SRC 2012 interviews VPSS: Jess McGrellis

Published

McGrellis is the outgoing president of Glasgow University’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender association but outside of this is a relative newcomer to student politics. This hasn’t held her back however with a good presence online and a lot of buzz around her campaign. Her manifesto has a strong focus on improving the counselling service and equality, talking specifically about an Equality Week and looking at how the SRC and the university deal with issues affecting transgendered students.

Q&A

Guardian: A lot of your manifesto looks at expanding the SRC’s services – notably buses for safety and the counselling service. Given the highly restricted budgets that both the SRC and the University are operating under what can be done to improve these services while spending very little or potentially less money?

McGrellis: As the budget is so restricted it is encouraging to think that money is not being wasted by this institution. However, I wholeheartedly believe that any money put towards expanding these services would be money well spent. With regards to the bus service after Hive or Cheesy Pop, I think the SRC could plausibly be charging a small fee (as little as it can afford) for the use of this service as it would still be cheaper than getting a taxi and undoubtedly safer. As far as the Counselling Service is concerned, this is a crucial university service and they are not being funded as well as they could be. They have a great staff who have made a great deal from what is available to them, but problems such as their long waiting list cannot be solved without further funding. This does not have to be a great amount, but any money available would be well used and make significant changes to this valuable service.

Guardian: Given the relatively low attendance of both RAG and Health Week, do you think an appetite exists for another SRC theme week?

McGrellis: I don’t think the low attendance during RAG Week is to do with student apathy. I think if you turn to examples of RAG Week at other universities it is apparent how big this week could gradually become with more advertising and direct appeal at halls of residence for example. Health Week is slightly different. I know from running a social, welfare and campaigning Association on campus that the sad fact is that the welfare events are always going to have the lowest turnout. I would therefore suggest scaling back Health Week, not because it isn’t important, but because it has greater limitations. One of the great things about my vision for Equality Week is that while the events would concern the welfare of our students, they would also be political and topical and this would spark interest. Furthermore, I am confident that working with welfare societies across campus would immediately increase turnout, as there would be a obvious groups of students to directly advertise to, and I’m sure they would support their society by turning out.

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

McGrellis: You can never have enough places to obtain free condoms on campus. I say this with a wee smile but in all seriousness it’s very true. The SRC should most certainly be promoting their own free condom service; it is simple and effective, it doesn’t cost anything and is not particularly time consuming. Moreover, the SRC should be ensuring that the range of information available on campus, covering all aspects of sexual health and relationships and guaranteeing it is representative of the needs of all our students.

Insider Odds

2/1
While not favourite going into the race McGrellis has a dedicated following in GULGBT and the capability to win if she can moblise her support well. However with a well organised and popular opponent in Ellie Munro she will need to perform well come the election.