Welfare: Eve Kerton on Access Service cuts and sexual health

Eve Kerton is a final year Communications student from Clonmel, Tipperary. Kerton wants to revamp the role of welfare officer by focusing more on diversity within DCU and issues such as mental and sexual health, self-esteem issues and a greater inclusion of mature students. If elected, she plans to introduce ideas such as GratiTuesdays (a weekly audio recording of students saying what they’re thankful for that day) and Walk ‘n’ Talk (the welfare working group to organise weekly/bi-weekly walks around Albert College).

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Why are you personally running for Welfare Officer?eveposter

I think from day one I have spent every spare hour giving my all to the DCU community, whether it’s choreographing a musical or working on a campaign week, such as SHAG week with the Students’ Union, or any of the other little things I do. I’m constantly promoting and offering opportunities to people to become better, to develop themselves like I was saying, whether it’s something to do with MPS or Dance or Drama, I’m always there to help people be a better version of themselves.

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?

I think definitely one of my attributes is that I’m very trustworthy, I think I’m known for that, that if anyone comes to me that it will stay with me, it won’t leave. If somebody wants to discuss an issue with me, and follow-up, that is absolutely fine. It won’t leave my office, basically. I’m there to offer the help that I think they need. If they’re a little bit wary about approaching a counsellor I will gladly connect the two people. I think that in DCU my role at the minute is a networker, I connect people that I think would benefit each other. I did a lot of work with UStarts, the entrepreneurship programme, and I’ve worked with a lot of societies in connecting those so if I see some work in the student body that I think would benefit the entrepreneurship programme, they might not go for it themselves, they might not have the confidence and I’ll say, ‘look I think this person has done exceptional work, they’ve got a great business plan’ and get the two involved together. So I think I’m definitely a connector, I want to bring people together. As regards personal issues, like you were saying, I think I’m confident and definitely trustworthy as well.

What do you think is the most pressing welfare issue in DCU that needs to be addressed next year and why? And how would you deal with if elected?

I think obviously mental health, sexual health, they’re all constant issues but the most pressing one at the minute, and I find it slightly distressing, is the issue with Access that has just come to life over the past few days (The College View last week revealed that a number of DCU students who receive subsidised accommodation provided by the DCU Access Service could have it revoked). Obviously we’ve had our manifestos ready for the past week but if I can I want to make this an emergency part of my manifesto. It’s an issue that people won’t be able to come to college anymore if money has been taken from their subsidised accommodation. I know myself I’m a recipient of the SUSI grant, if I didn’t have that there’s not a hope that I’d be in college. Just genuinely I couldn’t afford it, my family couldn’t afford it. It’s difficult enough as it is. I’m one of those people who is extremely busy so I don’t have much time to work as well. So this is supporting me. So I have been in that position, I don’t want anybody to have to drop out of college or even worry about that. So if it comes to it I will definitely work towards that to make that not happen.

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?

I myself was absolutely shocked. We had to give campus tours, like the SU executives all of us gave about ten each in orientation week, and it wasn’t until maybe the second day that we were told. We’d been telling people it was €10 to use the doctors and they were like, oh it was changed over the summer. I think it’s disgraceful and should I be put into the position of welfare officer I will do everything in my means to reduce that fee because I know it’s difficult enough to survive day-to-day with paying for food and travel that we don’t need that extra added expense, particularly if you’re not feeling the best. So if I can, I most definitely will.

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?

I would sit them down and introduce them to a budget plan that I have. I want to work out with them where they could lessen their spending, where they could maximise their funds better to make better use of their money. I think a lot of people struggle with part-time jobs, you kind of need one, to live away from home you need a job to live really. So definitely budget plans are one thing and then if they’re in an extreme situation make sure they can avail of the Students’ Assistance Fund because that’s there to be availed of. I don’t think enough people know about that so if they are eligible for that I’ll definitely point them in that direction as well. So budget plans and Student Assistance Fund and just generally follow up on them to make sure that they’re keeping up to date with their funds.

How do you think Lorna Finnegan has performed as Welfare Officer and what would you have done differently if you’d been in office this year?

Every week I sit with Lorna, she plans the student campaigns. I think she’s done an exceptional job. I wouldn’t change what she’s done but I’d work from it, I’d make a few more positive changes. Developing from what she’s done, do a few things differently. So I think regarding sexual health there’s an image around it that it’s just free condoms and lube, and that’s it. Whereas I want to bring it back to basics, what SHAG week should really be about-sexual health awareness week. So we really need to highlight that fact. I heard last week on the news that one in 10 college students has an STI, I think that’s absolutely terrifying. We need to really highlight that fact. Also we need to offer the services that are available for people that have sexual issues. I was saying to people earlier that if you have an issue with sex that it’s the same as having a broken arm. It’s part of your body, you need to keep up to date with it, you need to go to a doctor just like you would if it was any other injury.

Why should students vote for you as SU Vice President for welfare?

Who will you be voting for? Tell us in our poll.

Welfare: Catherine Conneely on student support and doctor’s fees.

Welfare: Ciaran Martin on mental health and RAG week.

Aisling Kett

Image credit: Eve Kerton

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