All currently active Welfare policies. Errors and Omissions Excepted.

2015 EMERGENCY MOTIONS

15 EM WEL 1           Drinks Campaign

Congress notes:

The recent events surrounding the Diageo funded body ‘Role Models’.

Congress declares:

That Congress has no confidence in public bodies advocating on the issue of alcohol misuse and abuse which are funded by the drinks industry.

Congress calls:

On all public health and education bodies who sit on this board to resign from this board and to no longer support this model.

Congress mandates the USI President:

To campaign against this body ‘Role Models’ and the continuation of such bodies based on this model.

 

 

 

15 WE1 Accommodation crisis

USI Congress Notes:

The difficulty in recent years students face in obtaining accommodation.

USI Congress further Notes:

That for many students, having affordable and fit-for-purpose accommodation is a prerequisite for attending college.

USI Congress therefore Mandates:

The President and relevant Vice Presidents to lobby the relevant authorities for more regulation in the rental market for students and also long term investment into the development of more purpose-built student accommodation.

USI Congress further Mandates:

The President and VP Welfare to also lobby the relevant authorities for incentives towards landlords and homeowners who take in students.

15 WE2 Student assistance fund

USI Congress Notes:

The importance of the Student Assistance Fund (SAF), the role it plays in supporting students across the country, and how quickly it runs out in many HEI’s around the country.

USI Congress further Notes:

 The SAF “Best Practice Framework Document 2013” written by USI.

 USI Congress Notes with Concern:

The high volume of SAF motions currently on the policy manual.

USI Congress hereby deletes:

 14 / Wel 7, 13 / Wel 8, 13 / Wel 9, 12 / Wel 1, 11 / Wel 13

USI Congress therefore Mandates:

That the President and Vice President for Welfare campaign for increased funding for the SAF scheme, and lobby against any cutbacks to the fund.

USI Congress further Mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to provide briefing to all MO’s on all aspects of the SAF, and seek representation on all committees relating to SAF on their campuses, and to also continually lobby the HEA to redraft the guidelines for the SAF and to include recommendations to increase efficiency of systems.

15 WE 3 Consent

Congress applauds the success of sexual health and empowerment campaigns such as SHAG week, which promotes a healthy attitude towards sex with a holistic approach.

Congress agrees that while sexual consent is included as a part of SHAG week, it is time that the USI rolled out a comprehensive national student consent campaign separately.

Congress Mandates that the Vice President for Welfare, Campaigns and Equalities and Citizenship create a national consent campaign. That is gender neutral in approach and separate to SHAG week.

Congress Further Mandates the USI President and Vice President for Welfare to actively lobby and campaign for mandatory consent classes or workshops to be delivered to every single class within the third level education system in their first semester of college.

15 WE 4 Anti-Bullying Policy


Congress Notes

The lack of policy and awareness in the area of bullying in Third Level.

Congress further Notes

That bullying can present in many different ways and in various aspects of student life including, but not limited to in class, accommodation and through social media.

Congress affirms

USI Cyberbullying Policy as passed by Congress in 2013

Congress mandates

The Vice President for Welfare  develop an Anti- Bullying Policy that would take into consideration USI Cyberbullying policy  and assist local officers in following through with its recommendations and action points.

15 WE 5 Rent a Room Relief Scheme

 

Congress Notes

The increasing shortfall in purpose built student accommodation, relative to the demand for such accommodation.

Congress Further Notes

That whilst this problem is especially prevalent in Dublin, is also a growing issue in many other areas across Ireland in proximity to Higher Level Institutions

Congress Notes

That there is a lack of awareness of the Rent a Room Relief Scheme amongst property owners across Ireland

Congress applauds

The Rent a Room Relief Scheme which allows homeowners to rent a room in their house to private tenants, with the subsequent rental income earned being exempt from income tax, provided this income does not exceed a certain limit in a tax year. In Budget 2015, it was announced that this limit would increase from €10,000 to €12,000.

Congress Believes

That an increased awareness of the Rent a Room Relief Scheme will lead to an increased availability and of alternative accommodation sources available to students apart from traditional purpose-built student accommodation

Congress Believes

That an increased awareness of the Rent a Room Relief Scheme will lead to more affordable student accommodation options

Congress Mandates

The relevant officers/officer board to advertise this scheme along with relevant accommodation campaigns and to  provide support to member organisations  in local campaigns around accommodation.

