Neomi Marsolo and Megan Jones are mature students, hoping to become the Mature Students’ Officers in the 2017 elections for the University of York Students’ Union.
What inspired you to run for the position?
We know from first hand experience how hard it can be coming to university as a mature student and the challenges that some of us face that come with being an older student. We want to provide more support for these students and create an environment where they feel like they are an integral part of the university community.
What makes you different from the other candidates?
We already know a lot of other mature students, through events run by the Mature Students’ Association and focus groups run by the Student Support Services, so we can easily build a small committee to help implement our policies and to represent the different ages and life situations of mature students. We are also in contact with Student Support, the GSA (Megan), and the ISA (Neomi), and both have experience of leading groups and organising events (Megan is a coordinator for Mind Your Head, and Neomi is the former president of the Japanese Society), so we are already in a good place to set up more events and provide more support for mature students.
How would your policies change student life at York?
We will: organise more socials and instate mature student representatives in colleges to enable mature students to meet similar people and get more involved in the university community; work with student support to support mature students prior to and upon their arrival at university as it can be very daunting and we face a lot of different issues throughout our time here that other younger students may not face; and campaign for a small communal lounge/kitchen on campus that will be open regularly to create more of a sense of community for mature students (and off campus students).
What challenges do you expect to face in this position and how will you respond to them?
One of our policies is to work with a variety of different societies and networks to organise more socials for mature students. We would really like to work with the GSA but feel that the relationship between YUSU and the GSA needs to more clearly defined for us to do this effectively. We will have discussions with both organisations to get the best for mature students.
Also, very few mature students are aware that there are Mature Students’ Officers so we need to raise our profile online and by email by sending out regular newsletters.
What has been your most enjoyable experience at university?
Megan: I love my role as one of the coordinators of Mind Your Head and this week is our Mental Illness Awareness Week, so we have free talks each evening open to everyone on different mental illnesses. We have been overwhelmed with the attendance and feedback so far; it’s great to be able to provide people with more information and to raise awareness about a range of mental illnesses.
Neomi: I really enjoyed my role as the president of the Japanese society as I got to meet many people from several societies that I now still have contact with. Although I will not continue to be the chair I have taken on the position of the treasurer as I really like the members and talking in Japanese. Bigger events are well visited and collaborating with societies has been a very enriching experience.
What challenges do mature students face on campus?
Coming to university as a mature student presents different challenges depending on your life situation. For example, feeling like you don’t fit in with the “freshers”; not having enough opportunities to socialise (especially if you live off campus); not being able to meet other mature students; financial issues; getting back into the educational mindset.
As told to Richard Tester