Interview and analysis: Tom McFerran – SRC VP Student Support candidate


Rebecca Zack
Deputy Editor

Tom’s personal struggles with mental health and familiarity with the needs of the student body will convince many students that he has what it takes to make good on his manifesto: “I know lots of people personally who have struggled, especially in first year, getting in [to uni]. If they can’t make it, there’s no facility in place…to catch up and that can have a detrimental effect on their qualification and the standard of their degree.”

The focus of Tom’s campaign is on the increased provision of male mental-health based events. While he acknowledges the success of mental-health campaigns such as Elephant in the Room, he argues that smaller-scale events and workshops would do more to help people affected and encourage more men to attend and open up.

In terms of sexual health, Tom cites the high incidence of first-year students in the UK affected by STIs and plans to provide information packs for freshers and organise speakers from Sandyford sexual health clinic to run a workshop aimed at freshers.

Tom’s main proposal on counselling services revolves around the implementation of an online portal through which students could access online counselling services, such as CBT courses. His suggestion that counselling services should be reorganised to improve response times will be welcomed by many students, especially around exam and assessment times, when pressure on services is high. However, the cost of providing an online portal for students doesn’t seem to have been assessed, though Tom seems confident that he could secure more funding from the university: “When fees are going up, there’s no reason why support for students shouldn’t be going up as well.”

Tom may struggle to achieve his goal of providing more quiet spaces on campus, given current pressure on-campus space and the success of his rival candidate, Fatemeh Nokhbatolfoghahai, in providing these spaces. He argues that while the two spaces for prayer and reflection on the main campus are fantastic, a similar service should be provided for those on the autistic spectrum, for example, to escape the hustle and bustle of campus.

Overall, Tom seems brimming with enthusiasm for the student community and for his campaign, but his experience as as digital marketing coordinator on the RAG Committee seems much less relevant to the role than that of his rival contender, Fatemeh.