 

 

15 WE 8 Student Housing Associations

Congress notes with concern

That student accommodation prices have risen by over 10% nationally in 2014 and that there is a deficit in purpose built student accommodation in Ireland.

Congress notes

 That USI highlighted this issue in 2014/2015 and that a number of projects are underway by USI officers on this area.

Congress also notes

That many other jurisdictions have Student Housing Associations whereby accommodation is provided for students by students.

Congress believes

That USI should explore setting up a student housing association in Ireland.

Congress also mandates

The USI President to research best practice in relation to student housing associations and to consult with key stakeholders on the possibility of USI running an independent student housing association.

Congress also mandates

 The USI President to research vacant properties that may be available to create student accommodation and research funding avenues that USI may pursue in order to be in a financial position to create a student housing association.

 

15 WE 9  Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance Week

 

Congress notes

That five percent of Irish 18-year-olds will leave secondary school without any formal sexual health education, according to the Durex Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey, 2012.

Congress further notes

The need to educate students on all aspects of sexual health when they first enter third level.

Congress mandates

The Vice President Welfare to endeavour to hold Sexual Health Awareness week in the first semester.

 

 

 

15 WE 10 Update USI  Physical Health Strategy

 

Congress notes

The USI Physical Health strategy is due to expire in 2015.

 

Congress further notes

The importance on USI having a Physical Health Strategy and need to update strategies that are due to expire.

 

Congress mandates

The Vice President Welfare to work with various bodies like Student Sport Ireland to create a new Physical Health strategy.

 

15 WE 11 FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF A DEPOSIT PROTECTION SCHEME

 

Congress notes with concern:

 Reports of students having extreme difficulty in recovering their full deposits in a timely and fair manner.

 

Congress further notes with concern:

 That in some cases, landlords are using students’ deposits as profit.

 

Congress calls on:

The government to honour its commitment from its’ own programme that set out to fully implement a deposit protection scheme.

 

Congress believes:

That the best way in which to do this would be to extend the arm and resources of the Private Residential Tenancies Board to act as a holding body/third party for deposits.

 

Congress mandates:

 The VP Welfare, VP Campaigns and Officer Board to campaign and lobby to this end before the conclusion of the current government’s term but to update National Council in advance of the start of the Academic Year 2015/16.

 

15 WE 12 Motion to provide training and contacts to deal with issues regarding BTEA

 

Congress notes
The number of mature students who rely on the back to education allowance.


Congress further notes

That SU officers may be ill-equipped to deal with the problems arising in applying for and receiving BTEA.

Congress Mandates
The VP Welfare to organise training for SU Officers on dealing with casework relating to BTEA.

Congress Further Mandates
The VP Welfare to set up a contact within the Department of Social Protection that can be used by SU officers’ when resolving issue with BTEA

 

 

 

15 WE 13 Mental Health Awareness

Congress acknowledges

The success of mental health awareness through the ‘Chats for Change’ and ‘See Change’ campaigns which have a significant focus on talking to someone about mental health and an individual’s well-being.

Congress notes

That although talking is a crucial message to the campaigns, some individuals require the use of Anti-depressants or Anti-Anxiety medication etc.

Congress Further notes

That the lack of information around the use of medication can lead to stigmatisation of individuals who use medication for mental health issues and can cause a great deal of distress for individuals who have the use of medication suggested to them upon presenting to a GP on a mental health issue.

Congress therefore mandates

The Vice-President for Welfare to include information on the use of medication in relation to mental health issues as part of their on-going mental health campaigns.

 

15 WE 14 Barrier Free Access to Support Services

Congress notes:

The importance of supports services for students of our institutions which provide support in the areas of physical and mental health.

Congress further notes:

That these support services are of vital importance to students in the context of the prevalence of mental health and emotional difficulties among our members.

Congress therefore mandates:

That the VP Welfare would lobby for the provision of, as far as is possible, barrier free access to support services (e.g. health centres, counselling, etc.) on campus and would invest appropriately therein.  

 

 

 

15 WEL 15 Sexual Consent Awareness and Training

Congress notes

There are many incidences of sexual harassment or assault that occur on campuses right across the country. Sexual harassment is behaviour that is “unwanted, persistent and of a sexual nature”. Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  • Unwanted sexual comments (including comments about your body or private life);
  • Unwelcome sexual invitations, innuendoes and offensive gestures;
  • Wolf whistling, catcalling or offensive sexual noises;
  • Groping, pinching or smacking of your body;

(e) Having your skirt or top lifted without consent;

(f) Someone exposing their sexual organs to you without consent.

