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EUSA presidential candidate Jason Gallagher: It’s time to be heard, Edinburgh

My name is Jason Gallagher and I’m running for EUSA president for a multitude of reasons.

We have all witnessed during this pandemic how students have been ignored, vilified and victimised. I remember seeing reports of Edinburgh university handing out incorrect meals to first year students lured from their home with the promise of a university experience, provided little care at all. I remember reports of students at Manchester university being fenced into their own student halls. First year can be an incredibly difficult time even without a pandemic and seeing the way students were being treated with no regard for who they are as people, sparked something in me. Where were their representatives? Who was there to voice their anger and frustration? To me, I heard silence.

My first manifesto pledge is to unify and amplify our voice. In past years, the National Union of Students (NUS) has sent emails and created petitions. I will push for the union to create picket lines, arrive at both Holyrood and Westminster with delegates of students, and fight for a place at the table of every single decision that concerns us. We have a voice. That has not gone, it has not weakened, but I believe it has become fractured. We need one unifying voice to fight our case, with the backing of the 600 student bodies and the 2.38 million students across this country.

No wonder students are suffering. The waiting list to speak to a mental health professional can and does stretch for weeks. I do believe that uni is trying to help us. However, they are not doing enough. We can do better. My second manifesto pledge is to modernise our mental health services. Just because we’re at one of the world’s oldest university’s, does not mean we have to take an outdated approach to mental health. Using trained counsellors, let’s get the training to help each other, so you aren’t waiting for that email from student support or for that appointment. Let’s gain tools we can use to navigate adulthood and our future careers.

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My third manifesto pledge is to revive the voices of past students and honour them on our university buildings. Women and people of colour built this university. They should be respected as such, and students of today should know who they are as much as we know who David Hume was. More work needs to be done to highlight these students and that, alongside my previous two pledges, is what I will focus on during my first 30 days.

My manifesto pledge covers a wider range of issues which can be found at https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/elections/manifesto/3430/. They are all of great importance but unfortunately, I only have 650 words and I like a ramble! A bit about me – I’m 22, from Kilmarnock on the west coast of Scotland. I study marketing and I’m hopefully graduating this year. I am the youngest of 7 boys and this has ensured that from a young age I have had to fight for my place the table, both literally and metaphorically, and I honestly believe my background has geared me up for this role. I want to be a voice for every student at this uni and ensure that no student ever feels marginalised or ignored. Your uni experience should and will be better than that. That I can pledge as your hopeful president.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please Vote 4 Jason come 10 am March the 8th, with voting open until Thursday the 11th of March at 5pm.

Image: via Jason Gallagher