Meet the candidates running for Student Living Officer in the SU elections

Voting closes on Thursday


With this year's SU election fully in swing, it's time to meet the candidates who could be running Bristol SU next year. Take a look at their answers to get more information on who to vote for. But, be quick — voting is only open from 12-14 of March!

George Bemrose

3rd year Physics

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What makes you the best candidate for this role?

“With wellbeing, I have struggled in the past myself and have had friends around me who have also struggled. The steps I have gone through to get help is ridiculous, I’m upset by that. It would be nice for everyone to get the help they deserve. In terms of sustainability I now realise that the whole 1.5’c paper came out and it’s shocking but no one is doing anything about it — the University needs to do more about it.

“Rent is too high — I have had to work multiple part time jobs to finance myself here. You could increase the loan here, but the rent is much higher here compared to other societies. I was a Community Ambassador all year and I think a better connection needs to be made.”

What is the most impressive part of your manifesto?

“I think we have a wellbeing crisis at Bristol. Making the wellbeing service for the student body and employing more Wellbeing Advisors is important. In terms of waiting times, they need to be cut. People need to be actually seen. I have friends who have been told ‘no, sorry, we can’t help you.’”

What’s the biggest change you want to bring to UoB students?

“There’s a sense in the air that people don’t think they can get help. I do think the University is trying, but people think they can’t get help. I want that sense of hope back about people’s wellbeing. I want to get the whole student body’s opinion on it and work with the students and university. We need to work together rather than work against. "

Where’s your favourite place to go on a Bristol night out?

"I love hanging out with friends in the pub and going to Spoons. You have a few and everyone wants to go out. So you go to a Triangle Club. Love to go to La Roca."

Millie Mark

3rd year Biology

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What makes you the best candidate for this role?

“Over my three years in Bristol I have had three different living experiences; student halls, a flat and a huge house. I now have a varied understanding of how student living varies. I have also been involved in voluntary work for the University, I want to encourage students to work for charities and sustainable causes.”

What is the most impressive part of your manifesto?

“Encouraging students more to volunteer and get involved with sustainable causes are the most impressive parts of my manifesto. In a survey — I think it was a few years ago — 40 per cent of students thought there were good opportunities to get involved with sustainable causes — it’s about what showing them what’s out out there. I also want to ban the use of coffee cups in University cafes.”

What’s the biggest change you want to bring to UoB students?

“I want to make sure students are much better informed about renting for the first time. No one explains to you in first year what you’re supposed to do in first year and lots of people panic. Also, lots of students don’t understand the rights landlords have over properties. The biggest change I want to bring in making sure students know their rights.”

Where’s your favourite place to go on a Bristol night out?

“I would have to say Blue Mountain, but it’s closing down soon. It’s been my favourite since first year.”

Ruth Day

2nd year Maths and Philosophy

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What makes you the best candidate for this role?

"I’ve got a lot of experience in campaigning on mental health and rent issues already. I’ve spent most of this year campaigning with Bristol Cut the Rent and meeting with various senior managers to discuss rent cuts and to push an agenda of affordable rent for everyone.

"I also helped co-found Support Our Services, the mental health campaign group, and we’ve already had two meetings with senior management so I’m quite experienced at speaking with high up people and pushing for a better university for students on those two issues. I’ve also got experience with living with mental health issues and being inside the University mental health system myself so I know what should change.

"I’m also very open: I find it easy to talk to people. I’ve been doing a tonne of door knocking with Cut the Rent so I know how to approach people and find out what they want. "

What is the most impressive part of your manifesto?

"I’d say the section on quality and affordable housing for all because rent and housing impacts every single person at Uni. One half of that section is about halls, so cutting the rent and doing a review of the ResiLife system. I believe that’s so important because I’ve chatted to a lot of students who are either in their overdrafts simply from paying rent in October or they’re having to get part time jobs. Financial pressure is something that really impacts your mental health: 40% of respondents to a BBC survey said that high rent negatively impacted their mental health. So tackling that will really improve the student experience for first years.

"The other section is tackling exploitation of students by private landlords. I want to set up a housing co-operative to give people a cheaper accommodation choice and a student tenants union so students can come together and fight for better housing. I feel like these things encompass all areas of the Student Living role and will impact all students in a really positive way."

What’s the biggest change you want to bring to UoB students?

"How the University addresses student mental health as a whole. First that means improving the services and whole big part of my manifesto is having a three tier system for that so everyone gets the support they need. So first, quality academic and personal support, students being able to get the extenuating circumstances they need and more wellbeing advisers. Then next access to a diverse and accessible counselling service, so everyone has someone who can talk to who can relate to their experiences in some way. Then third tier, the University should not be neglecting students with more complex mental health needs, for example they shouldn’t be suspending students and kicking them out of the Uni.

"On top of that, I want to change the way that the University looks at mental health. So that’s thinking about what are the root causes of this issue. A lot of students are really stressed by the intense competition at university and the drive to get a job or get a first. Setting students against each other puts them under pressure. Again too, there’s a financial aspect to it: we’re having to pay tuition fees, we’re having to pay rent. So on top of great services, the University need to think about these root causes if they’re going to tackle the problem."

Where’s your favourite place to go on a Bristol night out?

Can I say my whole night out? I’ve got a night out plan. You start in the Berkeley Spoons, two pitchers, quite fun. Then a bunch of us go back to my house for pres, cause I live really close to OMG. Then OMG, have a little dance, have some fun. Then end the night in Diamond Kebab with a chips and salad wrap. Or if I feel like I have money, walk up the hill to Taka Taka. I did all that on Wednesday.

Tom Parry

Medicine

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What makes you the best candidate for this role?

"I know how the SU works having been a member of the democratic standards committee last year. I was a director of a summer camp for adults with learning disabilities over the summer so, hopefully, I can bring the experience of directing a charity to this role. Finally, I have been a peer mentor with the Uni for the last three years so I think I have a good understanding of the support services available to students."

What is the most impressive part of your manifesto?

"I have used research to inform my promises of what I will do. I think a lot of students are turned off by the SU as they see it as too political and not focused on issues which affect students every day. I hope that by raising awareness of these issues I can make the SU seem more relevant to everyone but also reduce stigma around issues such as mental health and sexual health by getting people to talk about them more."

What’s the biggest change you want to bring to UoB students?

"I want to make the SU an organisation which all students feel they can engage with by representing their interests and making sure all groups are as welcoming as possible. My aim would be that more students would know about the great support which is already available for them from student groups and would feel more comfortable engaging with them. If elected I want students to feel they could always come and have a chat with me about anything."

Where’s your favourite place to go on a Bristol night out?

"I'm not really a hugely nights out kind of person (except the occasional OMG Wednesday). Most evenings you would probably find me working backstage on a show in the SU (the shows are actually amazing)! My favourite night-in would be staying up late chatting, watching a film and eating (vegan) ice-cream."

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