Congress is aware

That there is no current form of consent training being provided to students in Ireland. As a consequence, there is a culture in third-level institutions where unwanted sexual contact and harassment has become normalised and is seen as an acceptable part of the college experience for many students.

Congress believes

  1. That all students have the right to be, and feel, safe on campus.
  2. That sexual harassment can cause serious distress and have a seriously detrimental effect on people’s well-being.
  3. That Students’ Unions need to educate its members about what sexual harassment is and the effects it has on people, in order to change people’s attitudes so that sexual harassment is no longer seen as acceptable.

Congress notes

That a form of consent training was provided to Freshers on a trial basis in Oxford University, Cambridge University, and a number of other institutions in the UK, and that USI should learn from this.

Congress mandates

The VP Equality and Citizenship, in consultation with VP Welfare, to endeavour to run consent training for SUs, so that all sabbatical officers are educated about sexual harassment and assault, and are trained to deal with reports of sexual harassment and assault more effectively and sensitively.

Congress further mandates

VP Equality and Citizenship, in consultation with VP Welfare, Cosc and any other relevant bodies, to design and implement a programme of consent training to be delivered during orientation/Freshers Week.

 

15 WE 16 Students with Learning Disabilities

USI Congress Notes:

The excellent work done by USI in the area of representation for students with disabilities.

USI Congress further Notes:

That, in the past, campaigns regarding students with disabilities have tended to focus primarily on students with physical disabilities.

USI Congress notes with Regret:

The lack of attention which has been paid during this campaigning to students with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, autism, etc.

USI Congress further notes with Concern:

That, for students with learning disabilities, services in third level institutes can be sorely lacking in some cases, thus placing a great barrier between such students and their access to education.

USI Congress Reaffirms:

That every student has a right to access to third-level education.

USI Congress Mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship and The Vice President for Welfare to run a campaign before the end of October in each academic year to inform students with any disability what support services should be available to them.

15 WE 17 RENT CONTROLS

Congress notes with concern:

The escalating housing crisis nationwide and the impact that this has had on the student population.

Congress notes with further concern:

The extent to which students must fend for themselves in the private-rental market and that this is now a serious issue for higher education access.

Congress condemns:

The almost entirely developer-led approach to student housing in Ireland and the lack of useful action by the government since USI highlighted the student side of the crisis in the summer of 2014.

Congress notes:

Recent calls by the Peter McVerry Trust, Threshold and We’re Not Leaving (among others) for the imposing on emergency rent controls on the private rental sector.

Congress affirms:

That at the very least, with 9 month leases now a thing of the past and with students being forced to suffer longer commutes, rocketing rents, hostels, couches and in some cases, having to drop out, there is no practical alternative other than some form of emergency rent control for the foreseeable future.

Congress mandates:

The President and the VP Welfare to work with appropriate bodies to lobby and campaign for some level of emergency rent control of the private sector and to report back to National Council in August.

 

 

 

15 WE 18 OPPOSITION TO THE PRIVITISATION OF BUS ROUTES

 

Congress notes with concern:

Government plans to open up a number of bus routes in Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann to private providers.

Congress also notes:

That longer commutes have a seriously negative impact on one’s mental health, as well as one’s student experience.

Congress affirms:

That public transport is a service that students depend upon and that its’ primary aim should not be ‘for profit’.

Congress notes with concern:

That USI’s pre-budget submission seriously highlighted that Ireland’s approach to students and public transport is lacking in comparison to most of the rest of Europe.

Congress mandates:

USI to express its opposition to further privatisation of public transport roots and that rather, the VP Welfare should arrange for a policy position and campaign that seeks to increase state-run, student-oriented transport services.

An update should be provided for the August 2015 National Council.

 

 

15 WE 19 Student Bereavement

Congress Notes

Many Students who suffer from bereavement during their time in college can have effect on their mental health, finances and academic performance.

Congress therefore mandates

The VP for Welfare to co-ordinate a campaign with literature that provides support, advice and support services to students who are suffering from bereavement.

Congress also mandates

The USI VP for Welfare to provide training to Welfare Officers to support students in this position as well as providing links to organisations who work in the area of bereavement.

