SRC 2012 interviews VPSS: Ellie Munro

Published

Currently the QMU’s Campaigns and Charities Convener and with a background in volunteering as long as an elephants trunk; Munro is the candidate with the most directly relevant experience to the position of vice-president student support. She is also unique in this in potentially having the support of two of campus’s most active constituencies for her campaign, both the QMU and of the university’s organised left. It is Guardians understanding that is was Munro’s candidacy that led to the broad left slate “Our Glasgow” into not putting up a candidate in this category.

Q&A

Guardian: A strong focus of your manifesto is on mental health provision – with the counselling service oversubscribed and money tight what do you think are the realistic and practical measures to improve student’s access to these services?

Munro: It’s not just a problem at Glasgow, of course, but the difficulty of getting seen can have a real impact on people’s willingness to get help when they need it. Yes, funds are tight, but that’s no reason not to ask. It’s a key student service – a key service for anyone – and despite improvements with the lunchtime drop-in service, it’s currently not meeting student needs. But it’s also a service that exists in a wider context. There should be signposting to other services across Glasgow, ones that cater for specific needs, and ones that might have more availability.

Guardian: With the Fraser building doing home sexual health kits, condoms and leaflets on a range of sexual health issues from around campus what can the SRC do to improve it’s services in this area?

Munro: It’s about normalising what there already is and looking at where there are gaps in the services currently offered. I don’t think take-home testing is particularly well publicised, and if it’s hidden way, it does nothing either to encourage use or to tackle stigma around sexual health. There are other tests that can be done in a clinical setting, that are quicker and easier than what’s currently available -the 15 minute fast-test for HIV springs to mind- as well as other options that can be explored. Then on the health promotion side, well, I’ve currently got one leaflet for men who like men and women, next to nothing for gay women, and nothing for bisexual women or trans people at the Free Condoms stall at the QM. I’m sure that there’s something out there that I’m missing, but if there’s not, we should use the expertise that we have on campus to make sure there is.

Guardian: You talk about housing issues in your manifesto, what can the SRC realistically do to stop poor landlords exploiting students when groups like Kohli Properties & Grant Management seemingly ignore its public condemnations?

Munro: This is a long-game issue. The expiration of certain bits of housing legislation in 2014 gives us a really good opportunity to campaign for something better. Something that actually works. I’ve been in touch with a couple of housing campaigns recently, who are really keen for student involvement in compiling case studies of bad landlords, to put to the Government, to lobby for change. We need to make sure that we’re engaging with these sorts of campaigns, and with those against illegal registration fees demanded by landlords and letting agencies, as they often disproportionately affect students. We need to make sure that all students are aware of the issues and the support that they can get, through the SRC and other organisations.

Guardian: On increasing transparency, do you think that the SRC is limited in its ability to be transparent by student apathy?

Munro: There are some people who come to Glasgow just to get a degree, and feel that the SRC doesn’t affect what they do. There are some people who get stuck in the bubble of student politics, at whatever end of campus. And of course there are some in the middle who dip in and out, when there are events that are relevant to them or exciting news stories. The key thing for me is to be completely upfront about what we do, make sure that everyone knows what we offer, and how we bridge the gap between students and management, and to involve students as much as possible in key decisions, be that what charity we’re supporting or what changes we should make to key services.

Insider Odds

2/1
Munro is a strong candidate with a good understanding of of the role and a broad and well organised base of support. However McGrellis is a strong opponent and can’t be ignored.