December is a month with a quality unlike any other — it’s a time of year which brings out in people an array of emotions. It’s a time when you can find lost for time amongst the hustle-bustle of buying presents, finishing your last bits of coursework, or preparing for that last exam, can leave you with a dizzying mixture of feelings both good and bad.
Last month, I was overwhelmed the displays of good character I saw in so many students on campus. I was fortunate enough to work alongside Colette Ansell, to organise a food bank as a part of our UUSU Homelessness Awareness campaign. Every door without exception that I went to in halls was opened up to me, and students were more than willing to empty their cupboards for those in need. In the end, we were able to gather just over three boxes (like the one in the picture above) of food donations — all of which went to those most in need at Christmas.
1 in 5 people are living below the poverty line in the UK. If families are on low incomes, or find themselves in a sudden crisis — perhaps it's a benefit delay, or even an unexpected bill — that might result in families going hungry. That’s why our Homelessness Campaign is so important, and which is why we are determined to better our efforts in raising money and awareness for homelessness next semester.
At our Student Council at the end of November, our Student Council voted unanimously to affiliate with Paul McCartney’s non-profit campaign Meat Free Mondays. This means that Ulster University is the first university in Ireland to affiliate with the campaign. This year as a part of our UUSU Go Green campaign, I want to stress the detrimental environmental impact that the livestock industry has on the environment — contributing to 14.5% of all greenhouse gases. This campaign — while it doesn’t completely eliminate meat from the menu on Monday — will bring an increased vegan range of food (especially on Mondays), more veggie promotions and will encourage students, I hope, to eat more veg! I worked alongside Grace Boyle and the Love Veggie society to build support for this campaign, and it was with their help and support that we were able to achieve this!
Christmas Cheer and Exam Stress
During the exam period in December, I really enjoyed mixing and mingling with students in the library, when we gave out tea & coffee for those studying. I know myself that December can be a particularly taxing month — as I mentioned earlier, you’ve that much else on your plate in the month, that it can be tricky balancing study with all the festivities of the month. A bit of tea or coffee always helps to get your over those last few hurdles! This year’s UUSU Christmas Cheer went down amazingly too! The Winter Fest turned out to be a great party to end the year, with some great music from DJ Lizard. Also near the end of term, our officer team gave out hot chocolate, shortbread and mince pies — while wearing some quite questionable Christmas jumpers! But the biggest Christmas cracker of them all was our letter to Stormont.
It is ludicrous that we live in a country that our elected officials cannot discuss, debate and deal with issues that really matter to people. Not issues of green & orange or red, white & blue — which, let’s face it, aren’t the biggest issues on students’ agendas. That’s why we constructed this list of demands and sent them to all political parties in Northern Ireland — to let them know that all 26,000 of us in the Union are not content with the current set-up. When are we going to give our LGBT friends and family the right to marry those who they love? I eagerly look forward to a response from our politicians on these issues.
Student Queries dealt with: 53.