Alison Ring is a final year Journalism student. Ring has worked with people with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities, the homeless and ex-prisoners. She believes her experience has prepared her for the role of Welfare Officer.
“I do believe that this job really is something she’s been very driven for. I think she has the experience, the passion and commitment for it,” Shane O’Mahony, Ring’s campaign manager, spoke to The College View. “When you put them together you’ve got someone that’s pretty much tailor made for the position”.
Her manifesto pushes her ideas such as compiling an Accommodation Advisory Service which will be an online guide to finding accommodation, running an Accessibility Awareness Week, Sexual Health Awareness Week, Physical Health Week and consent workshops.
While Ring has expressed that the Class Rep system works, she thinks “there’s been a problem keeping class reps engaged with regards to Class Rep Council.” She stated that the Welfare Officer will have to work closely with the VP Engagement & Development and VP education to “ensure the attendance at CRC is more consistent.” She thinks CRC will be incredibly difficult regarding the amalgamation and that enticing students to travel to another campus for CRC will be a challenge.
On engaging with students on campuses the Welfare Officer will not be based on, Ring wants to create a mobile Students’ Union and get outside of the office and eliminate the “daunting setting for a first year where they come into the hub and the SU are located up the stairs”. O’Mahony said that it’s just about making yourself more approachable and getting out of the office as much as you can. “You want to let them know that you are on the same level with them”.
According to O’Mahony, Ring feels that the previous Welfare Officers have done a very good job of breaking the stigma of mental health. If elected she wants to teach people how to cope with their mental health. “Now we want to teach people how to actually know that it’s okay not to be okay but aswell to actually say I’m not okay and teach people how to cope through workshops, seminars, all that kind of stuff,” O’Mahony said.
Regarding looking after her own mental health, Ring spoke at hustings about the strong support system she has.
With an upcoming referendum for DCU to stay in the Union of Students Ireland over the next couple of years, The College View asked Ring how she feels about the USI. “I’m a USI supporter,” Ring said, “The training they provide to full-time and part-time officers is invaluable”.
When asked how the role of welfare could be improved, Ring said that she doesn’t think it’s a question of improving the role and that the role itself doesn’t need to be altered. “It’s the approach taken that needs to improve,” Ring said. “If my door is always open to students then I shouldn’t be afraid to walk out said door and meet them”.