Vice President for Welfare
My name is Ruairí Weiner and I am a current student in Maynooth University. I have served two terms as President of MU Mental Health Society and I am currently a part-time officer in Maynooth Students’ Union. I am not a student politician, rather I am a student activist, and it is my activism, integrity, and determination to break the barriers to education that I hope to bring to the USI. In the past few years the barriers to education have grown and structural issues have emerged which are ravaging student mental health. These are due to government neglect and austerity which has disproportionately been placed upon students because those in power thought they could get away with it. Now is a turning point. Now is the time and the opportune moment to lobby full force on the next government to reverse the gross austerity and the growing crisis in higher education. We must seize the moment and lobby harder and more effectively than ever before to break the barriers to education. My priorities are clear, I know what to lobby for to tackle the structural issues which are ravaging student welfare and to radically improve the position of 100,000s of students.
Students need access to mental health services on or near campus. A fully resourced team that can cater to all their needs. This must happen by the next budget.
Housing needs to be delivered based on students’ need, not private profit, and the state must take responsibility for this. Construction of affordable purpose built student accommodation on or near campuses which is accessible to students with disabilities must start in big numbers this year.
Students’ sexual health must be a continued priority of the state. I will increase lobbying for access to sexual health services on campus, sound implementation on the higher education consent framework, and availability of PrEP to students.
In terms of student finance we need urgent restoration of SUSI grants to pre-2011 levels, reduction the adjacency criteria, an immediate reduction of the student contribution as a step towards removal of fees, increases to the student assistance fund, restoration and review of postgraduate grants, and an increase in the PhD stipend to be more in line with a living wage.
Transgender students need access to affordable and adequate healthcare here in Ireland. Transgender and nonbinary issues and terminology need to be understood, normalised, and promoted in student organisations.
Welfare needs of students with disabilities must be met in all HEIs so they may have as enjoyable a college experience as all students should. Accommodation must be accessible and affordable as should all normal college activities.
We need an approach to drugs that is evidence based and informative. We need to lobby to decriminalise the narrative and bring it into a welfare space. We need to talk about the reality od student drug use and what information and support is helpful.
For a committed and tenacious lobbyist in USI, active on these issues, vote for Ruairí Weiner.