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Aila Bicer

Candidate for Welfare Officer

What do you want to achieve during your term?

I would like to standardise the welfare support available to students across the colleges and ensure that student voices regarding new potential initiatives are being considered. As highlighted in my manifesto, an initiative I’d really love to start up would be Welfare Anonymous, similar to the fantastic anonymous groups you get in the movies, it would involve us sitting around in a group with some drinks and snacks and discussing our issues and problems or simply having a vent about life. The aim is to let go of some frustration or simply speak of your thoughts in a stream of consciousness to feel a little lighter and better off. Sometimes getting an outside perspective on your problems could help significantly!

What experience do you bring to the role?

Whilst I was doing my undergraduate degree at the University of York, I was course representative for a year. The role involved being available to the student body for support with their academic pursuits as well as voicing student concerns about the course to the academics.

How would you like to collaborate with Welfare Officers in the MCRs?

One of the biggest problems with the collegiate system here at Cambridge is the issue of consistency. Whilst some colleges may have obvious and well thought out services for their students, others may not. It would be great to meet with all Welfare Officers across the colleges so that we may work towards creating a support network that is equally accessible for every student.

Do you think graduate study is intrinsically challenging to students’ wellbeing?

Studying at university, especially Cambridge, will always present significant challenges to a students’ wellbeing. Graduate study in particular can be very intense and isolating at the same – whilst you’re juggling modules and a thesis, you’re also tucked away in your room cramming reading for seminars. There’s always something going on in the social side of things and sometimes it’s hard to perfect that healthy balance of work and play. This can result in students becoming overwhelmed and unable to cope with their workloads! As a result, having Welfare Officers dotted around the university to help students connect with the right people and initiatives to overcome their personal difficulties is a must.

What do you think the primary purpose of the GU Welfare Officer is, given the existence of the full-time CUSU-GU Welfare and Rights Officer?

The welfare of the student community is a complicated and sensitive issue that requires constant attention. I personally feel that the primary purpose of the GU Welfare Officer is to diversify present initiatives and enhance existing programs in order to provide the student body with various convenient platforms to come together and resolve pertinent issues. Despite there being a CUSU Welfare Officer, as well as a Welfare Officers at each college MCR, it helps to collaborate with people from distinct backgrounds to provide optimum conditions for a thorough support network.