Imogen de Castro Gray, Deputy President

Imogen de Castro Gray – Deputy President

  • Improving student safety and wellbeing
  • Enhancing the efficiency of the University
  • Pushing for a more inclusive, equal and supportive campus.
  • Tackle student safety, sexual assault and harassment.
  • Improve wellbeing and mental health.
  • Ensure students are supported during COVID.

Project to uplift Black Queer voices, showcase intersectional content and provide historic resources for students to educate themselves on untold history and ignored heroes and role models. More info see here - https://www.liverpoolguild.org/lgbtqhistory

I plan to tackle any inclusivity issue faced and raised by students but I am particularly passionate about ensuring that University staff are appropriately held accountable, that there are sufficient reporting mechanisms in place for students and that staff receive cultural competency and LGBTQ+ awareness and education training.

Wellbeing Wednesdays’provides students with weekly wellbeing workshops and sessions aimed to improve their social mobility and wellbeing. You can get tickets for the morning session 'Tea Talks', afternoon session 'Study Group' and evening socials 'Speed Mate-ing' via Native.

You can also view my other work via this webpage https://www.liverpoolguild.org/mentalhealth which is dedicated to providing students with wellbeing information and resources.

Lobby the University to extend their Mental Health Service open hours beyond their current ones which run from 9am-5pm. I also want to ensure students understand what support is available to them and how they can access it.

Update: The Universities counselling services have extended their hours until 7 pm to prioritise students who cannot access the services during normal hours.

I originally wanted to make the spaces used for the ‘travelling library’ during exam season permanent so that more spaces would be available on campus. Due to COVID, and the lack of physical presence on campus I am instead focusing my efforts on pushing the University to increase bookable study spaces as they have reduced significantly due to social distancing measures.

  • Work with security and local services to bring awareness to safety concerns for students travel routes to and from campus.
  • Create a zero-tolerance atmosphere on campus and work with the University to better support survivors of sexual violence throughout University.

A feature that monitors and displays student capacity in the libraries.

Update: Students can now see how many study spaces are available via the library website - https://libcal.liverpool.ac.uk/r

Ensure the University is sufficiently supporting students affected by COVID.

Update: Alongside the Officer Team, I lobbied the University to provide wifi dongles to students, introduce a No Detriment Policy and provide rent rebates to University Halls Students, allowing them to also be released from tenancies. Independently, I also ensured the University were able to provide isolating students with food and essentials packages when isolating, introduced volunteer opportunities for students and provided 500+ students with care packages to support them during the Christmas holidays.

Investigate unfair advantages between courses textbook fees and target those with the highest costs. Explore options to improve E-Book selections and implement a fair-criteria for academics so that students with higher costing textbook fees will not be financially disadvantaged. I also plan to improve the Universities transparency of hidden course fees.

Supporting students through the financial difficulties COVID has presented, by asking the University to agree to a list of demands. More info here.

Black LGBTQ+ History: My work so far 12-11-20
Gender Recognition Act Response: Your Thoughts Submitted 3-12-20
Refund the Rent Update 21-1-21
LGBTQ+ History Month: My Work So Far 19-02-21
Welcome to Mental Health Website – 02-03-21

This committee audits and monitors the University’s compliance with the Office for Students regulations regarding Consumer Law. The focus is on student’s consumer rights being abided by when ‘purchasing’ degrees and other products from the University.

Former Guild President pursued the removal of academic sanctions for non-academic debt through this committee campaigning for an end to this during the Cut the Rent campaign. Find out more here.

These meeting were set up since the COVID-19 pandemic to co-ordinate the University’s efforts with the Liverpool City Region. It is looking at how the University can contribute to the economic recovery of the city region, understanding that the university is an anchor institution that holds a lot of financial and social capitol. They have pitched projects to the combined authority and are starting to implement them..

In October 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission released a report on their inquiry into the racism experienced by staff and students in UK Universities, see report here. From this, the University set up a response group to co-ordinate anti-racism work across the institution.

The group has written a plan with recommendations related to race equity work in the University. This includes rolling out a new reporting tool, ‘Report and Support’, which should make it easier for students to report all forms of harassment.

This year I am working on issues around LGBTQ+ and Racial liberation and equality, I will use this committee to raise some of my ideas. Such as; expanding discrimination appendixes in student’s disciplinary policy papers, improving student’s ability to report discriminatory staff and ensuring the staff disciplinary policy papers are cohesive to the student’s policies and that they are explicit and accessible for students. I also aim to ensure all staff get external training in cultural competence and LGBTQ+ awareness and understanding. I will be working with Adnan and this committee on other Race equality work, such as decolonizing curriculum.

