Students with Disabilities Officer Manifesto
My name is Haaris and I am running to be your next Students with Disabilities Officer. For context, I am physically disabled, with Congenital Indifference to Pain and Temperature and osteomyelitis – which among other things give me some mobility issues; I have neurological disorders, including dysgraphia, dyspraxia and autism – which give me some sensory issues; and I am mentally ill – suffering from depression, anxiety and OCD.
However, despite this range, I am very aware that there is an even broader variety of disabilities, many of which I will have had little or no experience dealing with. My own experiences alone are not enough to adequately represent the range of disabilities students at Newcastle will have, which is why I will first of all endeavour to hold feedback sessions and drop-ins a couple of times a month in order to find out if there are any issues which need addressing that I am not aware of.
In preparation for running for this role, I have already spoken to my two immediate predecessors and the Disability and Neurodiversity Society (of which I am also a member) to gain some insight into issues which I should address should I be elected.
Following on from that, I also intend to use my communications and marketing experience from previous society positions and working in student media to ensure that my work, campaigns and my assistance is advertised to as many of the disabled student population as possible. Due to Data Protection Laws, it would not be feasible to use already existing databases to send communications to students who are registered as disabled specifically. This will be a project I will refine over the coming months, but I will likely start by using email, social media and welcome-week lectures to send out introductory messages during the first months of the academic year to all students, much in the way Student Support Services initially blanket messages all students who may require support. The emails will allow students who wish to hear more from me to opt-in to a mail list, which I will then use to further promote my activities and presence.
My role as a PTO is more significant and relevant the more I would operate in in conjunction to the needs of the students I represent, hence why engagement will be one of the priorities for me.
Ever since before I came to University, I have been a very active and passionate disability advocate. I have been an active member of Mind the Gap since I was a first year (DaNSoc did not exist then, so MtG was the closest society for disabled students), where I have helped with campaigns, sat on committee and helped with the conference – which last year I introduced panels to, including one on Disability and Mental Health, which I chaired last year and sat on again this year.
Thank you for reading my manifesto, and please vote Haaris #1 4 SWD!