I’m Lauren Harper, a second year Politics and Philosophy student, I’m secretary of Stirling University Labour Society and Chair of Campaigns for the Stirling Students Tenants Union. I was also one of the suspended Stirling 13. Our university like so many others across the country is driven by greed and motivated by profit. This has become more evident as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. My manifesto is centered around three key points, as follows:
Even before the pandemic, rent was unaffordable to many students, and as we enter a recession the situation will get significantly worse. Across the country students have been lied to and told we would receive ‘blended learning’, yet only once the leases were signed were we told that, for the majority of us, all learning would take place on line. University bosses across the country forced students into tenancies, effectively extorting money from them. We only have to turn our attention to the accommodation leaving fee during the pandemic at Stirling to see that our safety is not of top priority. Should you elect me as your NUS Delegate I will fight to ensure that protecting rights of student tenants is a top priority for the NUS.
In the university sector, students are left with little to no voice, this allows those running our universities to exploit us for their own profit. I would like to see an increase in democracy within our universities, ultimately leading to the full democratisation of the university sector, forcing management to put students' lives before profit. Unlike the management of universities across the country, I believe that student welfare should come above all else. If elected as NUS delegate, I will fight to create an environment in which universities are once again a place for learning and academia rather than a place of business.
3- Mental Health
There is a mental health crisis on university campuses across the country. Due to chronic under-funding, all too many students are not getting the help that they so desperately need. Once again we see universities across the country valuing profit ahead of students' lives, and this must change. At Stirling last year the budget for mental health on campus was lower than principal Gerry McCormac’s wage. This needs to end. Mental health is an issue that I have struggled with personally so it is one that is especially close to my heart. You can be sure that I will fight passionately for increased funding for mental health on campuses across Scotland and to ensure that on campus mental health facilities are specially equipped to deal with the unique issues facing those from minority groups.