15 WE 20 USI Grant Reform Policy

Congress Approves:

The adoption of the USI Grant Reform Policy.   (See www.usi.ie)

 

15 WE 21 Higher Education Authority Core Access Grant

 

Congress Notes

That the Access Grant, used for the Student Assistance Fund (SAF) and Student Disabilities Fund (SDF), is awarded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), and that there are no strict guidelines as to how this funding is used.

Congress Further Notes

The lack of guidelines from the HEA, has led to a lack of transparency as to how the Access Fund is divided between the SAF and SDF, and also in relation to how the funding is spent.

Congress Believes

That there should be specific guidelines set in place by the HEA, as to how Institutes allocate funding from the Access Grant to the SAF and to the services supported by the SDF.

Congress Mandates

The President through their Chair on the HEA, to seek a full review of the Access Grant.

Congress Further Mandates

The President through their chair on the HEA, to seek the implementation of stricter guidelines surrounding the spending of the Core Access Grant and report their findings to National Council.

 

 

15 WE 22 Emergency Accommodation

Congress Notes

That the accommodation crisis is likely to see students struggling, again, to find accommodation for the 2015/2016 Academic Year.

Congress Further Notes

That many students are not in a position to commute while they search for accommodation and that temporary accommodation prices, e.g.  B&B’s, hostels etc., can often be expensive leaving students in a vulnerable place financially.

Congress therefore mandates

The Vice President for Welfare to investigate the possibility of arranging discounted temporary accommodation, that Member Organisations can refer students to.

 

15 WE 23 Liaison with Student Accommodation Staff


Congress Notes:

That many students move far away from home and that many choose Student

Residences as their term accommodation.


Congress Further Notes:

That some students may experience bullying or harassment in their student residences.


Congress mandates:

The VP Welfare to liaise with various organisations to promote Anti-bullying awareness, disclosure

training and any other relevant training to Student Residence staff to ensure that staff are trained

and able to deal with any issues that may arise for students living in affiliated Student residences.

 

15 WE 24 SUSI Representation

Congress notes

The importance of student representation by the Vice-President of Welfare on the SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) advisory body.

 

Congress further notes

The importance of National Council Working Groups as a forum to express student issues such as SUSI issues and that issues relating to SUSI casework may fall under the remit of Welfare and Education Officers in their respective SU’s.

 

Congress notes with regret

That the Vice-President of Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance does not directly deal with SUSI issues at Education Working Group and must invite the Vice-President of Welfare to attend the EWG in order for sabbatical officers’ queries and issues to be addressed.

 

Congress mandates

That the Education Working Group should be able to put SUSI issues on the agenda without having the Vice-President of Welfare in attendance if for some reason he/she is unavailable.

 

Congress further mandates

For the Vice-President of Welfare and Vice-President of Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance to lobby the Department of Education for a second seat on the SUSI advisory body to allow students to be represented on issues relating to welfare and quality assurance.

15 WE 25 Gambling

Congress notes

The addictive nature of gambling and how easily accessible gambling can be with development of apps such as Paddy Power and close proximity of  betting outlets to  third level campuses.

Congress notes with concern

Evidence of gambling that is frequently appearing on bank statements through Student Assistance Fund Applications and the number of students who are   faced with growing debt problems due to gambling.

Congress further notes

 In an article on the Irish Examiner last March, Paul Mullins of Aiseiri, warns that among under-25s, as many as 90% start gambling on a handheld device. The alarming aspect of online gambling is that it reverses the trend of normal gambling given that it is overwhelmingly dominated by those under 25.

The Institute of Public Health said its studies indicated that gambling among young people was thought to be three times more prevalent than those aged over 21 years – a trend entirely attributed to online sites.

Congress Mandates

The Vice President for Welfare  to work with the relevant organisations to develop a campaign to inform students of the effects of gambling and  recognising an addiction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 WEL 1      UPDATE USI ALCOHOL POLICY

Congress notes:

The motion passed, without objection, at USI National Council in November 2013 which ceased all workings with Drinkaware.ie and MEAS.

Congress believes:

USI should only work with independent experts on alcohol awareness and should be proactive on this issue.

Congress acknowledges:

USI Alcohol Policy 2012-2015

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to work with various bodies including Alcohol Action Ireland and Alcohol Forum to update the USI Alcohol Policy.

Congress also mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to include proposed actions on pricing, availability and marketing, training and support for local Students’ Unions and proposed actions on a national alcohol awareness campaign. This must be completed before November 2014.

 

14 WEL 2      SMOKING CESSATION

Congress notes:

That smoking levels in Ireland, although decreasing, remain at around 23% for young adults and 7,000 people die from smoking related disease every year.

Congress further notes:

The current trend in some public institutes to ban smoking on their premise. Whilst this may help deter some smokers, current research shows that many smokers report they would rather quit smoking completely.

Congress affirms:

That it is best practice to provide evidence-based and approved methods of smoking cessation.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to work with all relevant bodies in the promotion of smoking cessation to students across both Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Vice President should present plans of this campaign by November 2014.

 

14 WEL 3      CASEWORK TRAINING

Congress notes:

The high levels of casework Students’ Union officers deal with on a yearly basis.

Congress further notes:

The need for training and support throughout the year when handling large number of individual cases.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare, in consultation with other members of Officer Board, to organise intensive casework training for Students’ Union officers each year. This training must include; referral, role plays, data protection and managing casework records. This training must be completed before September each year.

 

14 WEL 4      APPLIED SUICIDE INTERVENTION SKILLS TRAINING (ASIST) FOR STUDENTS’ UNION OFFICERS

Congress notes:

According to the CSO figures, there were 507 suicides registered in 2012 or 11 per 100,000 of the population.

Congress believes:

Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention and that Students’ Unions need to be equipped with the skills to intervene in a possible suicide if it arises. The more people who feel confident and willing to explore possible signs of suicide risk and provide support and help, the more lives could be saved.

Congress acknowledges:

ASIST, the two-day interactive workshop in suicide first-aid that is highly beneficial. It encourages honest, open and direct talk about suicide as part of preparing people to provide suicide first aid.

Congress acknowledges:

That specific ASIST for Students’ Union officers was delivered for the first time in December 2013.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to organise Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) each year for Students’ Union Officers. This must be completed by September each year.

 

 

14 WEL 5      USI MENTAL HEALTH STRATEGY

Congress notes:

13 / WEL 13 MENTAL HEALTH STRATEGY

Congress further notes:

The creation of ‘Student Lives, Minds and Wellbeing’ in 2010.

Congress reaffirms:

The importance of having a Mental Health Strategy within USI to guide the VP for Welfare on all work relating to mental health. Congress therefore adopts the proposed USI Mental Health Strategy 2014-2017

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to implement the USI Mental Health Strategy and assist local officers in following through with its recommendations by disseminating the strategy at the start of the year as well as providing support and training throughout the year.

 

14 WEL 6      AVAILABILITY OF COUNSELLORS IN THIRD LEVEL EDUCATION

Congress notes:

A study commissioned by the Institute of Guidance Counsellors that found cutbacks have significantly reduced the time available for one-to-one student counselling in schools.

Congress notes with concern:

Reports from Welfare Officers, that waiting lists for an appointment with Counselling services are at least two weeks with some students waiting up to 6 weeks in extreme cases and also the increasing numbers of students reporting mental health issues.

Congress further notes:

That there is an embargo on hiring of more public sector staff and that many Institutes may not be able to afford to hire more counselling staff either.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to lobby the relevant bodies including the Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People to lift the embargo on the hiring of counselling staff in Higher Education Institutes and for increased funding to be given specifically for the provision of adequate Counselling services to all Third Level Students either through the direct employment of more Counsellors or in purchasing external counselling session hours.

 

14 WEL 7      STUDENT ASSISTANCE FUND

Congress notes:

The importance of the Student Assistance Fund (SAF) and the role it plays to support students in hardship across the country. 83

Congress notes with concern:

How quickly the SAF has run out in many Higher Education Institutions around the country showing the increased strain on students’ financial situation.

Congress affirms:

That with the current plight of student finances across the country, the current allocation of funds to student hardship is not fit for purpose.

Congress mandates:

That the President and the Vice President Welfare to campaign for increased funding for the SAF scheme, and to update National Council in August 2014.

 

14 WEL 8      USI MOTION: BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT POLICY

Congress notes:

As a result of the autonomous nature of policy making each HEI will have a different approach with how to deal with bereavement.

Congress therefore observes:

The creation of bereavement policies within each HEI.

