This year’s student elections have kicked off and many have been wondering who to vote for. Often, most of the attention is given to the EUSA President and VP races; however, equally important are the Liberation Officers who will be in charge of looking after the wellbeing of our more vulnerable student populations. In this case, the Disabled Students’ Liberation Officer candidates who have thrown their hat in the ring. If you fall into this category and you are wondering who to vote for, The Student talked with Anne Stoner and Mia Nicole Davies about their motivations and plans for the office.
(The Student reached out to all candidates running for Disabled Students’ Liberation Officer, but only Stoner and Davies responded to our request for comment.)
As an incredibly difficult school year draws to a close, Anne Stoner looks to the new school year and hopes to advocate for the safety of disabled students as their Liberation Officer. Stoner sees a difficult road ahead for disabled students, as it is predicted that the soonest the University will see any sort of normalcy would be December of 2021. “Our biggest challenge will revolve around ensuring disabled students are safe and comfortable as we return to in-person classes.” Stoner’s number one goal, she says, is their safety and wellbeing as we return to campus.
As Disabled Students’ Liberation Officer, Stoner is most excited about finding ways to support students who are seeking a diagnosis for their disability. Many people search for years and go through dozens of doctors to find the diagnosis that fits, which can be a very difficult process. Stoner believes she would be “so excited to support students on this path.”
As for her qualifications, Stoner cites her own experiences with physical trauma, chronic illness, and mental illness that she has dealt with during the pursuit of her degree. “This gives me extreme empathy and understanding for a vast array of disabilities.” She also believes her experience in student government within the School of Music would help her continue to advocate for disabled students.
Mia Nicole Davies
Mia Nicole Davies, another candidate for Disabled Students’ Liberation Officer, believes that the current support systems in place for disabled students just are not working. “The Student Disability service is inaccessible, unnecessarily bureaucratic, and cannot cater to the diversity of student needs.” Even with the COVID mitigation package, they argue, disabled students still have to manually apply for adjustments and Special Circumstances again and again, having to prove their disability each time. “The burden should not be on us,” they say: “this is overdue.”
Davies says they are excited to work alongside the other Liberation Officers and Sabbatical Officers in order to make intersectional administration a reality. As someone who identifies with every Liberation Officer category, Davies says they understand the importance of advocating for all students.
Davies believes that their track record of implementing change within the University speaks for itself. They have personally designed the new Disabilities Studies course which will be available next year, and has worked alongside activities representatives to make society officer training more accessible. They are also on the leadership board of CripAntiquity, an organisation that advocates for disabled scholars in ancient studies. “My experience and commitment make me very qualified to bring accessibility to all at Edinburgh.”
Voting in the Edinburgh University Students Association Election is open March 8-11.
Image via Flickr