The Student contacted VP Community candidate Rosheen regarding her campaign and manifesto. To read Rosheen’s manifesto, click here.
Why did you choose to run for this position?
When I first looked into the Sabbatical Officer roles it was more out of general interest as I’m not the sort of person who would typically jump at this sort of thing. The position of VP Community spoke to me the most, and ideas kept coming to me about what I would change and what are important issues to me and the people around me. I also really admire the work Georgie has done this year and I feel I have a similar approach to her. As well as my manifesto, I’d love to continue some of the great work she has been doing, for example by maintaining the price freeze on the cheapest student halls and supporting the potential building of a new student housing co-op.
What do you think will be the most challenging point on your manifesto to achieve and how will you overcome this challenge?
It will be challenging to make sure that improvements are made to cycle routes in the city because this is something that comes under the responsibility of Edinburgh City Council. My role will involve working with MSPs in Edinburgh and communicating which routes are most used by students and what specifically needs to be improved, whether it’s potholes or better markings on the road. However the good thing is that Edinburgh is a city with lots of cyclists, and many other groups in Edinburgh also want to see improved cycle paths, so it’s not just something that concerns students!
How would you ensure that more marginalised communities in Edinburgh feel involved in university life?
I think the most important thing with this will be to listen to the Liberation Officers and their priorities as representatives of marginalised communities, as they have a much greater understanding than me of the needs of these groups within the university and the wider community.
My policies are very practical things to do with improving life in the city, but in terms of building a strong university community I think this is a part of the role of all Sabbatical Officers, and it is their responsibility to let Liberation Officers take the lead on the issues affecting the groups they represent.
You say you wish to fight ever-rising rent prices. What form would this take?
Firstly, lobbying the local government, as well as working with housing associations and charities in Edinburgh. I imagine this will require lots of negotiating, which I am definitely capable of as I am someone who will hold people to account when I need to. I was thinking back to when I moved out of my flat in second year and I sent a bunch of emails to our landlord after receiving a nasty cleaning bill, for what was effectively a couple of drawers that were dusty. It was tedious, but I did manage to reduce the bill and make sure they weren’t charging us for things that they shouldn’t.
Another thing which will be key in fighting for tighter rent regulations is my plan to conduct a survey on students experiences of housing. We all know the horror stories about landlords taking advantage of students, but having concrete evidence of just how bad the problem is will be a powerful tool to use in addressing the problem.
Finally, is there anything in particular about your manifesto/campaign that you want to draw students’ attention to? What is your favourite policy?
My favourite policy is probably the textbook buy and sell scheme! I’m a big fan of second-hand books – I’ve often tried to get textbooks on eBay, but having a university scheme, and a physical place on campus where people could trade in their books would be a much simpler way to do it. And it would be more affordable for students!
Sustainability is a big personal interest of mine, so I’m also really keen on the idea of encouraging food-sharing at university – I’d love it if leftover food from university catered events was always shared with students or appropriately donated, instead of occasionally by certain staff. It’s simple ideas that would make a massive difference!
The following is a transcription of Rosheen’s responses during the Sabbatical Candidate’s Question Time which took place on Thursday 28 February 2019.
Some answers may have been edited for clarity.
Hi, I’m Rosheen, I’m a fourth year doing French and Linguistics, and for me, this position is about the links between Edinburgh the university and Edinburgh the city.
My first main area of focus is housing. We’ve all heard stories about hidden costs, soaring rents each year, and the battles between groups at flat viewings. We shouldn’t be taken advantage of like this. One of my priorities is to work with MSPs to cap rent prices and to make sure that rent can’t be hyped up year after year. I also want to increase support for finding flatmates, with flatmate finding events and events for information about finding a flat, if you’re new to that.
The second area I’m keen to focus on is transport. I’d like to ensure that bus routes suit the needs of our students, for example by including Marchmont on the King’s shuttle route. Cycling is a really important mode of transport for a lot of us, so I want to make sure we have bike pumps and tools on all our campuses. There are some great sustainability initiatives in university, like the end of year shrub collection in halls. I’d like to add to this by introducing a textbook buy and sell scheme so that materials don’t go to waste after graduation.
The final thing I want to say is that I want to encourage more students to get involved with volunteering. I aim to set up a subsidy for PVG disclosures, which is a background check that we often need for volunteer roles. Throughout my four years, I’ve been a part of many communities in Edinburgh, and I’ve also seen the major problems we face in terms of accommodation and transport. And this has motivated me to take a step further and represent student voices on these issues.
What do you think needs to be done to improve student housing in Edinburgh?
I’ve already talked about the rent price issue. I think that’s one of the things I really wanna push for. Another thing I want to do is increase the availability of the guarantor scheme because the university already has a lot of things in place to support students, but we don’t necessarily know about them. So, publicise the guarantor scheme, open it to a wider group of students. Also, the Advice Place – I want to make it more accessible to a wider variety of students.
What ideas do you have to develop student engagement with the local community?
Again, I already brought this up in my speech. Another thing I want to do in this area is to allow non-students to be on society committees because there’s a lot of committees that have members that are both in the university and not in the university. I think that will bring communities together more with students and the further community.
What would you change about transport around our various university campuses?
One of the changes I want to make is something that’s already been worked on but that needs to be worked on more – subsidies for bus passes. There are a lot of vet students that get a free month’s bus pass, but it’s not enough to cover the cost of travelling to Easter Bush throughout the whole year. This also counts for other campuses and for halls that are far from George Square like those down Leith Walk and Beaverbank.
Image: Rosheen Wallace