Welfare Candidate: John Kerr

John Kerr is a Psychology student who plans to use his experience as auditor of the Psychology society in the role of Welfare Officer.

John Kerr is a final year Psychology student, and the current auditor of the Psychology society. When asked what the role of Welfare Officer entails, Kerr says that “broadly speaking” it is “to promote physical and mental health throughout campus in whatever way possible.”  He believes that one of the best ways to “engage with students … is by bringing in little things that will make a big difference on a practical level.” He would like to extensively focus on such aspects of student welfare as mental health, inclusion and accessibility, and health and safety if he is elected Welfare Officer.

In regards to mental health, Kerr would like to introduce “Meet Your Student Adviser” events in the beginning of each semester to ensure students are more aware of the support systems available to them. He believes that there are currently too many students who do not know who their Student Advisers are. To ensure that students are more aware of the support available to them and of the Welfare events taking place, Kerr would also like to launch a separate UCDSU Welfare Facebook page and a weekly “What’s up in Welfare” email.

Kerr would like to hold Mental Health Week in the third week of the academic year. He envisions the week including such events as mindfulness, CBT, and mental health first aid workshops with organisations like Jigsaw and Mental Health Ireland, as well as puppy rooms and talks on mental health. He would also like to run informed information campaigns on lesser-known mental illnesses like Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder throughout the year.

To improve student experiences in college residences, Kerr will look to provide better training to Residential Advisers (RAs), as he believes they do not currently receive sufficient training. He would also like to host pop up SU Welfare Clinics in each residence across the semester. He will also put up SU notice boards “with information on mental health services, financial supports, and consent.

”There is a big need to educate students with hetero-privilege and with cisgender privilege about things that might not necessarily affect them directly”

In his work to make UCD more inclusive Kerr wants to focus on improving LGBTQ+ events to promote a better understanding of LGBTQ+ issues across campus. He hopes to achieve this by coordinating with other societies on events like Rainbow week, dedicating a day of Mental Health week to LGBTQ+ mental health, and including an LGBTQ+ day in SHAG week. He would also like to make International Transgender Day of Remembrance a campus-wide event. When asked if he is aware of the main events of Rainbow week, he admits to not knowing the stand-out events “as a cisgender, straight, white man,” which he sees as “a problem” that needs to be addressed. He acknowledges that he is not a target student for the week, but believes that “in addition to LGBTQ+ students being celebrated throughout campus, […] there is a big need to educate students with hetero-privilege and with cisgender privilege about things that might not necessarily affect them directly” and on “ways in which they can better celebrate and promote LGBTQ+ life on campus.” He expresses intent to work on those issues closely alongside the LGBTQ+ society.

To improve the experiences of students with disabilities Kerr would like to “bring back the Black Spot campaign to mark areas on campus lacking in accessibility.”

In regards to health and safety Kerr is looking to “provide supplies of tampons, pads, and dental dams in the SU in addition to current provisions of condoms,” as well as “ensure that free tampons are available in every female and gender-neutral bathroom on campus.” These items can already be sought from the SU corridor. He would work with the Societies Council “to provide welfare training and first aid,” as well as “practical knowledge of substance abuse” to committee members. Kerr will also “work to install nap pods in libraries and nap rooms during exam periods.” He will discuss with UCD the implementation of a module on consent that students will be awarded full academic credits for, as well as holding Consent Week once every semester.  He will promote services like WalkSafe and Nightline.

Kerr wants to make student health services more accessible by working with “the relevant UCD authorities … to accept the HSE Medical Card,” as he believes that “people who are entitled to medical cards” should be able to use them “especially in university.”

Kerr opposes UCD rejoining USI and even campaigned against it in his first year of college. He points out that UCD has the largest student population and is doing well on the national level on its own, but notes that he “would be open to listening to other opinions.”

“I’m not pro-life!”

Kerr wore a Repeal t-shirt to his interview. When asked if this was to offset people’s view of him as pro-life he loudly interrupted the interviewer saying that this was not the case because “I’m not pro-life!” His change of opinion on the issue is suspisiously timed though he says that it was a gradual process and that from talking to friends he has changed his mind and is now firmly pro-choice.