to pick the number one issue that affects students most widely it’d be mental health; everyone is talking about it, and with good reason too! More and more students are declaring difficulties with mental health, and support services are struggling to keep up with demand. That’s why improving access to services, and increasing the options available to students, is my number one priority. Along with my colleagues on the SRC executive we secured extra investment in the University’s Counselling and Psychological Services (CaPS) this year. I have been working closely with CaPS to ensure that the investment goes where students need it most; more counselling staff and the Peer Support Programme. The increased investment in CaPS ￼￼means that more students will be able to access the programme from next year. This is a huge step forward, and something students have been asking for since the initial launch of Peer Support.
Mind Your Mate
With the University’s new Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Plan, which the SRC was heavily involved in every step of its creation, more early intervention support for students has been prioritised, including our Mind Your Mate Initiative. Mind Your Mate is a peer-led mental health awareness and suicide prevention workshop. The workshop gives students the confidence and skills to spot the signs and help someone who’s mental health might be at risk. Our trainers have been trained by professionals, and have delivered the workshop to around 200 staff and students at the University so far. We have 2 upcoming open sessions that any UofG student can sign up to (more info here). In addition to the useful skills students develop, they’re also a great way to address the stigma around discussing mental health and suicide.
Student Parent Policy
Our 2017 survey of student parents at UofG found that their top areas of concern were 1. a space on campus where parents could study with their kids and 2. more awareness of the challenges faced by student parents and more support to help out when things get tough. In October, after working closely with the University Library, we launched the first dedicated family-friendly study space on campus and so far we’ve had great feedback from the students who have been using it. I’ve also been working closely with the SRC Advice Centre and the University’s Equality and Diversity Unit to draft a Student Parent policy which should be ready for launch in the next academic year. This policy will be key to improving the experience of student parents here at UofG
Over the winter exam diet I co-ordinated the cross-campus Exam De-Stress campaign, with input from the QMU, GUU and GUSA. Over the exam period we handed out 1000 very popular stress packs to frazzled students in the library, and had great feedback from students that it was a nice pick-me-up during their long library sessions!
Black History Month
In October, along with the SRC Race Equality Officer, I organised an event for Black History Month called “Confronting Glasgow’s Colonial Past”. This was a panel event featuring Dr Stephen Mullen, a UofG historian, Prof. Louise Welsh, writer and UofG Professor of Creative Writing, Graham Campbell, SNP Councillor and activist, and Marenka Thomson-odlum, a UofG PhD student. The panel led a conversation around the ways in which Glasgow as a city can address its links with British Colonialism and the North Atlantic Slave Trade. It was an absolutely fantastic event which generated a lot of great discussion and had over 200 attendees – one of our most successful events outside of Freshers’ Week . This year was the first year that a large-scale coordinated range of events for Black History Month has taken place at UofG and the SRC’s event was one of the largest in this year’s line-up. A lot of what we do in the SRC happens behind closed doors in committees and involves drafting policies or challenging out of date procedures at the University, so it’s always great to put effort in to something more public and see it be so well received!
We put a lot of work in to organising fun and interesting diversity campaigns for students, so if you like the sound of what we did for Black History Month keep an eye out for our upcoming plans for LGBT History Month in February and International Women’s Week in March!
If you’d like to find out more about what I get up to you can follow me on Twitter @gusrc_VPSS or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org