Carina (she/he/they) is a first-year undergraduate studying English Literature. They are bisexual and identify as non-binary. They are running to be Edinburgh University Student’s Association’s LGBT+ Officer. The Student interviewed Carina about their campaign.
Why are you running to be the next LGBT+ Officer?
To put it simply, I am extremely passionate about LGBT+ identities, both in a personal and a political sense. I have always tried to aid in issues I feel strongly about such as through volunteering and fundraising. In our current generation, as we are watching policies slowly change for the better, it is a prime time to get involved. Especially when I finally gained the opportunity to participate in LGBT+ politics that I would not have been granted as much freedom to do back at home.
Edinburgh is refreshingly welcoming to LGBT+ people but there are still various shortcomings that we can improve on. For example, spreading awareness on the prevalence of sexual violence is a topic that we need to keep pushing on. By running for this position, I can directly contribute to form comprehensive and developed plans to make sure our time at university is a safe and fun experience.
How is campaigning going so far?
Campaigning has been a fun experience so far! I have mostly kept it to online campaigns. The elections, voting for those that you feel will be able to properly uphold and pursue such policies are an important part of our university life. However, there is no reason to burn yourself out to accomplish these. At the end of the day, it is all about doing your best and doing what you can. If people believe in you enough to vote, I think that is everything I could ever ask for.
What is your most ambitious manifesto point and how are you planning to implement it?
I think my most ambitious point is an increase in LGBT+ mental health awareness as well as equipping on-site counsellors with proper training to help those who need a place to safely talk about their issues and get advice. By creating a support system tailored specifically for us, we can make sure no one has a negative experience when seeking help. This pairs with my other manifesto point of hosting support groups for LGBT+ people to create a welcoming community to freely speak and reduce the feeling of marginalisation we may experience because of discrimination.
To achieve this, we should hire trained LGBT+ counsellors who know the nuances of how to care those seeking support on this specific subject. Should budget permit, we should have the university partner with local LGBT+ organisations to have them speak on the subject in public conferences. In addition, these experts can be paid for by the school to then provide free consultations on university grounds. So, there would not be any extra transportation or counselling expenses, something especially needed for those with financial difficulties.
I believe honesty is important when it comes to elections like this so I must mention that this comes with the caveat that not all proposed ideas are feasibly possible. But without trying our best and aiming for the best solution possible, we will never be able to achieve equality for all of us.
Do you have any collaboration plans with other liberation officers for LGBT+ students with intersecting identities?
While I do not have any plans right now, it is essential to come together with the other liberation officers to create support for all marginalised identities. The most obvious collaboration plan would be with the Trans and Non-Binary officer to support those who do not identify with the strict gender binary of our birth sex as there is much overlap with the goals of the LGBT+ officer. This also comes with the goal of uplifting trans women identities and coming together to find solutions to do so with the Women’s Officer.
Additionally, I feel like people of colour and disabled LGBT+ people are overlooked within the spectrum of LGBT+ identities. The social and cultural differences between LGBT+ people are often forgotten. For example, people pressuring out those who are not ready to come out to their family or friends is something that I have seen happen in my home country. Another instance is the discrimination disabled LGBT+ people may experience within the medical field due to homophobic and transphobic medical staff.
A lot of these come under future planning and discussion with all involved. While I do not want to promise anything that I might not be able to fulfil, I think it is incredibly important to have these collaborations to push for support for everyone under the LGBT+ umbrella.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
In the end, I wish for having a safe environment to pursue our education and do what we love to become our reality. To achieve this, please do not hesitate to participate in things you strongly believe in and that includes choosing who you want to represent your voice in university. With that said, if anything that I have written here has resonated with you, please do vote for me!
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Image Courtesy Carina Phey