Sarah Behan: Safety and mental health come first

DCU SU Elections

I feel like there’s a disconnect between people who haven’t come through the services and people like me who use them”.

Sarah Behan is a final year English and Philosophy student in St Pats. Her focus whilst campaigning is on mental health protocols and the safety of students.

Behan suffers from anxiety and depression and suffered panic attacks since the age of 7. She’s very open about her mental health and explains this in her podcast ‘The Lovely Spread-Mental Health Week’. She wants to be a point of contact for students. Having availed of DCU’s mental health services before, she wants to make sure students are aware of everything thats available to them.

One of Behan’s biggest ideas, mentioned in her manifesto is to invest in personal alarms for students. She said they provide reassurance “even just to have them in your hand so people know that there’s something there”.

Behan has one herself, which has a torch on one end and an alarm at the other, that lets out a screaming noise to notify people close by. She aims to shop sustainably and in bulk, but there’s been no research yet into the cost of these alarms.

She also plans to enforce safety by bringing DCU’s safe zone app to the surface again. The app was released in 2019, but many students don’t know that the app is available. It can be used to alert the University Security team by pressing one of three buttons in the app-emergency, first aid, or help.

Being a student in St Pats, Sarah has focused much of her campaigning on that campus, as she feels more comfortable there and thinks there’s a disconnect from St Pats and All Hallows with the Glasnevin campus. For example, safety in All Hallows is one of her concerns “There’s a big park in the middle of the campus. There are children coming in and out, there needs to be more security there like there is in Glasnevin”.

The final year student is pushing for time slots for both medical and counselling appointments to be displayed online and appointments to be made online, rather than via phone call. It would help people speak up about their problems and “take the shame away from talking about STIs” according to Behan.

“I think it’s very outdated that we need to ring to make appointments on campus”.

Despite having never been on placement herself, placement is still an area Behan wants to watch out for, with her plans including setting up online hubs for students on placement to stay connected. For this, she wants to work with the VP for academic life.

Behan wants to continue many protocols from last year, like consent workshops and free supply of period products, but just further improve on them. She wants consent workshops to take place at the very beginning of semester one, rather than toward the end.

In terms of period products, she wants to ensure that they are supplied in both womens and mens toilets so that students can use whatever bathrooms they feel comfortable with.

However, she believes it’s time for a change in the union “I think over the past few years the union has gone soft. If something can’t be done, I’m not taking that when student’s safety has to be protected,” Behan, who is running against four other candidates told The College View.

Louise Hickey

Image Credit: Sarah Behan