Q&A with your disabled rep

In October, we’ll be holding an election for BME Students’ Rep (Black Minority Ethnic), Faith Students’ Rep, Mature Students’ Rep and EU Students’ Rep. All of these elected reps will sit on Student Council (the Union’s decision making body) and help improve student life for these groups of people. Rebecca Farren, the disabled students’ rep talks about why you should stand and vote in these elections.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Rebecca and I’m a second year Sociology student. I was disabled students’ rep last year and I look forward to continuing in the role this year. When I’m not campaigning, I love watching films and seeing live music. My favourite band is McFly.

What they enjoy about your role as an Equality Rep?

I love being able to represent disabled students and to help them when they have problems; this is all achieved by being able to sit on Student Council and have a say on Students’ Union policy. It’s empowering to sit in high level meetings with university staff to make sure that students have a voice when big decisions are being made. Using my skills, I love being able to campaign to make things better for disabled students. I get to work with some amazing people and I’ve made loads of new friends since I started the role.

What is the best thing you’ve achieved or want to achieve?

My biggest achievement so far would definitely be representing disabled students at NUS Disabled Students’ Campaign Conference 2013. It was the biggest gathering of disabled students in the UK ever and its main aim was to decide national campaign policy for the year. There was also some great workshops and guest speakers. It was such a privilege to be trusted to represent Northumbria’s disabled students on a national stage.

Why did you stand to be an Equality Rep?

I had already done quite a lot of advocacy work, representing the views of disabled children and young people on the youth board of a national charity. I enjoyed that so much and I was worried I wouldn’t get the opportunity to do that anymore once I started university, so as soon as I heard there was an opening for the disabled students’ rep post I jumped at the chance.

Why should people vote?

Voting is so important! It means that you get to have a say on who represents you at the highest level in the Students’ Union and you can decide whose campaign ideas you like best. The more votes a candidate gets the more influence they have when asking the university to make changes. If you vote for someone and then they don’t deliver on what they promised you can hold them to account and ask them why. Even if you are a final year student, the higher the turnout in the elections, the higher the university will be on the league tables so it is still worth it!

Nominations open from 16th of September to 9th October. Voting is from 14th to 16th October.