Beaver

What differentiates the Community and Welfare Officer candidates running in the SU’s election?

The Beaver asked the candidates running for the positions of Community and Welfare Officer to answer three questions that can help students better understand what each of the candidates stand for and, more importantly, how exactly they plan to achieve what they are setting out to do.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Some answers have been condensed for clarity.

  1. What differentiates you from your fellow candidates?
Sadia Sheeraz“I’ve always been a loud person, and that’s the advantage I would bring to the role. I’m loud and demanding, and that critical honesty is what I would use to get things done. Anybody who knows me, or has known me over the last three years, knows that I have the capacity to both engage with LSE and be bold enough to vocalise the demands of the students. I’m a very empathetic person, and I’ve felt the struggles of LSE students deeply and passionately over my last three years of talking and engaging with them.” 
Momo (Zhihao) Chen“Being a 2020-2021 LSE Master student, I am experiencing and witnessing the Year of Change in university learning. I indeed understand there are more needs to be met, and more requests to be made. My diverse background makes me a perfect candidate to voice for any groups: female, Asian, international student, ZOOM class of LSE etc. Therefore, I am here to stand the role of a Community and Welfare Officer: to voice, to reflect and to negotiate your situations with the LSE.”
Faiso Kadiye“As the Anti-Racism Officer, I already got started addressing reporting racism on campus however, I could see the faults not only in LSE but also in the LSESU so I plan to work to improve both. Also, I’ve already started to work with staff through the LSE EMBRACE network, so I will push student-staff solidarity on other key issues like the LSE Nursery campaign. As C&W Officer my approach will be intersectional bringing together different communities/cultures, faiths and student groups. I will focus a lot on imposter syndrome at LSE working with widening participation to help students adjust.”
Tori Anderson“I have a wealth of first-hand knowledge about community and welfare. Leading the LSE Rent Strike has allowed me routine engagement with the current C&W officer, including sitting on the speaker’s panel at LSESU Townhalls. I’m actively engaged in the leading organisations of the current student movement: Liberate the University, which organises around demarketisation, decolonisation, and democratisation of the university, and Rent Strike Now, which coordinates rent strikes at the national level. At the bare minimum, a sabbatical officer should be actively engaged in the ongoing student struggle, which is where I invest the majority of my time.”
Emily Butt“I believe I have some unique promises such as implementing drug safety measures, we all know that many university students will take drugs and there is no need to shy away from that, instead we should be promoting safe drug use and signposting where to get help if necessary. I believe it is so important to recognise that there is a wider LSE community that also need support which is why I would lobby LSE to open the SU up to rough sleepers in the area in low temperatures at night in line with the Mayor of London scheme.”
Michael Broad“British Council University Grants: managing study abroad and organising wellbeing events as part of diversity network.
Student and elementary school tutor of disadvantaged children at UC Berkeley, a youth worker in Macedonia, an education researcher in India, and an English teacher in China.
Mental health: how we speak about it and overcome it is culturally dependent.
Recognizing each culture and individual (there is so much diversity within countries) would have unique challenges in adapting to London. I’ve had to adapt a lot, it is hard.”
  1. Describe how you plan to achieve your major manifesto promises?  
Faiso Kadiye“I plan on engaging students to give them a voice on mental health, diversity and finances through working with societies and student-led campaigns. I will call for a full review of the SU democratic process, budget and student engagement to bridge the gap between the SU and students including providing an ‘introduction to the LSESU’ guide and events at freshers. I will review the counselling services’ cultural sensitivity and lobby for more sessions and greater aftercare. To improve the system to report sexual harassment and racism, I will push LSE for greater transparency and implementation of students’ (anonymous) feedback.”
Tori Anderson“I plan to create a fighting students’ union that is first to lobby the LSE in your interest. I know who to approach and how best to apply pressure on management to achieve concessions. This power to negotiate rent and fees reductions and refunds, my policy priorities, is vested in a C&W officer. Having come up from grassroots organising myself, I understand that the integration of grassroots organisations, trade unions, and the labour movement is essential. I plan to hone bottom-up power to achieve my policy priorities as well as incorporate those that arise in future.”
Emily Butt“In order to achieve my major promises, I would ensure that it accurately reflects and represents the student voice by firstly communicating with students. With policies such as increasing the transparency of the extenuating circumstance process, continuing self-deferrals and continuing recorded lectures I would collaborate with the education officer and then engage in conversations with the school. I believe that campaigning is an important tool to raise awareness and gain momentum around a movement, so for my policies such as enforcing mandatory consent training I would use my platform to get behind movements like Hands Off LSE.”
