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Sarah Pennington and Gigi Bruschi are jointly re-running for the role of Students with Disabilities Officer. Both in their second year of undergraduate Psychology degrees, they believe there are things they would still like to achieve and that a year has not been long enough to implement all of their manifesto promises. They care strongly about the rights of students with disabilities and there’s “so much more [they] want to do for these students”, which is why they are running for a second term.
Gigi and Sarah believe that “as a minority, students with disabilities are often overlooked”, even among liberation groups; they would like students with disabilities to receive the same amount of attention as LGBT and BME groups.
They cited the joint running as a particular advantage, as they are able to contribute according to their strengths; Gigi is particularly keen on the administrative side of things, while Sarah enjoys going out and speaking to students and university representatives to push for change. They believe their strengths complement each other and that “together, [they] work really well”. Having already been in the role for a year, they “know how the SU works and how to bring about change faster”, which is another strength that sets them apart from the other candidates.
Throughout their first term, they have worked hard to increase the accessibility of communications within the Students’ Union, for example by pushing for image descriptions to be included alongside official university Instagram posts. They have also lobbied the university for increased accessibility across campus and have managed to get textile pavement on the new Edward Roberts Court, which will help those who are visually impaired. They said that even small changes matter because “each small thing helps an aspect of the community that [they] represent”.
A big part of their manifesto for next year is to change the accessibility aspect of the by-laws. Currently, the accessibility at every event has to be organised on a case-by-case basis. Sarah and Gigi would like to see this incorporated and become “a necessity for all affiliated societies and sports teams to maintain accessibility”. They believe that by making accessibility a priority, they could make a real difference to the university experience of students with disabilities. They also cited other practical changes – such as installing a wheelchair-friendly lift in the Union building and organising more inclusive events – as part of their goals for the year ahead. They also feel that the Students with Disabilities Forum needs more visibility as many students with disabilities aren’t even aware that they are entitled to attend it; they will increase its visibility by potentially promoting it through the Disability Services mailing list.
Sarah and Gigi expressed their interest in collaborating with other liberation groups to produce collaborative events that cater to those who are members of more than one minority group. They would also like to push for free bus passes for students with mobility issues – they plan to achieve this by approaching Stagecoach directly. Moreover, Sarah and Gigi have made sure that their campaign is environmentally sustainable – “all our posters are hand-made on recycled cardboard and hung up either with string, or using tape that was already up on the pillars”.
Their fundamental belief is that “accessibility is a human right” and that students with disabilities “deserve to be in this space just as much as anyone else”.