MSU Elections Executive Candidates – Aoife Fennell, VP for Welfare and Equality

Tell us a bit about yourself, what’s your background?

I’m in my final year of the Bachelor of music degree in Maynooth. I am a Kildare gal and have lived in Kildare my entire life.  I have been a type 1 Diabetic for 15 years and having such a disability has taught me many skills in life such as eating right, organising, the importance of your overall health and so much more! Piano is my main instrument and am training in classical singing and guitar.

I have been volunteering with the Intellectual Learning Initiative, where I have meet some amazing people and have made great friends.  I have been a class Rep for the past three years and have helped, listened and advised students on many different matter, as well as this I have organised events and trips such as mystery tour and a music trip (which I am currently organising.)

In first year I was really interested in joining the welfare team but unfortunately due to working outside of college and also being a commuter this was not an option for me. Also in my first year, I was very inspired by our one and only Siona Cahill and that’s when I started thinking about going for the position and now here I am!

Some of the main qualities I feel are important to be the V.P. for Welfare and Equality are to be a good listener, good organisation skills, to be empathetic, to be approachable, to be outgoing and bubbly, and to be able to overcome any obstacles, these are all qualities which I would consider that I have.
What are the main focus points of our campaign?
On my manifesto I have 8 aims which I hope to implement if elected. I suppose would have four main focus points , I couldn’t narrow it down to just three!

These aims are:
(1) to work with the university to allow students within the LGBTQ+ community to be registered with the university under their true name thus their true name would be on their student cards, MUmail etc.
(2) Let’s Eats with Aoife- Proper Nutrition is not something which everyone focuses on throughout college thus leading to many students having unhealthy diets. My aim is to create Meal plans which ae easy to cook and cheap to buy, which will all be supplied as an online resource and include videos on how to prepare and cook these meals. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to be cooking every day , so my hope would be that many of these meals can be frozen or refrigerated so that students only have to heat them up (or not if it’s a cold meal!) during the week for their hectic schedules.

I also want to include meal plans for specific dietary needs such as Diabetics, Vegetarians, Vegans, Dairy free, Nut Free and Gluten Free. Man students have asked how I will be able to make up these plans. Well I myself am a Type 1 Diabetic with an aunty who has a Gluten intolerance and on top of that I come from a cooking background as my mum was a chef, so cooking has been something I’ve grown up around. This all ties in with my idea of a campaign series called ‘Love yourself’. This would different campaign weeks which all ties in together under your personal health incl. nutrition, physical health, mental health etc.
(3) MSU Life Skills: Funny enough what does college forget to teach us, How to Adult! So Msu Life skills would be a series of workshops and online videos ran by myself and/ or in correlation with University Clubs and socs and local businesses. My hope would be to hold workshops/videos such as, how to improve your CV,How to set up a bank account, How to make your money go further, How to clean your house, First aid training, Barrista/Bar skills and so much more!
(4) Jobs!: This would be similar to what one of our previous presidents did, MOB’s Jobs (done by Matt O’Boyle). Well I want to bring back this idea and have an online resource whereby students can find student friendly part time jobs in the surrounding areas of Maynooth. I think this would be beneficial to a vast majority of the student body as a lot of students are not from counties around Kildare thus many when first moving up find it difficult to figure out where to look for a job that’s not just in Dublin City Centre. I would hope to work alongside local businesses in order to achieve this.
(5) Later Commuter Bus: As a commuter throughout my university life, It has been such a pain to have to go home at 6pm (as that is the last bus from phoenix) . My plan is to work with the existing bus companies to try and get a later bus introduced to allow commuter students to participate in Clubs and societies or for academic/social reasons.

With a week of campaigning under your belt what issues have come to light and how would you address them?
This week and Campaigning have been one of the best experiences for me, I have gotten to speak and know so many fantastic people and am so excited for next week! The biggest thing that I have learnt from this week is actually to do with my manifesto. On my manifesto I put the term ‘Preferred Name Field’, although I had been talking to a reliable source on this who said this was fine to say, I have since found out that it is offence to those within the LGBTQ+ community.

Every day / second day I have been uploading videos on my facebook page with each video explaining a different topic on my manifesto. In my video relating to this point I apologies about making this mistake, and now I apologies again. As a candidate to be the next V.P. for Welfare and equality, I want to make sure that all students feel rightly represented and yes, I made a mistake, I am sure I will make other mistakes if elected (hopefully not like this one) because I am only human. As well as that All welfare and equality candidates were approached by Fem Soc to give a statement regarding repeal the 8th as they felt the issue was not properly addressed at the husting. I gladly gave my statement and in that I said I would go with the mandate of the university regarding this matter.

If elected my job and obligation is to represent the student body and their dissensions and views. I have not been trained to be the V.P. of Welfare and Equality, I have only my own knowledge and that which I have researched, but research cannot explain the life experience the way people can. I promise if elected I will work and work to make sure that all students feel that their Welfare Office represents them and their needs/wants.