By Rebekah Lowri
After a successful first night yesterday, Forge Debates was back this evening as our candidates for the final four officer roles gathered in the SU’s Gallery. Here’s our round-up of the debates for the roles of Women’s, Welfare, Education and Activities Officers.
The first debate of the evening was for the role of Women’s Officer. Each of the candidates in turn touched on the issues surrounding sexual consent, the role of Women’s Officer in representing all liberation groups and tackling menstrual health and ending period poverty.
All of the candidates agreed that more support is needed for students from all liberation groups, in the process of reporting sexual assault as well as the support following on from the initial traumatic event.
Rosa Tully’s focus was on providing compulsory training and consent workshops at the beginning of every year, not just during freshers’ week. She would also implement a key card much like UCards, which would provide free sanitary products for students who need them.
Grace Thambryrajah discussed the different challenges that face women of colour as well as non-binary, LGBTQ+ students, and how they need more representation. She stated that the current system does not have the resources to deal with the specific needs of different liberation groups, and need to be trained to be sensitive to different cultural aspects.
Cara Mahon emphasised the need for a more open discussion on the issues surrounding sex and sexual health. She also spoke about empowering students by reaching out to successful female academics within the university and making them more visible. On the topic of menstrual health, she would like to make mooncups available at a discounted price, as it is a one time purchase that could last up to five years.
Sara French discussed the importance of making procedures more easily accessible and highlighting successful women of the university. She has a core focus on sustainability surrounding menstrual health, and would like to push for reusable sanitary products.
The debate on Education opened on the topic of lobbying the government and the university on issues such as free education, tackling hidden costs at university, student staff solidarity and the need for more study spaces.
Sam Nash concentrated on access courses, making education accessible to more people and the need to forge relations between the SU and local mental health services. He also called for transparency surrounding the issue of Brexit and the impact it could have on international students.
Jaz Catlow focused on the need for increased involvement of personal tutors in pastoral care, and emphasis on mental health and support for all students throughout their university careers. She also discussed the inadequate capacity of libraries for the ever increasing number of students at the university.
Ben Warner placed emphasis on lobbying the government for free education, but also taking into account the fact that this would not be accomplished within one year. If elected, he will campaign to tackle hidden costs such as printing charges and textbooks. Priding himself on his approachability, he will offer £5 printing credits to all and work towards supporting both staff and students at the university.
Carlie Porter promises to effect change for both staff and students, and focused on the importance of combating cuts to departments such as the School of Languages and Cultures, and stabilising their role within the university ecosystem. He will promote pastoral care and and support systems and initiate campaigns for lower rent, reduce mental health wait time for students as well as addressing the gender pay gap, job insecurity and increasing workloads of the academic staff.
The third debate of the night was the candidates for Welfare Officer. Both candidates, Beren Maddison and Sadie Base were equally passionate in their approach to the role, debating issues integral to student life such as mental health, students with part time jobs and housing.
Sadie opened by stating that you cannot have a good experience as a student without maintaining a good state of welfare throughout your university career. Speaking from personal experience being mistreated by her part-time employers, she placed emphasis on supporting students who have to work during term time to pay bills and ensuring they know their rights when it comes to employment.
Beren focused on effecting change as well as listening to the needs of all liberation groups, and mobilising them to seek out the correct support system for their needs. He also wants to allow easier access to extenuating circumstances and simplify the process, whilst also training staff to be more informed and better support students.
Eight of the 11 candidates for activities officer were present for the debates, and due to their large number had to be separated into two debate groups. Each group in turn discussed issues pertaining to accessibility, an improved room booking system and helping niche societies gain more publicity.
As there are so many candidates for this position, we have resumed the topics presented in the discussions. But you can re-watch the full debate to catch up on everything you missed.
Emphasis was placed on the importance of inclusions training for all committee members in all societies, not only the larger societies, and the need for clarification of the role of an inclusions officer.
Each of the candidates expressed the importance of forging cross society links and collaboration, and discussed the idea of varsity for societies as well as in sports.
There was debate surrounding the best way to engage students who do not frequent the SU, be it through screens around campus, the iSheffield App, an improved website or paper directories showcasing the 350 at the University of Sheffield.
You can re-watch the whole debate at Forge TV, here: