My name is Lorcan O’Donnell and I am delighted to be your Student Welfare Officer for the year. Ciara Jo, Matthew and I took up our positions just over three months ago now and to say time has flown would be an understatement. It has been an extremely busy yet rewarding three months. The summer gives us a chance to sit down and plan out the year ahead – organise events and campaigns, set out our goals and objectives, decide on a pathway to achieving those goals and to build relationships with people around the college. It also gives us time to learn about things unique to our own positions, I have spent a lot of time educating myself on student support systems in place, accommodation issues, tenant rights, mental health supports to name but a few. There is so much to learn and I know for certain that I’ll still be learning by the end of my term as sabbat.
Before I go any further, I’d like to welcome you all to UL! You’ll hear the same advice from all your family and friends but honestly, you are in for the best few years of your life and it goes WAY too fast, so make the most of every opportunity. It’s such an exciting time and I’d encourage you to get involved in whatever you possibly can.
Ciara Jo, Matthew and I have many common goals for the year ahead but there are obviously many objectives I have unique to my role as welfare officer. As a student, you don’t come to realise the amount of time needed to see change within a university. There are so many boards and committees that each change/new idea has to go through before it can be implemented. While a year may seem like a long time, it really is only a fraction of what’s needed to see out every goal. While I am confident that we will achieve many of our objectives this year, I am also fully aware that we will be taking positive steps in the right direction with other goals, to be pushed through by next year’s sabbats or even the cohort following them.
Health and wellbeing
The overall health and wellbeing of the students is my primary focus for the coming year. I studied Sport and Exercise Sciences for four years here and have been lucky enough to see the rewards of physical activity and its positive effects on mental, physical, emotional and even social health. While I understand that sport or even the gym is not for everyone, no one can deny the benefits of something as simple as a walk in the evening or eating a home cooked meal. If you’re looking to make positive changes for anything to do with your physical, mental or emotional health, pop in for a chat and we can talk through the little things that can ultimately make a big difference to your wellbeing. Last year the Welfare Office organised the first UL Transforms initiative (think Operation Transformation for UL!) and this is something that I plan to make even bigger and better for the year ahead so keep an ear open for when we put our call out for Leaders!
I also have a background in youth and community work in LGBT+ populations, sexual health and HIV so feel free to drop in and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction for any queries! Getting free STI check-ups available to students on campus, health weeks for male, female and transgender students and initiatives combatting sexual assault are also main goals of mine – all of which I have spent quite some time doing work on over the summer.
Myself, Matthew and Ciara Jo have all been a part of UL Student Life here before so we are all aware of most of the ins and outs of making effective change, but we also come in with loads of fresh ideas that we have been told by students that we want to bring in. A common objective amongst all three of us is that the Student Life building becomes a place for ALL students to make use of, whether that be using ourselves as supports, the pool room for a quick game or asking a question at reception. We are here to help EVERY student in UL, not just a certain few. We’re going to spend a lot of time going out and getting to know students this year and listening to what they would like/need to see. Even if it means just stopping us in the courtyard to ask a quick question, don’t be shy.
Lastly, a massive thank you to everyone that voted for us three to be in the positions that we are in now and to allow us to make a difference to your university life. I honestly could not be more excited for the year ahead and everything it will bring for us all.