Congress welcomes:

The structure that they provide on how each institute handles the death of a student or the death of a student’s guardian/friend.

Congress notes:

That the Students’ Union is often a source of comfort, familiarity and support to students who have suffered a bereavement.

Congress believes:

It would be beneficial for all MOs to have a uniformed bereavement policy to assist the Students’ Union with a bereavement of a student or a student’s next-of-kin.

Congress therefore mandates:

The VP for Welfare to find out the best practice of MOs regarding their individual bereavement policies and come up with a uniformed policy for MOs to use in the case of a bereavement. This mandate should be fulfilled by September 2014.

 

14 WEL 9      STUDENTS IN REMOTE AREAS

Congress observes:

That many colleges have courses in which students can be based in remote areas for much of the duration of their course.

Congress believes:

That students in rural areas can feel a sense of isolation and issues such as mental health, alcohol abuse and road safety can be prevalent among students in these areas.

Congress further believes:

That it can be difficult for MO’s to reach these campuses to be of support to these students and many of the campuses where these students may be based are far from central student support services and local support services.

Congress applauds:

That some organisations have made efforts to tackle the above issues in rural communities i.e. Headstrong have set up Jigsaw Centres in communities in many parts of Ireland.

Congress believes:

That there should be more focus put on supporting our students in remote areas and communities

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare and Regional Vice Presidents to support MO’s who are faced with this issue and to work with MO’s on developing a support system or campaign in order to reach out to these students.

 

14 WEL 10    WATER SAFETY

Congress observes:

That many students and young people are not aware of water safety and the harms of swimming or activity, in and around unsupervised open waters.

Congress notes with regret:

The total number of drowning’s in 2012 were 147(Accidental 65, Suicide 4, Undetermined 33). There were many more in 2013 due to the hot weather during the summer months.

 

Congress applauds:

The work of Irish Water Safety in promoting water safety and local Civil Defense groups in the emergency response service they provide.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to run a water safety mini- campaign on water safety in promoting water safety and awareness.

 

14 WEL 11    MORNING AFTER PILL

Congress notes:

The cost of the Morning After Pill is currently unregulated here in Ireland, and prices vary hugely throughout counties, cities, towns and pharmacy chains in Ireland.

Congress further notes:

Getting the morning After Pill can set you back anywhere from €10 to €45 or even higher.

Congress believes:

That a standard, maximum price should be set for the Morning After Pill, so that women are aware of how much the drug will cost them irrespective of where they live.

Congress therefore mandates:

The VP Welfare to engage with other groups who are campaigning for maximum pricing for emergency contraception, including the Real Productive Health campaign, with the aim of setting a national maximum price for emergency contraception.

 

14 WEL 14    CONTINUITY OF THE HEAR ACCESS PROGRAMME

Congress notes:

The continued excellent work of the Access Service within third level higher education. Through the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR), the Access Service at colleges’ discretion, supplies an “access grant” to students, and also allows students to apply for an access Students Assistance Fund (SAF). While the Access Scheme is allocated funding from the SAF, Access students can chose to apply for the Access Scheme SAF finance support or for the general SAF finance support (this finance support is usually larger).

Congress further notes:

The lack of structure, continuity and shared information amongst colleges and institutes nationally in relation to their access schemes, and particularly their distributions and allocating of access SAF funds.

 

Congress further notes:

The lack of dialogue within USI in relation to the Higher Education Access Route and information available to elected Students’ Union representatives in relation to the Higher Education Access Route and access schemes.

Congress mandates:

That the USI Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance, along with the USI Vice President for Welfare, to investigate the Access Scheme on a national level and to prepare a report for National Council in December 2014.

Congress further mandates:

The USI President to ensure that a workshop in relation to the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) takes place annually at Students’ Union Training.

 

14 WEL 16    STUDENT SUICIDE

Congress notes with regret:

The continual loss of student’s lives to suicide.

Congress notes:

The importance of local officers in the support structure for students who have experienced bereavement and who are contemplating taking their own life by suicide.

Congress further notes:

The importance of comprehensive training in bereavement support for local officers.

Congress mandates:

The VP for welfare to ensure that Safetalk training are offered to all Welfare Officers and any other officer who wish to avail of such training by September before students return to college.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 WEL 1      THE EFFECT OF THE BUDGET ON MENTAL HEALTH

Congress notes:

Budget 2013 (announced on Wednesday the 5th of December 2012) has put adverse financial pressure on students with the increase in student contribution charge and the 3% cut to the maintenance grant threshold which will come into effect from academic year 2013/2014.

