Candidates are then quizzed on aspects of their manifestos by moderator Alex Gervás. Alex asks Briana: You mentioned in your manifesto that you want to "support students through covid by providing medical assistance and information on keeping healthy and vaccine programs". What type of medical assistance do you expect to provide?
Briana notes how quickly situations can change and it's important to keep in mind that the COVID situation may still be very relevant next academic year. She explains she wants to continue the LFD rapid testing currently offered, and look into on-site vaccine administration, as well as offering information about COVID and continue providing health packs.
Tinisha is asked about her intention to provide specific counselling for the effects of COVID, bereavement and substance abuse. Would this involve hiring new counsellors, or training the ones already on campus?
Tinisha responds that her approach would probably include both, and explains that this policy is drawn from knowledge that many students have been turned away in the past due to a lack of available counsellors. Aleisha agrees, but notes that it's important to be realistic about budget - it's important to keep good levels of staffing within the counselling service, but also how to use other services such as the Student Advice Centre can ask in order to signpost students to relevant sources of help. Brianna then agrees with both points, and furthers this with a policy to implement a "one year priority package" where we pump funding into wellbeing services for one year as there is currently an influx of mental health issues.
Moderator Alex asks Aleisha about the manifesto point about "representing students living in all parts of the city and further afield", and how Aleisha will ensure that they are represented?
Using existing structures like the community reps and commuting students officer, but offering support from a paid, Sabbatical Officer, to create more channels for people living outside of Newcastle. Consultation will be an important element to this.
Funso is asked to elaborate on his holistic mental health strategy, by moderator Alex, and Funso explains that this will entail a larger reach of services which exist already, by helping people who are reluctant to access wellbeing service, and also "trying to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves".
The final candidate, Alex, is asked about a manifesto point, which is to "increase the support given to students who are differently-abled and ensure they receive tailored support" [note: a ex-disability Officer requested candidates to stop using the phrase "differently-abled"]. Alex responds that increasing support offered to peer-to-peer programmes and student societies on campus as these are the first-line of getting to students on campus, to discover current issues affecting disabled students.
POLICIES TO ENSURE AN INTERSECTIONAL APPROACH
You can watch the debate yourself through the recorded livestream below, and find Aleisha Stansfield, Alex Nderi, Briana Gordhan, Funso Adeyekun, Mohammed Al-Daloo, and Tinisha Osu's manifestos on the NUSU website.
Voting opens on the 1st March and 50p per voter will also be donated and split between three charities.