SRC Disability Officer

Hi! I'm Anna-Ruth Cockerham, your Disability Officer for 2020/21.

DisabledStuNet@

SRC Disability Officer 2020/21

Disabled Students' Network

@stadsn

About my position

The SRC Disability Officer represents disabled students' needs and experiences across university life. I work with groups like the SRC, Wellbeing Committee, Equal Opportunities Committee and Student Services to build an understanding of disability in the student community, raise awareness of the support available for disabled students, and to tackle issues disabled students experience.

As part of my role, I also chair the Disabled Students' Network: a subcommittee of the Equal Opportunities Committee which is focused on representing disabled students. The DSN also runs events and awareness campaigns and will be running the first Disability Pride Week in week two of first semester this year.

How my position affects you

I work on issues like accessibility, student support, and representation. For example, this year myself and the DSN are working on providing training resources to societies and student groups focused on improving the accessibility of their events, so that disabled students can feel more included in the St Andrews student community.

I have also worked with Student Services to highlight the issues that disabled students have experienced with online learning, worked with Education Committee to improve the representation of disabled students across academic departments, and run awareness campaigns to raise awareness of the many different types of support available for disabled students.

Previous Disability Officers have worked on projects like the Students' Association's Equal Opportunities Policy and Zero Tolerance Policy – providing a complaints process for discrimination and harassment in the union – and the accessibility of campus.

About me

I'm a fourth year Mathematics student from Livingston, just outside Edinburgh. During high school, I was diagnosed with a Functional Neurological Disorder, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. As part of this, I experience a multitude of symptoms that impact everything from my mobility to my energy levels.

Living and studying with my disability, I have experienced a wide-range of issues including the inaccessibility of buildings and teaching, harassment, and a poor understanding of the support available to me. Early in my degree, I became interested in disability activism and began running events for disabled students and working to make the societies I was involved in more accessible. I found myself really enjoying this work and wanted to see bigger changes across the Union and the University, so I chose to run for Disability Officer at the end of my third year.

Outside of my studies and SRC position, I am also a keen competitive debater with the Union Debating Society. I enjoy speaking in public debates and have been on the committee since my second year. A fun fact about me is that, in my third year, I re-adopted my academic dad when he came back to do his masters!

Groups I work with

I lead the Disabled Students' Network (DSN). I sit on the Wellbeing and Equal Opportunities subcommittees. I also sit on the Museums Student Advisory Panel.

My manifesto pledges

Read my full manifesto here, and follow my Facebook page for updates.

See my manifesto tracker to check my progress.

Establish a Disabilities subcommittee to better represent the wide-ranging views and experiences of different disabled students, work to signpost support services, raise awareness of disability in the wider student community, and foster a supportive social community for disabled students. (I already completed this - that's the Disabled Students' Network!)

Create a yearly Disability Pride Week with a variety of events focused on raising awareness of the diverse experiences of disabled people and supporting disabled students. (I already completed this - it ran in week two of first semester!)

Introduce an Accessibility Pledge and create a guide to running accessible society events to improve the accessibility of social activities for disabled students. (I already completed this - student groups can sign up here.) I am currently working with the AU and Saints Sport to make the gym, fitness classes, and sports clubs and teams more accessible too.

Create a student Disability Rep to be implemented across all academic schools and provide them training to help standardise disability adjustments and recognise issues and good practice affecting disabled students in different subjects. (I already completed this - the first Disabilities Forum with the Reps is on 20th Oct.)

Run advertising campaigns targeted at removing the stigma surrounding accessing support, as well as advertising the different kinds of support that is available to disabled students. This will include working to better advertise the support offered to students in diagnosing Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD), working with the DoWell, Peer Support, Student Services, and Nightline to help them better advertise the support they can offer to disabled students, running a campaign targeted at newly disabled students or students who worry they may not be “disabled enough”, and creating informational materials explaining the process of declaring a disability and getting adjustments during the summer.

Advocate for disability-specific focus groups on new building projects and university policies.

Find more information on the support available for disabled students in St Andrews in the online guide written by disabled students. If you're a disabled student at St Andrews, you can join our Facebook group.