Vice President Wellbeing and Community Blog – Term 1 Review
Hello everyone! It has been a really short holiday season, right? Like everyone else in social media, I have been making a recap of the year these past few weeks, in my case, about my first months as a sabbatical officer. I know that everyone has deadlines over the next few days, so here is something for us to read between Instagram stories and staring at the screen of the computers in the library.
This firsts months in the job have been some of the hardest months. As an international student, getting to understand how a student union runs, how the sector (UK higher education) operates and what are the times and spaces to work on has been a challenge. Hopefully, the second term will prove to be better as I am more settled now and I have a couple of ideas for my campaigns.
As Wellbeing and Community Officer, I started my year providing activities and events on international days of action that correlate with my interests and campaigns. Some of the this that I´ve done this term include to develop an online campaign for Black History Month named #decolonizeyourbookshelf, to help students to organise a street performance on the International Day against Violence against Women and to continue with the efforts of my predecessor on students sex workers rights. As part of my collaboration with the Sex Workers Professional Group that involves local stakeholders such as MESMAC, YorSexualHealth, IDAS, Changing lives and other organisations and charities in York the GSA took part on an online campaign for the International Day against Violence against Sex Workers.
I am very pleased to have had the time and the space to collaborate and create events hearing your experiences and opinions! Students have been an active part of each event, as I have been meeting with you on a regular basis -almost every week of the term! And as a result of this collaboration different kinds of events have come out, such as religious celebrations or the film screening and discussion about decolonising research organised earlier in the year.
I have also been contributing to the diverse actions and activities that the industrial action required from the GSA, at the Council Meeting that decided the GSA position, contributing to the GSA Statement and F&Q, coordinating meetings with UCU, helping students to organise teach-outs in support of staff, handing tea and coffee at the picket lines, and producing a blog from Council to articulate our decision to back up the industrial action.
Finally, I have also been working with the other sabbs in joint campaigns for the next terms such as ‘Liberating the curriculum’ campaign and with the GSA part-time officers to improve the sports provision at the GSA and the volunteering opportunities, I hope to see much more of this in the times to come!
But… What´s next? One of the priorities in my role this academic year is to work towards a better mental health provision at the university. This last term I have been included in discussions with the University about new departmental support regarding student wellbeing, so we are probably going to see some changes in the next months. But I am interested in developing a campaign focused on PG´s mental health so I am working with York academics and other SU into seeing how can we improve the quality of the services offered to students. Finally, as a member of Time to Change -a local branch of the national initiative to end mental health discrimination-, this next term I will be organising some events in order to tackle stigma. It´s time to start talking about our mental fitness!
I hope that in the next few months new opportunities and collaborations come forward, but if there’s anything else you think I should be doing, please let me know writing to me either to my GSA FB or at firstname.lastname@example.org