VP Welfare Debate: Summary


VP Welfare candidates attending the debate:

  • Gabriela Discenza
  • Josh Cox
  • Emma White
  • Beckie Thomas
  • Thomas Rogers

 International, PostGrad and Mature Students

On the topic of supporting postgraduate, international and mature students, Thomas Rodgers said we should let them get on with it. Beckie Thomas wanted more contact through international societies, whilst Emma White raised concerns regarding the safety of people who do not know the Southampton area. Gabriela Discenza said that we should engage with international students at their first point of contact: the pre-sessional course.


Proudest Achievement in Welfare

When asked about their favourite part of being involved with welfare so far, Emma said she loved being there to represent those who don’t fit into the gender binary. Josh Cox enjoyed stopping advertising of payday loans within SUSU. Gabriela emphasised her experience as President of Mental Wealth, while Beckie said signing a pledge to eliminate the stigma of mental health. Thomas stressed the importance of action on a smaller scale.


Mental Health

Next, the candidates were asked how they would support students with mental health problems. Beckie wanted to advertise the variety of services available to them, whereas Josh  talked about introducing a welfare portal. Emma wanted to focus more on marginalised groups, providing services such as subtitles or interpreters. Gabriela wanted to ensure that disabled students are well-represented in SUSU.


Sexual Health

In terms of promoting sexual health, Thomas wanted a specialised clinic on campus. Josh remarked that current services are out of the way and intimidating, while Emma wanted to  run a sexual health awareness week due to the embarrassment around contraception. Beckie suggested a survey to ask if students want a sexual health clinic, and Gabriela  wanted a trial of sexual health nurses.



On the subject of engagement and representation of the LGBT community, Josh suggested they already had a great society and wanted to encourage more links with them. Emma said that a lot more needs to be done for transgender people and Gabriela agreed, proposing that we should look into improving transgender involvement.

When asked what set them apart from the other candidates, Gabriela focused on spreading the word about welfare around other campuses. Emma said that she can bring a fresh perspective to SUSU ideas. Josh emphasised his ability to represent both student life and sustainability.

Candidates were then asked what improvements they could make to healthy eating. Emma  said it was about giving people reminders, such as recipes in freshers’ packs. Beckie  wants a push on Welfare Wednesdays, using government schemes to push students and making sure vending machines have healthy options. Josh said he is working with a healthy living coordinator on how students can make cheaper healthy living choices.

When asked about how SUSU could be more energy efficient, Thomas said that lighting and electricity in the Union could be reduced using time and motion sensors. Beckie  said the BEES project will show what improvements need to be made. Josh pushed for a bigger emphasis on Blackout, while Emma wanted better recycling facilities. Gabriela called for more recyclable paper in student flyers and publications.

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Based on tonight’s debate, who is your favourite for the position? We’ll be releasing articles on the final three debates as they happen. SUSUtv and Surge are also providing live coverage of the debates.


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