Catherine Conneely is a final year Irish and Journalism (Gaeilge agus Iriseoireacht) student from the town of Camus in Connemara, Galway. Conneely has three main aspects to her campaign: DCU community (equality, embracing all faculties and building a better relationship with Campus Res), student support (financial support, sexual health, promoting healthy eating, promoting positive mental health) and social policy (events, a greener campus, sustainability).
Why are you personally running for Welfare Officer?
Personally I’m running because I think that I care for everybody, I will care for every student in DCU and that’s what welfare is all about, it’s about caring for the students and making sure they have the best possible student experience that they can have.
One of the main responsibilities of welfare officer is dealing with helping people with personal problems. What skills and attributes do you have that makes you suitable for this role?
Anyone that knows you will tell you that I’m a real people person, I’m absolutely loving campaign time because it means I can go and talk to anyone and I’ve a reason to talk to people. I love talking to people and I love solving problems, I love being able to help them out and make their situation better, if I can. So I love being able to help and I think I’m good at it, I’m able to do it and I love supporting people if I can and helping them out if they need it.
So this is a two part question. What do you think is the most pressing welfare issue in DCU that needs to be addressed next year and why? Then, how would you deal with if elected?
I think it always comes down to supporting students, I know that’s like a massive issue, well I don’t actually think it is an issue, I think that it’s just an aspect. Like I don’t think that issues are a problem, I think that they just need to be worked on. Everything just needs to be worked on and made better and better because DCU is just constantly growing and it’s a growing university and it’s a fantastic university so I think that just student support is constantly something that has to happen and be permanent, financially, mentally, anything that they need. Students need to know that they can come up here and talk, rant whatever they want to do.
I’d facilitate them in any way I could. If they had any kind of question for me, anything that they needed I would sit and I would listen and I would facilitate them the best way I could. I’m not saying that I have all the answers because no one does but you can facilitate them, to help create an answer for them because sometimes there’s not one and you just have to make it.
There’s been a 100 per cent increase in the doctor’s fee in the Health Centre on campus this year. What do you think about this?
Personally I don’t use the doctor on campus because of the fees, I just think that it’s unnecessary, I understand the convenience of it, I think the fee is something I’d like to investigate. The thing is, it’s a student doctor, there is a lot of students that need to go in there. There’s a reason for everything they do, they’re not doing it because they don’t want to help people but there’s definitely a way, if you were to communicate with them, something could probably be done about it. That’s something that I’d like to investigate.
Imaginary scenario: A student is working part-time to fund their college education but falling behind on coursework as a result. They can’t quit but are stressed trying to balance both. How would you help them?
That’s something I can really relate to, I’ve a part time job and it’s in Galway so I go home every weekend to work and what I would say is talk to your work, see if you can set up something that you’re working every second weekend, so every other weekend you can do college work. Also there’s so much financial support available for students in DCU that a lot of students don’t know about, like the Student Advice Centre. That’s what they’re there for so I’d put them in touch with them, they’re there to facilitate students and help them and give them as much support as they can because life does happen outside of college and everyone knows that but some students might think that it’s all on them but people know that you do have a life outside of college. You need to fund yourself, you need to work, sometimes you have to so there’s support there to facilitate that and to help you do that.
How do you think Lorna Finnegan has performed as Welfare Officer and what would you have done differently if you had been in office this year?
I think Lorna Finnegan is fantastic, she’s so supportive and so good. Her open door policy, her door is always open, she’s always sitting there for tea and chats, whatever you want. I think she’s done very well. There’s a few things she’s done that have really stood out. We raised a lot of money during RAG week, the community week we had. She’s raised a lot of money for charity and she’s made a lot of awareness for certain weeks. One thing I would have done differently, I’m not really sure if Lorna has gone about this but I would love to embrace the facilities as much as I can, embracing all facilities and schools because it’s your Students’ Union. Every student deserves a voice in it, even if you have a heavy academic load you can still be involved as much as you can. So maybe just create more involvement with all facilities and schools, I’m not saying that’s an issue at the moment, I’m just saying that it’s something again that can be worked on and improved constantly, just like everything else.
Why should students vote for you as SU Vice President for welfare?
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