Wessex Scene Interview Elliot Morris, who is running for the role of VP Welfare and Communities in the 2021 SUSU Leadership Elections.
Why have you decided to run for the role of VP Welfare and Communities?
I struggled a lot in my first year with anxiety, and being able to receive counselling and guidance from enabling services changed my university experience for the better. That said, there were so many things that would have made my experience better and that might encourage other students to try enabling services. Additionally, this year hasn’t been easy for anyone and now more than ever, students need wellbeing services.
What experience do you have that would make you an excellent fit for the role?
I have spent two years on four committees, and have extensive experience with SUSU’s internal workings. Within these committee roles, I also carried out many collaborative projects which taught me how to work well as part of a team to achieve a larger goal. I believe this will make me an effective VP and hopefully allow me to achieve everything I set out to.
What are the main problems you identify with the current role of VP Welfare and Communities and how would you fix that?
Nicole has done an excellent job this year, but I do think that unfortunately, students aren’t as engaged with the role as they could be, and I think clearer communication would help that.
Considering it can be hard for people to come forward with their concerns, how do you intend to engage students on welfare issues?
There are two ways I intend to do this. Firstly, I will be reaching out to community societies (WocSoc, LGBT+ Soc, etc.) to find out what THEY need. Secondly, I intend to set up an anonymous submissions page where students can voice their welfare concerns.
How would you work to improve equality and diversity within the Student’s Union as a whole?
This is obviously quite a large and complicated issue to address. There have been some excellent suggestions from other candidates about how to best tackle diversity in the union which is really encouraging as it means there is clearly widespread support for the idea. I would work with the other sabbatical officers to come up with a plan together.
Students have expressed concerns with how the university has handled the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on student welfare. What will you do to ensure that the university ensures the welfare of all members of the university community is a priority in the next academic year?
Enabling and student welfare are my most important manifesto points, and I will be working hard over the summer to make sure that the university is ready for September. Now more than ever the university is willing to spend money on student welfare, and I fully intend to take advantage of this.
Part of your role is leading Welfare & Community campaigns such as Disability Awareness Week, ‘You are More Than’, Black History Month, LGBT+ Month and Culture Festival. How will you improve student engagement in these campaigns?
Firstly, I want to say that I think Nicole and the student volunteers have done a really good job on the campaigns during this pandemic (and before the pandemic, to be honest!). I don’t have big plans to change these events, but I want to work with the student volunteers to find out how best to improve these events.
If you are elected, what will be your top three focus areas?
My first priority will be fixing the university’s name-change policy. I understand that Nicole has started making some progress but if it is not fixed by the time I start, then I will ensure it is changed by September. The second priority will be enabling services and I have plans for this that I wish to implement as soon as possible. My third priority will be communicating with community societies to work out what matters to students.
In your manifesto you mention wanting to better advertise student services, can you expand more on how you intend to do this?
I want to work with the SUSU marketing department to come up with a social media advertising strategy to better advertise all of the services that are currently available to students that they might not be aware of.
You also mention wanting to ‘transform’ enabling services, can you elaborate on the ways in which you think the services need to be improved?
I will try and keep this answer as straight to the point as possible because I could waffle about this subject for hours!
– Primarily, I want the university to hire therapists to work with students.
– Additionally, I want a new booking system for counselling that eliminates hidden waiting lists and lets students see when they can book.
– I want online counselling/therapy to be offered post-pandemic as I believe it to be an efficient and practical alternative for many students.
– Most of all, I want to continue my dialogue with enabling services around the country because almost all of these ideas and suggestions have come from conversations I have had with support workers. I might not always know what’s best for enabling, but I can listen to those who do!