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Lex Elliott has been involved with the Students’ Union and particularly liberation groups for four years, and intends to use that passion and experience to improve welfare for more people.
Elliott was the LGBTQ+ Welfare officer for two years – where she held welfare hours to discuss issues with students. On top of this, she was a LUSU Councillor, as well as running many campaigns and sitting on lots of committees. This mix of liberation activity and engagement with broader LUSU systems has allowed Elliot a unique view into the many ways the Union works, as well as the ways the role of Welfare and Community function within it. Because of her liberation focus, she wants to make sure that students from a variety of minority groups are not neglected by the Union, as they can often struggle to find student groups and the Union difficult to get involved in.
On what she thinks is the most important issue that students currently face, she said that the rise in tuition fees is a huge issue, especially as it disproportionately affects international and post-graduate students. “This just makes education really inaccessible which is just not acceptable, so I do intend to fight for that and keep the fees where they are. Or lower would be great, but not likely.”
Elliott believes that one of the most important aspects of the role is to facilitate the work of the Part Time Officers to make sure that campaigns are run cohesively and that there is support for both the PTOs and the FTOs. She also said that consultation with students is important when prioritising work and campaigns.
Elliott talked about working extensively with the International Part Time Officer to improve engagement with international students, and would consult with them early on as she believes that Freshers’ Week is crucial in making the university experience less overwhelming and encouraging new students to be more involved with the Union. In addition, she spoke about the importance of holding the University to account on its commitment to keep Lancaster international in the post-Brexit world.
Her manifesto mentioned working to help students from low income families, so she elaborated about the challenges of the costs of living, especially how many expenses can be a surprise to students before they arrive. As well as this she wants to continue current President Rhiannon Jones’s work on having more benefits linked to accommodation costs. She also talked about wanting to introduce free printing across all departments, particularly for dissertations, that also require binding.
On making sure that the new University harassment policy supports students, she said, “I think every committee that deals with it has to have preferably students on it, but if not, at least someone from LUSU. There should always be a voice there and always consultation. If any policy is made without consultation then it won’t be good policy.” She focuses on how policy should be built around student support, something that has been overlooked in past occurrences of harassment on campus.
Elliott believes that after a year in use, the UniSafe app on iLancaster should be reviewed in order to assess effectiveness and allow for feedback on new improvements.
Trivia: Elliott recalled all six liberation groups: LGBTQ+, and Women+, BME, Disabilities, International, and Mature, and named all the PTOs except the Mature Students’ Officer. (She also noted that the Union does not currently have a Disability Officer).