It’s a return to familiar territory for this year’s VP Communities candidate, Jess Reid, who was narrowly beaten to the post in 2020. She spoke candidly, to Brig, about how she lacked “the skills and experience to do the job well” in her last campaign and learned the “value of experience” Since then she has built up a wealth of experience and connections through various societies including SSHES (Stirling Sexual Health and Education Society), for which she is a co-founder.
Her campaign extends across a wide range of areas including clubs and societies, housing and student living, health and wellbeing, and sustainability.
One of her more eye-catching policies is the plan to start a community fridge, open 24/7, for students. The idea developed during her time as a stock-controller at Tesco where she witnessed “a ridiculous amount of food waste”, citing one particular example where “120 packets of sausage” were wasted.
She acknowledged that the Green & Blue space is considering the need for a community fridge but she is keen to stress the 24hr aspect, wanting to “ ensure that it is accessible to students all the time”.
She spoke of her experience and connections, having already raised the idea with Tesco, and her knowledge of how a community fridge would have to be run.
Another key part of her platform is to encourage all societies to have at least one committee member complete GBV (Gender Based Violence) awareness training. She spoke of her work with activists and the frustrations surrounding the reporting systems for GBV.
She wants to help give committees “the tools” to support society members who come forward rather than getting committees to tackle it by themselves. She spoke of the importance of the #EraseTheGrey campaign, having worked with Reclaim Stirling on the plan to extend it across the city, already having had talks with the licensing board and the university.
Also on the agenda was the ‘living cost crisis’ with Reid stating she’d like to see more information for students on the available funding. She spoke of students becoming financially strained as a result of confusion or lack of information over financial help available.
She aims to “ensure students know from the get go, this is available to you, there’s no shame to apply for it and we will support you”.
On the topic of accommodation a ‘housing forum’ was discussed to encompass not just on-campus accommodation but private accommodation. She envisions the forum to “work similarly to the model of the module reps” where each building would have a “housing rep”.
Reid also spoke of her desire to increase sustainability through measures such as adding “double cladding” to ensure buildings are more energy efficient as well as bringing back the energy competitions between the accommodation blocks.
The competitions used to run throughout the semester and the block that used the least energy at the end was awarded a sum of money. Going on from this she talked of her desire to put together a working group with the aim of increasing accommodation accessibility for disabled students.
With regards to private housing and her plans to engage more with the private sector she was asked just how realistic it was for change to be achieved.
Reid does believe “there is hope” referencing the work carried out by previous VP Communities, Jamie Grant and his engagement with the council on this issue. She did acknowledge “it won’t be easy” but it will be a “push in the right direction” and the real aim was to put pressure on the private sector and council to effect change.
One of the rather unique points on her manifesto that was discussed was the creation of a sensory room for students. She spoke of how she’d already explored accessible options with the B corridor in Cottrell being one of the locations posited.
As part of the process she consulted with disabled students from the DSAS group. Discussing the importance of having a sensory room she referenced her time as a swimming teacher, leading a class for swimmers with disabilities including autism and how it has informed her advocacy for accessibility.
Discussing period poverty Reid talked about her work as a period poverty analyst intern for the University carrying out research including surveying almost 100 students. She discussed how the current scheme the University had in place was going “fantastically” so it was more about “expanding” than changing the help currently available.
Concluding the interview the demands of the role were discussed with Reid discussing a phrase she’s started using to sum up her mindset. “My activism and my ‘extra curricular work’ is my full-time job. My work at Tesco and my studies is my part-time thing” Reid enthused “I’m ready to work… I’m so excited to, if elected, to do work I’ve already been doing for the past 3 years, but now it’s something I can dedicate my time to, full time”.
To view Jess Reid’s full manifesto please click here
Featured Image Credit – Stirling Student Union