VP Welfare & Equality Candidate Jason Bolton: Improved counselling services, appeals for accommodation fines and placement support packs

BY Aaron Gallagher

"I've had experiences with anxiety and depression in DCU and throughout the whole time the SU and in particular the Welfare role has been such a great resource and I just want to give that back to DCU students."

Jason Bolton is a 22-year-old Analytical Science student running for the position of VP for Welfare & Equality in this year’s Students’ Union Elections. He is running his campaign based on improving mental health counselling services, a bigger promotion of sexual health as well as addressing the issue of fines in on-campus student accommodation.

Bolton believes that his own experience of using the Welfare Officer during his time in DCU makes him a qualified candidate to give back to the students of the college.

“Over the last four years in DCU I’ve had the best fours year of my life, but I’ve also gone through some really tough times losing close family members”, he said. “I came out when I was in second year and although the response was generally positive, there was still a few negative responses I received.

“I’ve had experiences with anxiety and depression in DCU as well and throughout the whole time the SU and in particular the Welfare role has been such a great resource and I just want to give that back to DCU students.

“(The role) is something that has personally affected me and touched my life and I want to give back to that.

Bolton believes the position is based on five key pillars: promoting good mental health, good sexual health, good physical health, helping students find accommodation and to fight for equality for all students of different ethnicities.

His key manifesto ideas for next year are to secure a new and improved accommodation page to ensure priority accommodation for DCU students in the local area; an improved online platform for counselling services which recognise the waiting period between consultations; welfare stations in the library so students can avail of resources such as tampons and pads at inconvenient hours; and an appeals system for fines in campus accommodation.

“At the minute there is no appeals system for larger fines and I think that is wrong,” he said.

“Personally some of my friends have been in situations where they have been hit with a €200 fine, they’ve asked for the evidence against them and it wasn’t given. I think Campus Residence would like to work with us on producing a fine appeals system.

“It’s that we are going to tell Campus Residence that you can’t fine people, it’s that you can’t give people €200 fines and not allow them to have their fair say back.”

On providing resources to students at late hours, Bolton said he would like to establish Welfare Stations in locations such as the library.

“The Welfare Officer has supplies of tampons, pads, condoms and lube and also information on 24-hour support helplines. But after 5.00pm when they are out of the office, where do you get these resources?”, he said.

“If a girl, for example, needs a sanitary towel and it’s 1.00am in the library and there are no shops open in the Glasnevin area, I want them to be available within the library so that if anyone is stuck that they can get access to these supplies.”

When asked by The College View why students should give him their vote over the other candidates running for VP for Welfare and Equality, Bolton said that his combination of experience with and knowledge of the role, time served as a faculty rep and his own personal drive makes him best suited for the position.

He said: “I feel that I genuinely care the most. I’m experienced in the SU but it’s not going to make you a good Welfare Officer. For this position I believe that you have to be driven and you have to care about the five main aspects of the role.

“You have to care about people, which I do. I think that you need to have previous experience with the topics that I have mentioned and I feel like I do have this experience, I know how it feels to go through bad times.

“I also know what it feels like to go through good times in DCU and although we are all going to go through good and bad times in DCU, I think for a Welfare Officer you need someone that is going to care for you and get you through it.”

Aaron Gallagher

Image Credit: Aaron Gallagher