Exec Elections 2022: Meeting Your Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer Candidates!

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Meet your Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer candidates – Valen Lollato and Anouska Johnson! See what they had to say about their campaigns when they sat down with Label.

Valen Lollato

What are the main points of your manifesto?

The main points of my manifesto is to first: bring back Cogs. I think Cogs was a very important part of the Union before it was closed down and rebranded into the Lounge. I would love to find an alternative solution that we can reimplement Cogs into the Union and have a bigger capacity for our nights out. Another point in my manifesto is to make it easier for students to be represented on campus. For example, I would love to establish drop-in sessions with the Welfare and Diversity Departments, even staff can come in, so they can speak about any concerns they may have. One of the issues I had is that I didn’t know where to go or who to ask and it’s when I actually entered the W&D Family that I understood. Sometimes this information is just not so well-known. 

What previous experience do you have which is important to the role?

I am currently part of the W&D Family and the Plus Officer for the LGBT+ And Friends Association so, I have knowledge about how the W&D Department works. I have also collaborated with other parts of the W&D Department like the Women’s Network, Disability Support Network. I have also been a Fresher Helper – I was helping during Freshers and part of the Fresher Helper group for Cayley. It was very fun but, also very challenging. I had to look after the Freshers and sometimes it was very hard emotionally – especially if I had to find freshers who needed emotional help. I’m also studying psychology so, I have a psychological background about mental health, physical health. I’m also a trained mental health first-aider so, I know how to help people who are in crisis and need help due to mental illness.

What events and projects do you want to spread which will promote W&D?

I think that is what the W&D Department is doing so far – it’s very good, we have many events that are running. For example, Self Care Sunday which focusses on mental health which I think is quite good to address so we can spread more awareness about mental illnesses and mental health on campus. I would love to do more engaging stuff and bring more people in with fun activities. I was thinking about a W&D Bake-Off in which we bring all the W&D sections together and make them battle with their culinary skills. 

Anouska Johnson

What are the main points of your manifesto?

My manifesto covers three main issues. The first is to ensure that LSU develops a strategy to ensure that there is diversity and representation amongst the Union staff to develop inclusive student opportunities. I think this is really important to have staff and people higher up that represent the needs, the wants and to understand the student body and what minority and liberation groups would want out of their Union. My second point is that I help in facilitating as the EO and carry out a standardisation or consistent training for all W&D student facing volunteers. I hope that this will empower them to carry out their roles. I think there is improvements to be made with some of the trainings which go on. For example, if we’re talking about W&D, things like Hall Reps, Department SIOs, even potentially Hall Chairs and student facing volunteers who may come into associations with disclosures, for example. I think it’s important that they have the tool-kit and the ability to take on issues that may come in their way for them to be able to deal with it properly. My third point is to establish a really strong, working relationship with the Pro-Vice Chancellor for W&D and the LSU EDI Sub-Committee. I don’t think either of these exist currently but, this will be something that I will have to work on. These have been heavily brought into fruition with Alex but, it will be my role to make sure that these relationships are strongly established and they have a set in stone place at the Union. 

What previous experience do you have which is important to the role?

Throughout my three years at Loughborough, I have been in three voluntary roles. The first of which was the W&D Officer Hall Rep for my old hall – Harry French. That was disrupted in my first year due to Covid but, I think that taught me how to support and uplift students and be there for people remotely and in-person. I think that’s really key to the role should circumstances change potentially. The second role, I was a Vice Chair for my department in the second academic year. That was fully remote – we never met the full committee in person! What this predominantly taught me was: how to operate remotely, fully remotely and reach out to students across the department – which is quite big! We couldn’t do an awful lot that year but, what we did do was really try to have some support and things still going on in the height of the pandemic. This year, I currently sit on the W&D Committee as the Hall and Department Reps Coordinator so, kind of putting together my last two bits of experience that I have! I have fused the two, if you will. I applied for the role at the end of my first year, when I still was a Hall Rep. I didn’t get the role but, I re-applied at the end of my second year so, last summer. I was luckily very successful. I think being on the W&D Committee itself this year has helped me to understand the role of the EO and what they have to do in supporting associations. Things that each association or, Officer or, Head brings up in meetings, for example. I know kind of the nature of what associations will have to deal with. I feel like I am more knowledgeable with those matters. I think this year the Hall and Department Coordinator role lends itself quite well to the EO role in that, the EO obviously sits and chairs and monitors the activities of all 9 W&D associations. Whereas, I kind of do something similar. Maybe different in scale but, I don’t think so in nature. I’m overseeing the activity of W&D in 17 halls and 13 departments and supporting those groups with things like: disclosures and helping them facilitate ideas and things they would like to achieve in their halls and collaborating with associations.

What events and projects do you want to spread which will promote W&D?

Kind of going back to my first manifesto point about ensuring there is W&D amongst the staff, is that I want to have projects that are supported by them and reach as many students as possible. What I would like to do is to have events and collaborating with associations or, helping facilitate things that go within relevant associations such as de-stigmatising certain topics. I think what my manifesto partially leads on is education and what I would love is to have a role in assisting the education in quite stigmatised topics at the moment so, things like sexual assault. I would love to support events that would de-stigmatise things. 

 

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