Student’s Union AGM preview

Fossil Fuel disinvestment, mental heath and student parent support all to be discussed

The Students’ Union AGM is set to take place next week, and will discuss issues including support for student parents, compulsory mental health training for personal tutors, and the need for the university to disinvest in fossil fuels.

The first motion of the meeting calls for the Students’ Union to adopt more ‘child-friendly’ practices for parents in university, including the provision of resource boxes or toys for children and the creation of a crèche allowing parents to socialise at events.

It also expressed the need to help develop a network for student parents, both online and face-to-face. According to Madeline Page, Welfare executive member and representative for discussion, campaign and awareness, the Students’ Union should “be pioneers for supporting student parents” by collecting data on the parental status of students in order to improve their support.

VP Heath Katey Beggan will act as second speaker on behalf of the motion and supports its proposals, including a campaign to make both campuses of the Students’ Union more accessible for student parents and implement pricing tiers at the existing crèche to make it more affordable to non-staff members.

These proposals were submitted following statistics showing that 77 per cent of student parents do not find it easy to get involved in university or college life. The financial difficulties of become a student parent was also stressed, with 54 per cent of those asked admitting that they had taken on debt in addition to student loans in order to cover living costs.

The second motion of the night will attempt to persuade students to vote in favour of lobbying the university to implement compulsory mental health training for personal tutors and research supervisors.

The idea was proposed by VP Welfare Kate Delaney and VP Postgraduate Students Katie Kelly and suggests that consistent mental health training across all programmes be implemented.

This follows a study noting that one in four students experience a mental health problem during college or university. The Union’s previous commitment to tackling the issue was also noted, as a Time to Change Pledge has already been signed to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination.

“Comprehensive research” will be undertaken this year by VP Katie Kelly to research the needs and wellbeing of postgraduate students.

The last motion during the AGM calling for disinvestment of fossil fuels comes in the wake of information last week revealing that the University currently invest over £2 million in non-renewable sources such as oil and gas.

Ethical and Environmental Officer Daniel Tucker will lead the debate, and will call for an open letter to be written to Vice- Chancellor Colin Riordan in support of disinvestment.

If the motion passes, the Students’ Union will be obliged to publicly oppose the University’s continued investment in the fossil fuel industry through its use of social media, print media and advertising campaigns. It is suggested that this should also be used to promote the “efforts of student-led movements where possible.”

It is also noted that the Students’ Union commit to reducing its own emissions which would be monitored by the Environmental Officer and sabbatical team and presented to the student body.

Protests against the University’s current investment in oil and gas took place last week, as environmental society People and Planet conducted a lie-down revolt and poured oil on participants. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by the society revealed that current investments stand at a value of £2,045,851.

The meeting will be held on Thursday in the Great Hall, with doors opening at 5.30pm. Everyone is invited to attend and participate in discussion.