COVID-19 has fundamentally altered student life. The absence of a response from campus services, university, and government have left us with three key lessons. We need accountability, security, and solidarity as a union, and from our institutions. We must guide the culture of EUSA away from appeasement and token gestures, and aim instead for direct interventions on behalf of the student body. EUSA needs to be a Union for students, not just another arm of University bureaucracy.
As your EUSA president, I intend to bring accountability to every level of our Union. I will set aside weekly office hours for all students to attend and discuss ongoing progress, problems, and processes, to set a precedent for a top-down commitment to transparency. While student councils and town halls are a great opportunity to get your voice heard, they are too few and far between. The University’s staggering bureaucracy needs a fresh start, and these weekly office hours will only be the beginning. Round-up emails highlighting the goings on of EUSA will be sent at the start of every week so you can keep up to date on the actions our Union is taking on your behalf. Within these emails we will be communicating the details of all of our discussions with the University and whether they are responding to or ignoring your needs.
My work as a bouncer at Big Cheese means I understand the importance of our security. That is why as EUSA President, I am pledging to tackle the egregious violations of student dignity and safety felt over the past year, both at a personal and a financial level. The COVID-19 pandemic made clear to many students that the University cares about profit over people. We want to change that. More notably, the increase in hate crimes and particularly attacks on BAME students in recent months has been deeply disturbing. The Universities’ reluctance to substantively address these incidents has been equally disturbing. It must be held accountable for its lack of action to fulfil their pledges to address the conditions that allowed these attacks to happen. My first action will be to take the University to task over their indifference and demand practical change, starting with the increased lighting on campus which was promised, but not delivered.
EUSA has a good heart, but we have become increasingly entrenched within the University’s aims, forgetting what a Union is supposed to be for. I pledge to restore the student-led ethos that should underpin all of our work. I will direct every officer to act as a fighter for the people we represent while I fight for every EUSA employee to earn the living wage. My team and I will take personal responsibility for cutting through the University’s inaction and dishonesty. Before we can enact good policies, we have to make EUSA a vehicle capable of seeing them through and remind ourselves who we are elected to represent. Using the authority invested in this office, I will ensure the University knows they cannot run roughshod over the students without our Union holding them to account.