Label Editor, Anna Cooper met with Alex Marlowe, your candidate for Welfare and Diversity!
Welfare and Diversity EO
What are the main points of your manifesto?
My first point is to install the postgraduate welfare and diversity officer role on the welfare diversity committee, this is because I am a little bit attuned to postgraduate needs having seen the elections last year and I think it’s clear to see that they are fairly underrepresented. So, I thought what could a wealth and diversity executive officer do? There is currently no welfare and diversity representation for postgraduates – there’s a lot of academic provisions and a lot of stuff in the University and then there’s the PhD social support network weather going to the cinema and they organise things socially, but there’s nothing welfare and diversity related. Their main job would be linking with other associations because I think one mistake we make is that postgraduate students are a homogenous group, we can treat them homogenously, that’s not true; postgraduate students have massive diversity there’s LGBT+ people, there’s international people, ethnic minorities – there’s everything of course because it’s a group of students! So what I propose is that the welfare and diversity postgraduate officer collaborates with these associations to create spaces and events that appeal to postgraduate students. For LGBT plus History Month I organised a pride and research event which is sort of conference style thing which would have been really good to have had a post grad diversity officer to help take a bit of that work off and to use their connections.
My second point would be to create weekend support service for students. Currently there are no out of hours weekend services; there’s no hotline, there’s no instant messaging service and arguably students are most vulnerable at the weekend; you’re out of the bubble of University, out of the bubble of the students union, all things which provides you with brilliant resources but you can’t get that support at the weekend. What I propose is that we work with the University to create a provision that students can contact at the weekend, whatever that looks like it would be it could be a helpline, it could be an instant messaging service, but the point is we need something and it needs to happen now.
My third point is about safeguarding and inclusivity training for LSU staff. Now I think it’s fair to say that the training for LSU staff can in some departments be a little lacking and I believe LSU staff who are working at a bar on a night out for instance may not entirely know what to do if someone asks for Angela which is this covert safeguarding technique. I don’t think students security or our hired security will know exactly what to do if they see somebody who’s expressing themselves in perhaps a feminine manner on a night out, but their ID doesn’t quite match up with the way they look and that could be really uncomfortable for a trans student, so well I think we need to do is give LSU staff these tools to be able to better support minority liberation groups.
What experience do you have that makes you suitable for the role?
I was involved with welfare and diversity section very early on. I met my partner who was then the LGBT plus officer at the freshers Bazaar and since then I was trailing around everything welfare and diversity related. I started in the LGBT plus Association as a volunteer, I’d help set up as quite a sociable person I’d be chatting to different people and then I thought it’s the next step to apply for a sub-committee role. For the 2nd year so as the health and well-being officer for the LGBT plus association, in that role I spoke to a lot of LGBT plus students who are having difficult times and circumstances. There were people coming from the Philippines to Loughborough and they would disclose some hard information to hear and some difficulties. Then in my third year, I decided to apply for the LGBT plus officer role of the chair of the association and I thought I had the experience to then apply for this role. I’m in the middle of LGBT plus History Month and we’re smashing our attendance to events, we’re providing rounded support balancing fun activism and education. Now I definitely feel ready, having had this experience throughout my entire University experience, that the welfare and diversity executive officer role is one I’m ready for.
What are the current issues that you think students face and how will you tackle them?
So, I think it would be silly not mention something about mental health and so the benefits of the climate that we live in is that talking about mental health and reaching out for support is lowering in stigma. That is a brilliant sign, but there’s still more that we can do. There are broader provisions that we can provide, there are more options that we should be able to market and advertise to students so that they know where to turn to if they are struggling. I’d like to make them aware of different avenues of support that you might not necessarily think of, so it’s not widely known that the centre for faith and spirituality will sit down they’ll make you a cup of tea and chat with you about your problems – they are so lovely, but students don’t know about that. The next broader issue being a lack of understanding about where to reach out. People will perhaps just target the counselling services as their main source of support, but I think there’s a lot that a lot of us can be doing to make sure that students are aware of what else is available to support them.
What events do you want to create and or continue with that will promote W&D?
I think welfare and diversity always needs to be there to provide students with options. One thing that welfare and diversity can do in freshers is provide options that aren’t drinking heavy, that aren’t necessarily always in the night-time with the different pressures that come with alcohol. That sort of social experience needs to continue with creating those spaces and it’s worked quite well now with the current welfare and diversity executive officer, where more events were put on in freshers that were not alcohol dependent. I think if we strategized a little bit more efficiently for this coming year, we can make sure that those events are marketed well in advance, that students consider them as established an option as a night out. I want to continue that support that I’ve felt as a chair to keep making those spaces and keep making those events, for example unity for the international student’s network that is the only night that is tailored to international students. I want to ensure that there is a variety of international music that represents them and that is the epitome of student empowerment to create events for students. I think welfare and diversity is a real shining example of that, where students are able to access those provisions and takeover Fusion and put on an entire night out, for example with LGBT plus taking over JCs and that sort of thing where we have the options for non-alcohol dependent. We’ve got the associations that are creating these events and that is exactly what I think we need to continue doing and to be able to do it more efficiently.
Do you have any personal experience in using W&D service and how useful did you find them?
So yes being a gay man I understand I know mate comes a little bit of a shock but I am a little homosexual so the jacket didn’t give it away! With that sometimes does comes with a little bit of difficulty. In my first year I wasn’t out to my parents or home – I was to my mother but my dad was very homophobic. My ex outted me to my father, he sent him a lovely little email and said your sons gay, here’s him in drag him doing this and that. I’d really found my space in first year and he completely abused that and put me in a really dangerous position – as you can imagine that sort of thing is just terrifying. I was really able to reach out to was my community the LGBT plus association and the then welfare and diversity executive officer as well even messaged me personally and said I’ve heard what you’re going through and that’s really shit, if you need if you need anyone to message or talk to come to me. I was getting messages from people who heard about it and were really sympathetic and empathetic and that gave me a lot of backing to know that could be shit over there, but not right here. I think that is what welfare and diversity brings, the way it functions is just so brilliant. There’s no membership for a reason so that you don’t have to feel pressured to be outing yourself as whatever we are. My experience in this association and the community is there are there are people able to jump to your support. That specifically is what I’ve personally experienced and that gives me a really good knowledge and insight to what students can provide for other students.
If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be?
I’m going to go with my all-time favourite biscuits because I think I could be slightly represented here – so a chocolate chip cookie. I eat them where the chocolate chips are clustered in the middle. I just think that’s really symbolic – you can just chip around the edges with your little metaphorical teeth and in the middle you have the delicious chocolate chips!