Incite has asked all candidates in this years SU elections what they want to change at Surrey.
In the running for VP Surrey is Catherine Andrews, Laura Gainor, Leri Francis, Lucy Robinson, Hache Ferraresi, and Oreshia Thomas. Some have written in to tell you what they’ll change if they get your vote.
Hi everyone! I’m Leri Francis and I want to be your next VP Support. I’m in my final year of studying Criminology and Sociology and I love being at Surrey University. You might recognise me from The Hive or some of the University’s other support services. While studying here I have tried to involve myself in as many opportunities as possible such as partaking in a study exchange in Amsterdam! I’ve also been involved in societies such as CraftSoc and GardenSoc.
This is such a great question (but also a slightly mean one) asking me for just one thing I would want to change because there are so many! However, if I had to choose just one thing it would be accessibility as I truly believe it is at the root of everything.
I want to transform how the University of Surrey engages with accessibility in all senses of the word. It should be the starting point of every discussion because it simply isn’t good enough to exclude some students, advertently or inadvertently because of poor planning. Everything I want to introduce, advance, or keep running in my capacity as VP Support will be accessible to everyone. Talk about accessibility can often be vague and wishy washy but I think that I can cut through that with my policies to make real change at Surrey.
It has got to start with simplifying processes and making things easy to understand. Something like Extenuating Circumstances (ECs). Every year they get talked about, but every year people are still confused! The actual application of an EC is straightforward but only if you understand it. This is why I want to streamline the information around it so that anyone that needs to know about ECs can very easily find out any and all information for it. This will also be in tandem with running more EC drop in-sessions with the experts themselves, the EC teams!
Surrey has lots of brilliant support services and I have had the pleasure of working in or with a fair few of them. Sadly however, not everyone knows about them or which one is best suited to their needs. That is why, in line with my simplifying point, I want to create the ‘WellFair’ which will have all the support services available in an accessible space for drop-ins for all students.
Making Surrey more accessible goes beyond just simplifying processes though. It is about making sure people can have physical access to what they already know they need. That is why I will be pledging to bring free STI kits, sanitary products, condoms, and pregnancy tests to all of Surrey’s campuses in discrete and accessible locations.
There is so much more that I want to do here but to see it all check out my manifesto on social media (@leri4vpsupport on Instagram and Facebook). Vote Leri  for VP Support to see these changes!
Hi! My name is Lucy Robinson, and I am running to be your next VP Support!
I’m a final year Maths master’s student and am currently serving on the Support Zone as a part time officer!
My manifesto is based around 3 points: community, accessibility, and information! You can find out more about all of those on the union website – ussu.co.uk!
The support available to students at Surrey is immense, and dare I say one of the best in the country! And it is continuously growing. However, too many students are not aware, or do not think they or their circumstances qualify – or to put it bluntly ‘are not bad enough’.
Firstly, I want to work closely with Disability and Neurodiversity Services to streamline their platform, and who can access it – everyone. Anyone can approach D&N and they can guide you if they cannot directly support you. They are apart of the Wellbeing and Welfare team now, much like the Centre for Wellbeing and the Chaplaincy.
You qualify for support if you meet the criteria of the Equality Act for Disability – essentially any long-term condition that causes a significant negative impact on your day-to-day life, long-term meaning 12 months or more. Now this is a slightly greyer area for Mental Health as there are many factors. A GP would be able to make reasonable anticipation to determine whether you meet the criteria. A common misconception is that you require a diagnosis to be seen, this is not strictly true, as your GP or consultant can confirm symptoms and impacts over the past year.
The key thing to remember is all cases are assessed on a one-on-one basis – no two students are the same, meaning it is not just about disability and neurodiversity, but the specific situation you are in.
I want this information to be available to students in a much clearer and user-friendly way. Now, this information is spread across different platforms, which makes it daunting and confusing – streamlining this means putting this in one place that all students know where to access. This means training the relevant support staff (Hives and personal tutors) to ensure the same information is being delivered, no matter where the student makes contact.
Secondly, I want to make the process for EC’s more accessible and the information more readily available. Unlike school and college, there are lots of different departments at work for support, which do not necessarily have the same access to information, due to GDPR. I would like to create a flyer/infographic that is available to all students and support services (specifically personal tutors) outlining the key things a student needs to consider. This will increase clarity and give consistency to the current mixed information give by the SU and departments. Information included would be where to go for questions? Evidence. Self-certification. Not policies and regulations, easy answers, and guidance on where to go for more information. An example being, students need to know that ECs are not just about not being able to attend an exam, but also not being able to prepare for exams and assessments.
If you believe there is too much misinformation and misdirection occurring at Surrey, vote Lucy Robinson  for VP Support!
For more information, follow me @lucyforvpsupport on Facebook and Instagram, @lucy4vpsupport on Twitter, and join us at question time, or catch up on YouTube at Surrey Union!
Hi! I’m Hache and I’m running for VP Support. I am currently a PTO in the Support Zone and I’m really enjoying this experience. I’m running because I feel like I still have much more to bring to the Union and I’m not ready for my journey to be over yet. The change I would like to see is to better support students, by improving the current support service and implementing new initiatives that will make student life more accessible for all. My main points revolve around security on campus, liberation and equality and overall student wellbeing and support services.
Earlier, this year the Support Zone introduced the consent course, however there are many students who decided not to take it. I would like to implement the course in the accommodation induction, as I believe that not only will student learn more about consent, but it will also make other students feel safe knowing their flatmates took the test and are more aware of boundaries. I will however give students who find this topic triggering due to past trauma the option to opt out.
Many areas on campus are currently uncovered, and when something happens there, there is no video evidence. I have been in contact with security, and they agreed there should be more cameras around campus. We also discussed the possibility of introducing the app called Safezone for students to contact Security.When looking at the Analysis of Report + Support submissions, I found out that the most referenced issues were harassment and bullying. Currently security does not have appropriate training for solving these issues, so I would like to implement it. Appropriately trained security is essential, as they are the only people on campus available 24/7.
My second manifesto point focuses on liberation issues and equality. I want to introduce free sanitary dispensers around campus for people to use in case of emergencies. Currently, the University has agreed to have a six month trial, but my goal is to make this permanent. I want to push the University to ensure all dispensers are in gender neutral areas, so that people who do not identify as female can still utilise the service without having to go the female bathroom and would also expand this service to more locations.
International students often struggle to adapt to UK culture, so I want to offer lectures on British culture, to make sure students are prepared to settle in. I also would like to give internationals more possibilities to showcase their cultures.
I also want to focus around general wellbeing and support services. When talking to my friends from ethnic minorities, I was told that they weren’t as willing to talk to different support services because although all volunteers/employees took cultural awareness training, they didn’t feel like they would be understood, since the majority of people working for support services are white. I want to push for more diversity in services such as Peer Supporters and Welfare Watch, in order for all students to feel understood.
Many students at university struggle to make friends, whether it’s because they couldn’t find a society that was a good fit for them, or because all they’re friend graduated/went on placement. I therefore want to introduce a Make a Friend scheme, which would allow students to sign up for events such as Hari’s Challenge and be put in groups with other students and socialise.
Overall, I would like to see more students represented in the Union, and make sure everyone feels safe on campus.