Clare O’Connor is currently a third year Science student in UCD and is one of two candidates competing to become UCDSU Welfare Officer for 2015/16.
Speaking to The College Tribune Clare speaks of her passion for helping others as one of the main reasons she chose to run for Welfare Officer. “I’ve suffered from mental health difficulties myself and something I’m really really passionate about is breaking the stigmas that can often cause people their lives. I will go in there with my main priority being to break the stigma around mental health.” It is this passion coupled with her empathy that O’Connor believes makes her the right person for the job.
Although having already been involved with campaigns on campus such as ‘PleaseTalk’ and the ‘UCD Talks’ campaign O’Connor seeks to introduce new campaigns and initiatives such as the ‘Welcome Home’ campaign and ‘Equality Training’ for all officers. One of these new initiatives also includes her ‘Campus Wide Drug Alert’ campaign. O’Connor phrases this campaign as a “no judgement” campaign and wants to be realistic in her approach. She wants students to feel as though they can come to her to let her know if there are dangerous drugs in circulation so she can tell other students in campus. “I just want to educate them [students] so that if they do do them, they’re doing them in the safest way possible.”
O’Connor also discusses the stretched counselling services in UCD and lists them as something “UCD just aren’t being co-operative about”. “They have this policy that they’re an educational institution and that it’s not their sole duty to provide health care for students, so they’re being incredibly uncooperative about that so far.” To aid this situation O’Connor will be looking to get in touch with counselling services around the UCD area and enquire if they would be in a position to offer student discounts.
O’Connor is also aiming, if elected, to bring back SHAG Week, something that has been missing from campus this year. By doing this O’Connor is seeking to engage “every single student on campus” and “get people talking”. O’Connor wants SHAG Week to focus primarily on consent and also wants to get STI testing subsidised on campus, although she remains unsure if this is feasible.
Unlike her opponent O’Connor makes specific mention to Mature Students in her manifesto, seeking to find a space for a Mature Student common room on campus. O’Connor has already looked into this and has sought out the area which once housed Cafe Brava in the Old Student Centre as a strong possibility.
O’Connor is seeking to attract students who “wouldn’t really be into the Union” through her use of different forums to take in students thoughts on different topics and issues they would like to see addressed. This, in O’Connor’s opinion, would lead them to have a voice on topics such as mental health without having to be involved in the Union.
O’Connor states her manifesto outlines only things she believes she can do, if elected. “My goal in my manifesto was to be as realistic as possible and not make any promises I can’t keep.” She seeks to both introduce new campaigns as well as bringing back old ones, such as ‘Res Rights’ and throughout all of this making the students and their welfare her primary focus.