Meet your Equality and Diversity Officer!
Do you ever wonder what all the different positions are in SUSU? We want to make things clearer for you so you’re aware of the different officials who work or volunteer here. We have 7 Sabbatical Officers, 33 Student Leaders, 4 Student Trustees and 41 Councillors, who all play a massive part in the running and improving of SUSU so that students have a better time at the University of Southampton. We’ll be releasing Q&A’s of individual Student Leaders, Councillors and Student Trustee, so you can find out more about them and their role! Sam was elected with 86% of the student vote as E&D Officer in the 2014 Spring Elections! Find out more about Sam and his passion for E&D below.
Sam Bailey – Equality and Diversity Officer
Tell us a bit about yourself Sam!
Hello! I’m Sam, I’m 20 and study zoology (yes it’s an actual subject!). In my spare time I volunteer at Colchester Zoo in Essex – it’s not uncommon to find me with a lemur perched on my head…
Can you explain equality and diversity in a fun way?
Equality and diversity is so great because it’s about all of us! It’s so important that we make sure everyone, no matter their background, feels comfortable and able to get involved in SUSU. If something isn’t working for a certain group of students we can change things – E&D has a real, direct impact on people’s time at university. That’s what makes it so exciting!
What interested you in this role?
Equality and diversity can often mean lots of jargon, surveys and form filling. Whilst it’s still important, as Equality and Diversity Officer I get to make sure that everything we do stays relevant to students, and that student-led E&D focusses attention to the problems and challenges that people face whilst studying in Southampton. The work we do in our committee meetings, at Union Council and in running events all comes together to make a real, positive change.
This is a big question, but do you think SUSU is equal and/or diverse?
Of course SUSU is diverse! As a student community we have people coming to join us from all over the world, each with their individual stories that make them who they are. But E&D is about more than this: our job is to make sure we celebrate this diversity, learning about each other’s backgrounds, cultures, beliefs and so on. Every student, regardless of their background, should feel safe and included within SUSU, with true equality of opportunity. When we do things like passing policies protecting people against sexual harassment, or improving how Trans* people are able to use SUSU facilities they may seem like small measures, but they all add up to vastly improve how inclusive we are. If we don’t strive to keep engaging all sections of the student body, making sure they are involved in making decisions about how things are run then SUSU will just become irrelevant.
How do you realistically think you can make SUSU more equal and diverse?
The most important thing is to make sure everyone feels able to get involved in SUSU in as many ways as possible – from joining societies, using our facilities to standing in elections to change the way our students’ union is run. If a more diverse group of people is running the union we can make sure everyone’s voice is heard, with a wider range of skills and ideas to make it the best it can be. There is such a huge range of voices and opinions out there that it’s an incredible waste not to hear them! Passing policies, monitoring diversity in our community and running events are all really valuable things we do – but the real change happens when students are engaged in running their union. Challenging attitudes, improving the way things are run, raising awareness of inequality are how we will see real results in our community.
Do you have any media streams that students can follow?
You can check out all the exciting things the Equality and Diversity Committee get up to on our Facebook page (fb.com/susueanddcommittee) or by following us on Twitter (@susueandd)
How can people get involved with equality and diversity at SUSU?
Absolutely anyone is welcome to come along to one of our meetings, you can find out when and where they are on our Facebook page or on Twitter or alternatively by emailing me at email@example.com. Your voice really does matter in deciding how SUSU does things, it’s vitally important that you make sure it’s heard.