The main focus of Lauren “Shoogle” McDougall’s manifesto is on student-led support initiatives, which is encouraging, given her acknowledgement of the increased strain being put upon student services, under “increased pressure and flatlining budgets”. Her solutions, therefore, are to emphasise what can be done by students and fostering self-perpetuating programmes which she believes will be both effective and cost-efficient. These include her proposals for suicide prevention training, the befriending scheme, and the sexual violence prevention workshops, which will all take place outwith the already stretched budget of Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS). She notes in her interview that the onus should not be on students, however given the improbability of more funding for CAPS, and citing student demand for peer support services across campus, it seems an imperfect but workable solution.
McDougall also notes the importance of support for carers and other groups of students at greater risk of dropping out. While this is an admirable goal, the specifics as to how this would be achieved aren’t outlined by McDougall, potentially as a result of not wanting to commit herself to spending promises she might not be able to keep.
On the issue of proposed suicide prevention training schemes, McDougall prioritises the training of teaching staff firstly, then student groups and societies with an interest in student welfare. Like the sexual violence prevention workshops, this will be a self-perpetuating programme, which, while potentially time-consuming, is cost-efficient and covers the most important bases first and foremost.
In her role as GULGBTQ+ President and member of the Gender and Sexual Diversity Group has styled herself as a champion for underrepresented groups on campus and it is clear that she will seek to continue this if elected VP of Student Support. She acknowledges the limitations of what is possible in this role, but given the extent of her experience and the workability of her proposals she seems like the sure choice.
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