Lulah Strathearn Brady is the Undergraduate Education Officer and an English and Film Studies student. Unlike the other Full-time Officers who graduated in the summer, Lulah is taking time out of her course to be a full-time officer for the Students' Union. She likes going to the beach and hanging out with her friends and being politically active.
Q: What does the Undergraduate Education Officer do for students?
A: I am there to advocate for the educational needs and requirements of undergraduate students, to change the system so that it benefits students more and to help with the University to make that happen. I am really passionate about issues that affect students and I am looking forward to working with students to improve education needs for their benefit!
Q: What accomplishments do you want to achieve over the next year?
I think the biggest achievement that we, as an officer team, could do is to get more students vocally involved in the Students' Union. I feel like a lot of students feel like the Union doesn't represent them, which I think is more of a communication issue rather than an actuality. We are here for all students; we love education and we love students - that's why we do what we do.
Personally, my big thing for the year will be exceptional circumstances and reasonable adjustments. Exceptional circumstances is the procedure used when unforeseen events and circumstances prevent students from being able to submit or attend assessments and reasonable adjustments are made for students with physical or mental disabilities which impair a student’s ability to complete their assessments.
I think a lot of students I have talked to have experienced some unfair things in that process and we need to work with the University to change that and make that more student-led and more kinder to students. The exceptional circumstances system doesn't account for various different situations, such as different family structures.
Q: How do you plan on improving the reasonable adjustments process?
A: The first major goal is getting a disability expert sitting on the panel for deciding on reasonable adjustments. A panel of people make decisions on reasonable adjustments for students who request them, but currently a disability expert does not sit as part of that. I think it is really important to have, as a disability expert will be better equipped to understand the needs of those applying for reasonable adjustments, and I will aim to have one put into place as soon as possible. The process ought to be made more flexible and more focused and I have got a number of plans around that for the year ahead.
Q: In your manifesto, you propose extending the Union's gender-inclusive language policy university-wide. Why is gender inclusivity important and why should the policy be rolled out across campus?
A: The gender-inclusive language policy aims to promote the inclusion of non-binary and transgender people. The policy asks people to use gender neutral language if a person’s pronouns haven’t been stated, and for a person’s pronouns to be respected once stated. and has been implemented in the Union by students. It was created by students and it is clearly a matter that is important to them.
What I would say is, for those who resist it, it's a very small alteration to how they speak, whereas for those that are in favour of it and are affected by it, it is a huge deal and an important thing for their wellbeing. I don't see why you wouldn't make minor adjustments in order to make sure other people aren't suffering or experiencing unnecessary stress. I think we are a very open population of students and it is really important for student welfare that we do that.
In terms of extending it across the University, I think it is something that we can lobby them on in relevant committees, and hopefully it'll be quite an easy win, but we'll see.
Q: How will creating links with the community to provide wider access to education benefit current and future students?
A: The University will need to expand into town soon because we don't have enough space on campus and hopefully they will be opening a library space off-campus. What I would like to do is open a portion of that up to the public, have student volunteers and mentors, people who have experienced applying to University and can help others through it and reach out to marginalised groups in the community. The student volunteers would get valuable experience from that and we'd also be helping potential students through granting homeless and marginalised people access to education, creating a more diverse student population, which benefits everyone. University is about experiencing all the different walks of life and having a diverse group of friends and a diverse population is useful for all of us.
Q: What advice would you give a new student starting at Sussex?
A: Make sure to get involved with as many societies and sports clubs as possible - it’s a great way to meet new people and find new interests outside of your course! Have fun and make sure you keep on top of your welfare because your mental health is the most important thing. The Student Life Centre and the Student Support Unit are there for you if you need them and if you don't know where to go, come to the Union and we'll point you in the right direction. Making sure that you get the help and support you need from the start of your course will set you on the right track to success!