Your VP for Welfare and Community candidates: Saskia Jenkins

Alejandro Javierre 10 March 2021


Image by: Saskia Jenkins


Saskia is a second-year biology student who is running to be the next Vice President for Welfare and Community.


The current academic rep describes her experiences on the campaign trail so far as “stressful but positive”, and emphasized a wish not to overload students too early into the election cycle with social media posts.


Saskia also highlighted her views on the current student rep system.


“You can only do so much, you can speak to students and get a lot of opinions that aren’t necessarily in your area, and that was my reason for running – I heard a lot of concerns that I had no way of helping with.


“They only need a certain number of reps, and there are a lot of reps in my area, and when they’re doing meetings, they only ask for a certain number of people.”


She added: “I think that can be slightly negative because you want to really have as many opinions and concerns as possible.”


Her campaign page highlights experience in communicating with students and staff throughout her time at Kent, and greater communication at the Union is a central part of Saskia’s campaign.


She said: “Most of the students who need more support are the ones who are disengaged, just because they’ve got other things to worry about and they might not be aware of all the services.”


“It’s not enough for [these services] to exist, as so many people just aren’t aware of them.”


The interview then shifted towards how she felt the role had been utilized this year.


“I do think there were positive changes made in terms of accessibility.”


“I think there was a lot of outreach from wellbeing, but it is a hard situation to criticize, because you can’t compare it with other years.”


She added: “I would say there wasn’t as much inclusion of the people being represented themselves.


Saskia was also asked about her views on the current situation over cancelling certain candidates for controversial policy ideas.


“I just don’t want to say anything negative, that’s the main thing. You don’t want anyone to be targeted for any reason.”


“I would say this has epitomized the idea that there does need to be a lot more inclusion in terms of everyone’s university experience having value, we’re not all just one conglomerate of people at university.”


Finally, the conversation touched on the recent rent strike campaign undertaken by students.


Saskia said: “In terms of housing, people getting their rent back is ambitious but the cost of housing has gone up and student allowance hasn’t.”


“Getting people’s money back – I am in support of that, but ensuring that in future years upping the price of accommodation doesn’t become unreasonable for the people who need it, that is something I want to be a focus as well.”


“I can’t say anything I want to do, but those are concerns of mine that I have about the housing situation.”


Analysis

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media


Saskia’s experience as a committed student rep and involvement with a smorgasbord of advocacy societies means that she is likely well-versed in the benefits – and limits – of student representation on campus. The roles of a student rep may be even more similar for sabbatical officers this year than previous, due to the changing nature of FTO priorities. It should also be mentioned that while Saskia’s commitment to a greater focus on transparency and communication between the Union and students doesn’t translate into any specific policy ideas, as with all campaigns this year, it is a focus which could be implemented in many contexts alongside the priorities chosen by students. There is clearly a lot of dominating issues facing welfare candidates this year, not least being the ongoing rent situation, where many students on and off campus are still being forced to pay rent for homes they haven’t been using. Saskia’s nuanced position on the rent situation, choosing to highlight the more structural issues surrounding rising rent costs for disadvantaged students, is something unique to herself in this hotly contested race.

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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