Interviews with your Student Election Presidential candidates: Ellen MacRae

Hi Ellen, can you tell me why you’re standing in these elections?

I’m coming to the end of my degree – I’m a fourth year biomedical sciences student – and I’m now reflecting on my entire experience here. The amount of personal change that takes place at university is really overwhelming, to be honest. The role of EUSA President would allow me to work with the student body in ensuring that their experience is as good as the one I’ve had, if not better.

I currently work for EUSA, as a team leader in the venues operation department in Teviot, so I already know how rewarding it is to work for the student body. I’m coming from a position of passion, whereas other candidates seem slightly angrier at the system. I want to work in a team, with the rest of the Sabbatical Officers and the other representatives, to create positive change, rather than railing against EUSA.

Is there enough engagement in these elections from the student body?

This is something that needs to be improved, particularly with the Student Council. One of my manifesto points concerns accessibility, and by always meeting at a specific time and place once a month, the council isn’t accessible for all of our students. Most of my peers don’t even know that it’s a thing, and it’s the same problem with student elections.

Having spoken to a lot of different groups of people, I believe that the points in my manifesto are very achievable, or are least expansions of things which have worked before. Particularly with welfare, there are some great things going on currently which I’d love to continue, such as free bus passes for those with mobility problems.

Apart from accessibility, what specific changes would you like to make?

I’ve gone with a nice acronym of ACT. ‘A’ is for accessibility. ‘C’ is for change, making sure that the Students’ Association is best supporting the changes that we go through during our time here. We need better mental health training to be introduced, particularly with our Resident Assistants, who need to be well-equipped to deal with any problems that arise. I’d also like to bring in ‘help a friend’ workshops. We all know people whom we want to help, in terms of mental health, and sometimes this can affect each of us, as we feel guilty for not doing more. Opening that dialogue is really important. ‘T’ stands for transparency. We need to know what’s going on.

Going back to the mental health point, do you think the university has an institutional problem with how it deals with those issues?

Not necessarily, but we all have to do more to support our friends. Everyone has mental health; we have good days and we have bad days. Giving students the skills to recognise this and be at one with their mental health, with the use of mindfulness and meditation workshops springing up recently, is really crucial.

From 10:00 on March 9th to 17:00 on March 12th, all students can vote online via the Students’ Association’s website or MyEd.

 

Image: Edinburgh University Students’ Association 

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