If you’ve been studying at the University of Liverpool for a couple of years now, you’ll know that one thing that is taken seriously here is the annual student officer elections. If you weren’t sure, the role of a student officer is to be a voice for students in putting forward issues and suggestions to the university. There are four elected officers: a president, and three deputy presidents. These four students will then work together to bring about change to the campus and the lives of University of Liverpool students. This year’s student officers put a lot of work into a rent rebate for first year students in halls, which was relatively successful. Last month, the student body voted for who you wanted to replace this year’s student officers, and we thought it was about time we introduced them to you!
18 candidates ran this year, with Bertie Woodcock elected as President, and Imogen De Castro Gray, Jamilia Kwajah-Ellimah and Chloe Field as Deputy Presidents. Both Imogen and Chloe made up half of this year’s student officer team, along with Adnan Hussain and Ffion Thomas.
Bertie Woodcock (President) – @votewoodcock
With the catchy tagline “My hairline may be going back, but my policies will move us forward” kicking off his manifesto, it was clear that Woodcock would be a strong candidate from the beginning. And simply from the breadth of issues his policies cover, it’s clear that Woodcock will indeed help move us forward during his term as Guild President. Woodcock begins by highlighting accommodation issues, claiming that he will ‘put dodgy landlords out of business’ and ‘refund your rent’, suggesting that he will sustain the campaign begun by the current student office, but also providing support for those who no longer live in halls and are victims to unreliable letting agencies and landlords. Woodcock also explains how he hopes to improve the Student Support available for anyone struggling, whether it’s university or home-related.
More social aspects of Woodcock’s policies include reducing the cost of University Gym memberships and AU costs so they are more accessible on a student budget. Similarly, Woodcock aims to bring back ‘more Guild events and nights out than ever before’, which I know I find exciting after missing out on a year of Guild events due to COVID. With this in mind, Woodcock also pledges to provide better support for the university’s societies, saying that he will ‘improve society resources, support and freedoms’.
On a more serious note, Woodcock’s policy also includes pledges to ‘make our city safer’ by blacklisting nightclubs that are active bystanders to sexual assault and promoting clubs that create safe environments. Furthermore, he hopes to kickstart ‘The Uni’s first-ever Safe Taxi scheme’, like those similar that are run at other universities. Finally, Woodcock aims to work towards ‘A Guild for Everyone’, which represents students from all backgrounds and educational circumstances.
Imogen de Castro Gray – @imagineimogenliverpoolguild
Image Source: Imogen De Castro Gray on Instagram
Already part of this year’s student office, it’s clear Imogen knew what she was doing not only with her punny tagline, ‘Imagine Imogen… Imagine what else!’, but also with her policies. De Castro Gray’s manifesto begins by explaining her aims to put pressure on the university to cut graduation fees and reduce costs of essential textbooks, therefore making university more accessible to all students. With this in mind, Imogen heavily focuses on creating an inclusive campus for ‘transgender and gender non-conforming students’, making the campus more accessible, and pressuring the university to sustain anti-racism work and decolonize the curriculum university-wide.
Much like Woodcock, de Castro Gray aims to tackle sexual assault on campus and in Liverpool nightlife, as well as to create a ‘Survivor’s network’ for survivors of sexual assault to come together, to receive support and realise they are not alone. Similarly, Imogen aims to work on the University’s mental health services to ensure that the university continues to improve on the services currently available to students. Also, Imogen plans to rebrand the university’s services based on student feedback, so we can receive a service that is actually helpful to us!
De Castro Gray also pledges to provide continued COVID support for students with regards to tuition, rent, impacts to students’ grades, and the return to face-to-face teaching. Similarly, she also hoped to ‘Refresh Freshers’ in order to provide the full student experience that so many of us have missed out on.
Jamilia Kwajah Ellimah – @jamilia4guildpresident
Next up is Jamilia, who like Woodcock, is new to Student Office. Despite this, her policies are already so strong, with her main aim being to get ‘uni life back on track’, after such a hectic year. Like Woodcock, she wants to improve accessibility to sport and leisure, by reducing gym membership prices and the costs of other sports clubs, as well as introducing a monthly payment scheme, which as of yet is not available. Kwajah Ellimah’s reasoning for this is because of the impact physical activity can have on mental health, which leads into the next pledge in her manifesto: to improve the accessibility of mental health support. Alongside this, she also wants to remove the stigma behind seeking support for mental health, as well as creating support sessions where students can build a support network of students while also being aided by welfare professionals.
Another aspect of Kwajah Ellimah’s manifesto is promoting diversity at UoL, by encouraging students to learn how to ‘accommodate and appreciate one another’, through introducing diversity training for staff and students. With this in mind, Jamilia explains how she would aim to offer ‘accredited open courses about Black, Asian and LGBT+ British History, as well as creating more events to celebrate the diversity at UoL.
The final element of Kwajah Ellimah’s manifesto is that she aims to prioritise sustainability around campus, promoting a sustainable lifestyle for students by offering reusable items to us.
Chloe Field – @vpchloefield
Much like Imogen, Chloe is no stranger to the Student Office. In her manifesto, Field claims that she will continue standing up for students and holding the university to account, with regards to multiple student-related issues. Firstly, she highlights her aims to tackle sexual assault, after having spent the past year noting the failings in the university’s weak spots in reporting and disciplining sexual misconduct. Field also aims to ensure that reporting sexual assault can be ‘survivor focused’ so that it does not contribute to the traumatisation a survivor would already face.
Another aspect of Field’s manifesto targets the issues that have come to the surface as a result of the pandemic, as she promises to organise a campaign alongside other student unions to pressure the government to abolish tuition fees. Furthermore, Field also claims that she will strive to reduce rent costs for students at UoL, because this often can’t be fully covered by maintenance loans.
In a slightly alternative pledge, Field highlights the drug culture at British universities and how this can often cause a decline in mental health. She explains how last year she was unable to put drug purity testing kits into place because of COVID, and that she will ensure that next year students ‘will be able to test the purity and contents of illicit drugs’ from the next academic year.
Imogen and Chloe, who are both returning student officers
Hopefully, you now know more about our new Student Officer team, and can have faith in the changes they will work together to bring about throughout the next academic year. If you think that you could also make a good fit as a Student Officer, then why not work on a manifesto and nominate yourself next year?