MUT: Would you like to introduce yourself, please?
KK: My name is Karen Kane and I’m the Vice President for Welfare in College.
MUT: Five words that describe yourself.
KK: ‘Em (x3), Enthusiastic, bubbly, ‘em, (sotto voce) I can’t, I’ve to do three more, Oh! my God, unable to think on my feet, [despairingly] is that one?
KK: No, let me think (x3 staccato), no, I could never be, okay, I’m gonna make up synonyms, how cool is that? (Laughs.) Ooh! “Interesting”.
MUT: Engrossing is a nice word.
KK: Yeah, that’s a nice word, I don’t know what I am, so I said enthusiastic, interesting, capable and what’s the word when you like to figure things out, you like to see the, you know, like a child is like?
KK: That one, there you go.
MUT: That one’ll do. Out of all the Student Union Officers, Welfare is pretty much out there.
MUT: It’s the most interactive with the Students Body, and how did you feel with, cos the last Welfare Officer being Síona Cahill, filling those shoes?
KK: Filling Síona’s (Síona Cahill last year’s VP Education), shoes, something I’ve been asked a lot, but when I think of Síona , I mean Síona and I worked very closely for two years, so things…with Disability Awareness Week, I would have been working directly with Síona on Disability Awareness Week for the last two years. I was really involved in the Maynooth 40 Challenge that Síona put up in her First Year; so when people ask how was it filling Sheena Síona’s shoes, I was sort of, like ‘em, well, I was sort of beside Síona’s shoes the whole time, so it is scary, obviously ‘cos she was so out there on Campus, but I think it was something I was prepared for when I was running for the role. It’s still a bit scary, but, hopefully, I’ll be able to forget about that, just be me, cost people think me and Síona are the same person but we’re actually very, very different.
MUT: …and you’re both red heads?
KK: (Laughs)…yeah! We’re both red heads and she likes to think she’s from the West of Ireland, but she’s not, she’s from the Midlands.
MUT: Can I quote you on that?
KK: Yeah, totally (x2) quote me on that, Longford is not in the West Síona!
MUT: So, you also have some great campaigns coming up, and obviously they’re very dear to you, but is there any particular one that, because of your own experience as a student that you are particularly close to?
KK: Yeah! So my big focus this year, I’m doing a lot of things on what affects your health and different health campaigns, so say we’re doing things like Diabetes Awareness Day, we’re gonna do Epilepsy Awareness day, we’re going to do a day on ‘flu ‘cos so many students are affected by ‘flu. A good 16% of our students can be affected by the ‘flu, and they don’t even realise they’re affected, but say if you’re part of a group and say if you have Diabetes, you can actually get very, very sick from having the ‘flu, so we’re going to do loads of awareness campaigns and we’re also doing things around Meningitis, Mumps and Measles, ‘cos College Students are actually more prone to getting Meningitis than other groups. Yeah! So health campaigns and I’m also going to do a lot on drugs and alcohol awareness. I feel they haven’t been touched because people are afraid to touch drugs and alcohol. So, I’m going to do a lot on alcohol, hopefully, cos alcohol is definitely a problem on our Campus.
Let me think what else? Oh! We’re gonna do a gambling campaign because gambling is actually starting to become a massive problem especially in Maynooth. We have a betting office in Maynooth and On-line. It’s become really pro0minent, people are just going online to bet as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to raise some kind of awareness so you’ll know if you’re sorta getting caught into things, and you’re finding it hard to get out, ‘cos even children’s TV shows has gambling ads in the middle of them, which is crazy, absolutely crazy yep!
MUT: …and there’re are all the supports on Campus?
KK: Oh so many supports, so what I really, really want to do this year is to join up completely with Student Services, which we’re doing the second week after everybody gets back. We’re going to have SUSI and Budgeting Office in the Arts Block; ‘em, the Health Centre are completely on for my Health Campaigns, we have counselling involved this year. I’m doing an overall Mental Health approach, ‘cos I don’t think doing one week of Mental Health is enough; I think Mental Health should be included in absolutely every single health campaign. So I’m, hopefully going to have loads of information up on Mental health Services, all the time because if you need to go to counselling, go to counselling, I think everyone should go to counselling regardless, like counselling is serious, you can just go in and talk at a person for an hour and they have to listen to you. It’s unreal, plus, the Counsellors are really nice. Yeah! So, just working with the Student Services Centre.
MUT: That’s it for me, is there anything else you want to add, just by yourself?
KK: No, not really, I was going to say something about my whole “Sound Scone” initiative. The Sound Scone is going to be throughout the year. When I need to tell something out, so if you ever hear the words sound scone it’s usually going to have something after it, so you should probably listen to it.
MUT: So, you’ll do Hashtag…?
You can contact Karen by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or on the Welfare Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/msuwelfareandequality/