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8th March 2013

Diversity Officer: Marijn Ceelen

Marijn Ceelen tells us why we should vote for her for Diversity Officer

Hi, I’m Marijn and I’m standing for diversity officer. I stand because I believe the union should increase accessibility, challenge inequality and celebrate liberation. If elected, I want to change some policies, and create awareness throughout the university and start from the beginning of the student experience.

My first point is the increase of inclusion of international students, at university, at the union and in the halls of residence. I want to organise more events to celebrate the various celebrations our student body celebrate at home, and advertise these to a wider audience so everyone can enjoy them. Halls of residence should have more events, held throughout the year to include the international students and promote integration whilst staying respectful to cultural values and differences. Each RA team should have one reserved place for an international student, who can give input into what events they want to do, and what kind of trips are desired. I want to change the focus from alcohol to enjoyment during Fresher’s, and I want to look into offering non-alcohol flats in the Halls of Residence.

My second point is about the zero tolerance policies that are in place at the union. Welcome packs should contain information on these, and provide information so students are aware of them before even arriving at Manchester. I want to hold workshops tailored to the various diversities, and announce these in the welcome packs as well as making them available on the union website. I want to create a week full of workshops (Diversity Week?) and films where we focus on all issues, whether related to race, religion, LGBTQ or students with disabilities. I want to enrich the student experience for all students, and make people more aware of the amazing diverse community we have here at Manchester.

I want to work closely together with the careers service, for a couple of reasons. This year we had a part time jobs fair, but I believe this can be bigger and better, tailored for those students in need of a part time job to be able to support themselves, such as students from a lower economic background or post-graduate students. I also want to help them liaise with the DSO to cater specifically to students with disabilities.

My other points relate to specific groups of students, so I will list them here:

Post-graduate students: I want to support the organisation of the society, to ensure a longer time consistency. As many PG students only study here for one or two years, it is important to keep the flow going and encourage student involvement, by organising more diverse events and focus on careers and employability. These events can be advertised in the welcome packs, to make all PG students aware of the society, in increase involvement.

Mature students: this group is often forgotten, and I believe they are in need of more support. This can be easily achieved through a mature society, where they can socialise, organise events and maybe even set up a mentoring scheme for other students.

Faith students: I want to start an interfaith committee, to provide a platform for discussion and joint events. I also want to assess the amount of prayer rooms, and if necessary, increase that amount to provide for all students of all religions. I also want to assess the regulations in place for faith students in the halls of residence, and maybe look to reinstate single-sex flats in the cheaper halls.

Disabled students: I want to increase accessibility around campus, whether this is about wheelchair access, or the availability of online material that is easier to read. I also want to start, in coalition with the elected reps, a disabled history month.

LGBTQ: I want to increase the amount of events held at the union, and work closely with the reps for their campaigns and to organise a bigger LGBTQ history month. I want to fight for gender neutral titles.

Black students’ campaign: I want to support this campaign to become bigger and more present, to enrich the student experience through events and a bigger Black history month. This could be achieved through lectures, speeches, films, or any form of social that might be suitable


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