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“I’ve got the nerve and integrity to fight for EWD”
Rosalia O’Reilly – Pendle College
Rosalia O’Reilly’s involvement in Equality, Welfare and Diversity (EWD) affairs far precedes her arrival at Lancaster. At the age of eight she was elected to the steering group of Article 12, a national children’s organisation, and was involved in lobbying the government to illegalise smacking children. At her secondary school, she ran its Amnesty International club for two years.
If elected, O’Reilly’s first port of call is to address sexual health issues in an effort to “get rid of the stigma surrounding being checked for STIs.”
Whilst the job entails working with the Students’ Union, O’Reilly is eager to establish stronger links with the University. While the University offers good provision for EWD issues, such as Nightline and the disabled access fund, she stated that LUSU needs to “make sure that people know about them.” In addition to this, O’Reilly intends to ensure that “every new building and refurbishment is checked for suitable disabled access.” That such checks have been absent is exemplified by Pendle bar, which is now having disabled access installed as a result of O’Reilly’s lobbying in her current role as Pendle College’s Vice President of Equality and Welfare.
As well as disability issues, O’Reilly oversaw the organisation of ‘Lancaster Says Relax’, an entertainment evening held to help alleviate stress. “Mental health is a very big issue that does not get given enough consideration,” said O’Reilly, who hopes to address this by organising campaigns where students “take on a personal responsibility to make sure their friends are looked after.”
O’Reilly also sits on the Your LGBTQ* committee and “would like to ensure that nothing happens to compromise them, and that we retain a CCO for their representation.” She also holds presidency over the ‘Student Assembly against Racism’; a group that she says “has been very useful during local elections.”
As well as her own campaigns, O’Reilly wishes to run with existing campaigns and improve their longevity, such as the ‘Easy Tiger’ campaign, which advocates safe drinking. She believes that while it is strong, it “got on a lull after Fresher‘s Week, and that shouldn’t be the case” adding that “you can’t just endorse a campaign and then let it drop off the edge.”
Once again, the issue of communication between the officer and the student proves to be a key issue. O’Reilly is confident that the introduction of a fortnightly EWD ‘surgery’ will improve interaction and accessibility; “unless you provide a forum for communication, it’s not going to happen.”
Strong teamwork is also paramount, and O’Reilly plans to enforce this with a weekly check-in session with the head of every college EWD.
“I’ve got enough nerve and integrity to fight for EWD issues” she said, “in short, I’m a Gryffindor.”