Michael Broad“(Re)freshers: Make up for lost fun, boost membership and financial inflows: Establish RAG year (like rag week, but bigger) to create and scale social events. (Re)freshers fairs (including for 20/21 graduates). Extend AU & SU membership for 20/21 graduates by one year. Neurodiversity & Wellbeing: Counseling must be expanded. Covid stress has increased need. Improving school wellbeing is good for league tables and therefore “business”. Implement changemakers neurodiverse teaching research.
Climate: Work with environment experts (societies, research groups) to design and implement a SU carbon neutral strategy. Make a business case for slashing vegetarian and vegan food prices on Mondays.”
Momo (Zhihao) Chen“To reach my long-term promises, I have divided it into short-term goals: 1) Communicating with mental health officers to help in revamping their current appointment structure; 2) Also, meeting with LSE Life and Welcome Team to develop more activities for those still located outside of London; 3) I intend to have closed conversations with seniors and grad students whose LSE experience were influenced by the pandemic to gather their needs and report to the school. I promise to keep running a positive campaign, to keep my policies transparent, and to focus all my energy on the community building and wellbeing of the LSE students.”
Sadia Sheeraz“I want to work with individual departments on the issue of better time management. I want to work with societies and student groups that call for change, and I want to work with the SU and LSE to get us greater mental health provisions. Pushing for accountability, I want to know exactly why LSE is failing to provide the help and support that marginalised students need, and I want to challenge the idea that social mobility and diversity goals end once students get into LSE. We can’t just leave these students out on their own once they are admitted!”
  1. Addressing the following themes has emerged as a shared priority among most candidates this year: mental health, diversity and inclusion, and the rent strike. For one or two of these issues, tell us how your approach to addressing them is unique or better than your fellow candidates and those who have held the position in the past? 
Emily Butt“In terms of addressing mental health, I believe my policies address the root cause of issues which may manifest into mental health concerns, so by implementing drug safety measures, continuing self-deferrals and recorded lectures to reduce student burden I hope to foster a more community-like environment. I also believe I’m unique in promising to lobby to improve religious representation within the Wellbeing team, so our mental health services are more inclusive and accessible for all. In addressing diversity and inclusion I promise to encompass all communities of students, which is why I aim to improve religious representation within the Faith Centre.”
Michael Broad“Mental Health: I’ve been through it, in US and UK systems. I have overcome losing myself and a suicide attempt.
Recovery differs by person: Self-written lived experience in inclusion-plans, review cultural sensitivity policies.
I’m a Mental Health First Aider: Mental Health First Aid trained students in every department. Diversity and inclusion: Online pre-sessional onboarding for disadvantaged and international students: Meet students and alumni. “How to navigate LSE” workshops including careers, referencing, societies, and forming connections. Rent Strike: I’m a Resident Advisor, it’s been difficult for residents. Liaise with strikers for ways forward.”
Momo (Zhihao) Chen“I am very concerned about the mental health condition of LSE students, and the unparalleled services of LSE’s mental health and counselling services. Being a student with a psychological background myself, I have a plan for a series of  improvements of LSE’s mental health services to be better tailored to students’ needs: adding more availabilities, training counsellors’ intercultural competence, tackling mental health issues raised by online learning etc. If elected, I hope to make LSE a more reliable place for students to turn to whenever you have anything to talk about.”
Sadia Sheeraz“On the issue of the rent strike, my ability to call out LSE really does give me an advantage. Having suffered with my own mental health for the past three years, and helping others to navigate LSE’s systems has given me great insight into what exactly needs to change. On diversity and inclusion, I am the embodiment of intersectionality! I’m a working class, AFAB queer person of colour who is neurodivergent. I know what it’s like to be first generation, to figure out my own way through LSE, and life in general.”
Faiso Kadiye“My approach to diversity & inclusion will be unique as I plan to engage postgraduates, international students as well as students of colour – different student groups who have felt left out at LSE despite it being so ‘diverse’. By working with my fellow student reps I will hold a regular focus group so students constantly have a say in what I do and hold me accountable in representing everyone’s welfare. This will also build LSE into a stronger community that is diverse not only in a superficial way but in a genuine way that allows students to develop both personally and academically.”
Tori Anderson“I’m leading the LSE Rent Strike as part of the national movement against rent injustice. I intend to utilise the students’ union’s resources and innate power to enhance the impact of the strike at the establishment level. The state of student mental health is also a testament to the increasing inability of the current system to support us. We all receive mass mental health emails, that despite their best efforts to offer support, place the burden of outreach on us. I plan to remodel the current support system that you are contacted by a mentor who is accountable to you.”

To see all of the candidates running for this position go to lsesu.com/vote.

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