This board covers everything that the university is working on regarding employability, from the Careers Studio to the Graduate Outcomes Survey to Kickstarter and more.

Aiming to improve employability for ‘widening participation’ students, the group has been growing the Careers Students and student career coached whilst establishing stronger links with Liverpool employers. The committee is also working on embedding careers advice in the curriculum.

This group established the University’s equality steering action plans, one for students and one for staff. The student focused plan addresses underrepresentation of student groups on undergraduate programmes.

This committee forms the strategic relationship between the University and the Guild. It monitors and signs off the Guild’s reporting and accounts such as the Student Voice Report, which reviews issues and feedback from Course Reps. This committee acts as a forum to discuss university and Guild joint campaigns and activity.

The Safe and Welcoming Campus Environments Project addresses sexual violence on campus and other issues students may face that make them unsafe. Bystander Intervention training was developed and supported through this group. The priorities for the upcoming year are; hate crime, purple flag, online harassment, and racism.

I will work with Chloe and this committee to develop our sexual assault ‘#NeverOK’ campaign. I will also be exploring ways in which we can implement a safety app or hotline service for prevention. This group may also be one to help me in my aim to get staff trained in cultural competence and LGBTQ+ awareness and understanding.

Senate is one of the highest decision-making bodies at the University and is responsible for promoting research, promoting and regulating learning and teaching, and for maintaining the quality of standards of the University’s academic provision.

The group was initially formed as a collaborative campaign which now meets to discuss city wide and University campaigns around sexual violence in the night time. This community group includes representatives from Liverpool City Council, Sefton Council, RASA, Merseyside Policy, LJMU, JMSU, UoL and the Guild. The group also support implementing specific training for workers in the night time economy.

I will work with Chloe and this committee to develop our sexual assault ‘#NeverOK’ campaign. With many relevant external groups involved I will aim to work with them to introduce a Charter for local bars to sign, a safety service for prevention and get support from these experts on introducing an #I’M A SURVIVOR network, which I plan to make a part of the Guild and the support services. I will also work with Chloe to explore bringing an ISVA into the Guild and a RASA advisor in the Universities support services.

This committee sets all tuition fees and bursaries and formulates strategy on student numbers and widening participation students.

The University set out a student success strategy. The groups aim to improve the experience of and provision for students so they can succeed academically. There are three groups within this.

The Academic Success strand of the Student Success Strategy addresses the University’s institutional aim to ensure that ‘all students have the opportunity and support to achieve their full academic potential’.

At this group I will raise my aim to reveal and cut and reveal hidden costs at University, predominantly in regards to textbook fees – due to the current years economic feasibility, the starting point is free books for all bursary students or a select cohort of students who need it most. As well as ensuring the University are more transparent with their additional study costs.

This committee looks at incidents and safety problems on campus, working with campus security to address crimes and anything related to student safety.

I will see how I can work with this group to develop the ‘#NeverOK’ campaign and work on anti-racism.

Discussing and leading on the University’s sustainable approaches, the group facilitates the sustainable activities on campus and partners with Guild and city-wide campaigns. The University’s annual Sustainability Report is discussed at this group.

Following the success of pushing the University to commit to fossil fuel divestment, the Guild lobbied the University to do more on sustainability. They set up 6 working groups (details below) that each specialise in a different area of sustainability on campus and an Education group.

  1. Biodiversity Action Working Group
  2. Climate Action Group
  3. Travel and Transport Working Group
  4. Education Working Group
  5. Sustainability Board

This group was tasked with reviewing the University’s transgender policy. This committee has broad areas of work, including looking at IT systems and ensuring students’ correct pronouns and names are used on University systems and detailing how students can get a new student card and email address with their correct name and pronouns.

The Wellbeing Board works on the University’s strategic approach to student and staff wellbeing; this includes recruiting additional Wellbeing staff, planning collaborative projects and coordinating Wellbeing Week events and activities. The board plans to move the counselling building to a larger and more accessible space.

My aims on improving student mental health include; extending service hours to allow better out of hours support, making the services more culturally competent and making the services easier to navigate via their webpages. I would also like to introduce an LGBTQ+ safe space group in the mental health support services. In the Guild, I plan to introduce a COVID volunteer service which will include a Check-in and Chat peer support initiative to combat student loneliness, as other wellbeing initiatives. I will work with this committee to achieve these aims.

Email: Imogen.De-Castro-Gray@liverpool.ac.uk

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