Candidate for the position of Disabled Students' Officer

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Ellen Blunsdon

Zero-Tolerance of Ableism: Building on the Students’ Association’s safe space policy, I will ensure a zero-tolerance policy against ableism is adopted, enforced and widely publicised, to create a safe and welcoming environment for disabled students across campus.

Staff mental health and accessibility training: Mental health training for Personal Tutors at the university is currently not mandatory. I will lobby the university to change this system to ensure all university staff understand issues of mental health. Furthermore, I want to increase training to include accessibility awareness for all staff, so that physically disabled students are not left out of conversations within the university.

Liberation not compliance: I will lobby the Estates Department to revise their accessibility policies, asking that they need to focus on creating a truly accessible campus, not just one that meets government regulation. Their current five-year programme of investments serves limited buildings and aims only to comply with legal standards. A radical and creative approach to physical accessibility is needed to create a safe campus that accommodates the needs of all students.

Include disability on the curriculum: I’m in the process of proposing a motion to the Student Council to encourage including disability history and theory in the curriculum. Our community is diverse, vibrant and worthy of study with the university’s lack of intersectional inclusion reflecting the lack of representation disabled people have within society. 

Resource Hub: The Student Disability Service and the Advice Place offer many brilliant resources that students just don’t know about. I will create an area on the Students’ Association website to collate that information where you can find out everything from how to get into the disability service to accessing local support groups. This will also serve as a hub for able-bodied students for planning accessible events, learning basic first aid or seizure awareness, and tackling everyday ableism.

Weekly drop-in sessions: I will set aside a few hours per week where I will be available to meet all students in accessible venues across campus. Talking through email is not for everyone, so this will be an opportunity for you to raise concerns, ask questions and learn more about the campaign in person. Listening to disabled students is the most important part of this role and I want to make it as easy as possible for you to raise your voice.

Build our community: I will continue to build our community, holding regular get-togethers, crafting sessions, talks, panels, and more, for disabled students. Especially focusing on Disability History Month, these events will be engaging, informative andl fun, allowing us to celebrate the disabled community together.