Current DCU Students’ Union (DCUSU) Vice President (VP) for Welfare and Equality, Dean O’Reilly is campaigning to be the next VP for Wellbeing.
Currently, O’Reilly is in charge of student’s sexual health, finance, equality, accommodation and more in his role on DCUSU.
With the new role of VP for Wellbeing, O’Reilly says he will have “a lot more time to actually focus on mental, physical and sexual health, as well as finance.”
If elected, O’Reilly believe he can build off everything he learned this year and more.
This year, O’Reilly established a free pregnancy test postal service for all DCU students and hopes to extend that to include period products.
He feels as though inaccessibility to period products is a “huge concern” for students this year as a lot are faced with unemployment and high fees.
“It’s accomplishable, but it would just need the manpower and things behind it, which if I have to work late every day because I’m sending people period products, then I am willing to do that if it’s worth doing,” said O’Reilly
For physical health, O’Reilly hopes to set up a ‘gymginners’ programme that will give students a free trial of the DCU gym in September and October. Along with this, students will be offered a group of other students to go to the gym with if they are lacking confidence.
“If there’s some other scrawny boys like myself who would be afraid to go to the gym, you don’t have to worry about that,” he explains. “If you want a group of women to go the gym with, then you can join that gymginners programme.”
O’Reilly’s other plans for the role include more consent workshops, with more awareness on toxic relationships to ensure students are aware of warning signs in relationships and know what supports are available to them and for those who might be suffering from domestic abuse.
“The conversation does not start and end with just one consent class and I think as students get to be around each other more and they start dating and hooking up with each other [there should be] a more dedicated campaign focusing on what is a healthy relationship and what are red flags you should look out for,” he said.
O’Reilly also hopes to stop lecturers from giving an unrealistic workload to compensate for the lack of on campus hours. For example, pre-recorded lectures will only last the amount of time indicated on the timetable and remote classes will not be scheduled later than they would if we were on campus.
Speaking on the issues students faced with online learning he said: “those practices, I think, were born out of necessity because there was no other option for the university. Now we have time to plan for those things to make sure they don’t happen again.”
O’Reilly’s campaign also focuses on setting up an emergency fund for students who cannot access student assistance funds or SUSI and international students.
He explains that a number of international students have been unable to access the Garda National Immigrant Bureau (IRP) as it has been closed during lockdown, meaning they can’t get a job and if they leave Ireland they can’t come back.
The emergency fund will help students get by on weeks they are struggling.
O’Reilly believes his combined experience as a psychology graduate and current member of the SU makes him the best candidate for this role. He is trained in mental health, first aid and disclosure and has previously “dipped [his] hand into every element of student life.”
As a student, O’Reilly struggled a lot and knows what it’s like using the DCU counselling service helping him to resonate with other students. During his current vice presidency, he has dealt with a number of sensitive and difficult cases with students.
“I think it’s important that there’s someone in the role that will be able to effectively and compassionately kind of help students,” he said.
Although O’Reilly wasn’t a student this year and didn’t experience online learning, he believes this play to his strengths as he has heard a variety of student experiences from different courses allowing him to view the current issues facing students from a range of vantage points.
Voting for DCUSU elections takes place on March 24th and 25th, information on all candidates can be found at https://www.lead.dcusu.ie/
Image Credit: Dean O’Reilly