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11th March 2013

Education Officer: Megan Gurney

Megan Gurney tells us why we should vote for her for Education Officer

Why am I running for Education Officer? Because it was uncontested? Because I’d been spending a lot of time in the union and noticed all the STAND flyers? Because I care? Truth be told, it’s all of these. I’ve found myself in my 3rd and final year of university and realised I’m just not quite ready to leave. I have also been much more involved this year, I started up the Neuroscience society which went pretty well and I found something of a passion in representing others. I give all projects my full attention, which initially was a learning curve with organisation, but I’ve got that down to a tee now. A lot of my best decisions have been spontaneous ones, and this is one that I believe will be top of that list. In my second year I had no intention of standing for student rep. I’m a fairly shy person and used to absolutely despise talking to a group of people, but somehow my legs decided that, last minute, I would stand and in front of 30 odd people and mumble a few words about how I’d be the best person for them to tackle problems in the Faculty of Life Sciences. Embarrassingly, I went the most beetroot shade of red imaginable. But it turns out I was pretty good at it. Since then I’ve gone on to be a PASS leader, a student rep, a chair of a society, one of those people that stands up in lectures and shouts at you. Lecture shout-outs are a strange one and never as terrifying as you think they’re going to be, which is good as I’ll be in your lectures no doubt – watch out for me – I’ll be the ginger girl in the big glasses asking you nicely to vote for me. These are the kind of qualities which basically mean I’ve got the stones to approach the university and stand for change.

So that’s a little about me, what about my policies I hear you cry. Well, I’m standing for many of the same things that other Education Officer candidates are; the difference is how I’m going to achieve them. I know that I, and many of my friends, have been annoyed (to put it politely) at how long feedback can take. According to the university feedback for coursework, e-learning work, essays, and anything aside from exams, should take a MAXIUMUM of 15 working days. Note “working days” and how often they get away with bank holidays, university holidays, etc. In my opinion, and pretty much every predecessors opinion that’s just too long and it’s often over that. So how do we change that? Well, it’s pretty simple really – we put a system onto my.manchester where you personally can complain that feedback is taking too long, isn’t good enough or just hasn’t happened – at all. From there the complaints go to heads of faculties and they give official warnings to teaching staff – or even better fines. Staff would definitely stick to deadlines if they were fined a tenner for each student whose work was returned late. Of course fining staff is probably a little optimistic but dealing with the complaints is definitely doable. Along with the feedback system I’d like to implement a “correspondence” complaints system – which will work in a similar way. I.e. if you haven’t heard back from your dissertation/project supervisor for 3 weeks you’ll be able to complain about it and get it sorted. Another of my policies, and I’m going out on a limb here, is to do with mental health awareness as a disability (in the universities eyes). Not everyone will agree with me here, but you are entitled to the same allowances for mental health problems as you would be for dyslexia or a physical disability. This is a personal policy for me and I’m sure Cat will be delighted that I’m trying to do my little bit to reduce stigma so here it goes. I suffered from depression and an eating disorder during my time at Uni, and it nearly destroyed me. It certainly affected my work but I didn’t have any idea about the Universities policy on mental health because it wasn’t advertised – anywhere. I will say though, the counselling service is brilliant and if you are suffering go see them, they have time for everyone.
Some other things I’ll be working towards include; redesign of group space in Alan Gilbert LC, more e-learning, more podcasting, improvements in AV equipment in lecture theatres (specifically Leamington Theatre anyone?)

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