‘I love Sussex but there are a lot of things that we need to change’: The Sussex Tab talks to Filip Vasilijevic
He aims to tackle hate crime, student housing issues and aims to hold the university to their promises
Filip Vasilijevic is a third-year biochemistry student who has already represented Sussex at the National Union of Students (NUS) conference, as well as currently chairing the Student Union Council. Now he wants to step it up a gear, we interviewed him as he runs to be the Student Union President.
Many have mentioned the problem with inclusivity at Sussex recently, is this true? If so, how do you hope to tackle this?
Filip tells us that one of the biggest problems at Sussex is the “overabundance of hate crime.” Reminding us of swastikas that have been graffitied on university buildings, as well as the horrific Auschwitz slogan found on the University's East Slope building site.
But Filip believes the problem truly lies in the reporting process, "for many who have reported abuse or hate crime, nothing happened."
Filip wants “a Buzzfeed style questionnaire” that directs you to who you should talk to. He also wants to work with officers who represent minority groups, in order to tackle hate crimes targeted against them.
“We know about abuse that has happened several times before,# and nothing has happened” he says.
You mention in your manifesto about improving housing services for students. Do you have specific plans as to how you will accomplish this?
“I have been personally involved with protests about the way that students are treated by their landlords" says Filip. He wants to work closely with ACORN, a UK renters union and anti-poverty organisation that aim to stop students being taken advantage of.
Filip also claims that, "although Sussex's Student Letting agency is a great platform, they have a limited scope of houses and the university has a limited scheme to help those who do not have a guarantor.”
Having been in this situation himself, and having had to ask a friend's Dad to support him, Filip has many plans to support students in the same position. One of which is to, "create a comprehensive leaflet on what landlords can and cannot do.”
You also mention a ‘cross-school lecture series’ in your manifesto. What does that entail?
Filip highlights how many people have interests in other subjects, not just their own subject area, “I study biochemistry, but I am interested in many things such as politics, international relations and business.”
He passionately tells us about the wide range of interesting academics that work at Sussex, who are available to talk to. The cross-school lecture series will be a way of bringing different schools together, allowing anyone to attend, and listen to a voluntary lecture in a specific field.
Finally, there have been a lot of reports of people not getting enough support for mental health issues whilst at the university. As president, how do you aim to respond to these issues?
Filip explains, “the problem with counselling availability is space, the Student Life Centre is tiny."
"The new East Slope was meant to provide more spaces for counselling, as they have dedicated an area to student services. Therefore, I want to push them to stick to their promise and allow more space for counsellors to help Sussex students" he says.