Congress notes with concern:

The rate of suicide in Ireland and feels that increased financial pressure may add to the issue.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to lobby the Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health & Older People to challenge the Minister for Education on the effects that the rising student contribution charge and 3% cut to the maintenance grant has on the mental health of students in Ireland.

13 WEL 2      CAMPAIGN TO RAISE AWARENESS OF EATING DISORDERS

Congress commends:

The work of USI Welfare campaigns in the past, and their role in raising awareness of mental health issues such as depression.

Congress notes with concern:

That according to The Department of Health, up to 200,000 people in Ireland suffer from eating disorders, with numbers growing every year, and that many of those affected are teens and young people.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President, Welfare to roll out Healthy Eating Campaigns every year, which include a drive to raise awareness of the various forms of eating disorders.

This mandate to expire after a period of 3 years, if not re-approved by Congress.

 

13 WEL 3      SEXUAL HEALTH CAMPAIGN IN FIRST SEMESTER

Congress notes:

Fifty five per cent of Irish 18-year-olds will leave secondary school without any formal sexual health education, according to The Durex Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey, 2012.

Congress further notes:

The need to educate students on all aspects of sexual health when they first entry third level.

 

 

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to coordinate a campaign focused on sexual health in first semester, focusing on engaging first year students.

 

13 WEL 6      SEXUAL HEALTH CAMPAIGN IN FIRST SEMESTER

Congress notes:

Fifty five per cent of Irish 18-year-olds will leave secondary school without any formal sexual health education, according to The Durex Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey, 2012.

Congress further notes:

The need to educate students on all aspects of sexual health when they first entry third level and throughout their college years.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to coordinate a campaign focused on sexual health in first semester, focusing on engaging first year students to promote positive attitudes towards sex in addition to SHAG Week each February.

 

13 WEL 7      MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE FUNDING

Congress notes with concern:

The situation whereby funding specifically allocated to mental health services has recently been cut or failed to be spent by the Government, as part of efforts to offset the deficit in the budget of the Health Service Executive.

Congress condemns:

The failure on the part of Government to meet commitments on monies allocated to provide and prioritise mental health services in Ireland, at a time when mental health issues and suicide are such a major concern in this country, particularly amongst young people.

Congress mandates:

The USI President and VP for Welfare to call on the Government in the strongest possible terms to ensure that commitments to fund mental health services are met in future Budgets, and for the speedy roll-out of service developments for which these monies were earmarked.

 

13 WEL 8      PROVSISON OF ALTERNATIVES FOR THE STUDENT ASSISTANCE FUND

Congress notes with concern:

The ever growing number of requests for emergency funding through the Student Assistance

Fund (SAF) nationally.

Congress acknowledges:

That for the academic year 2012/2013 the SAF has already been fully subscribed.

Congress realises:

That the number of requests for food and other staples has risen dramatically, and thus the drastic situation now faced by students due to the complete lack of SAF funding.

Congress mandates:

The President and Vice President, Welfare to actively engage and seek partnerships with major retailers to make available free, or heavily discounted, food supplies to colleges nationwide to help ease the already stressful situation faced by those most at risk.

Progress should be reported back to National Council by December 2013.

 

13 WEL 9      STUDENT ASSISTANCE FUND

Congress notes:

12/ WEL 1 Student Assistance Fund Harmonisation Study

Congress further notes:

‘SAF: Best Practice Framework 2013’. This document contains an in depth explanation into the Student Assistance Fund, results from the study completed, an analysis of various practises in place and best practise framework.

Congress therefore mandates:

Vice President of Welfare of Vice President for Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance to bring this document to the National Office for Equity of Access to Higher Education and to lobby the HEA to redraft the guidelines of the Student Assistance Fund for the academic year 2014/2015 to include recommendations to increase the efficiency of systems.

Congress further mandates:

Vice President for Welfare of Vice President for Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance to provide briefing to Member  Organisations on all aspects of SAF and to provide Member Organisations with relevant information and support to seek representation on all committees relating to the SAF on their campus.

 

13 WEL 10    INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS TENANCY DISPUTES

Congress notes:

The increased amount of issues and dispute between landlords and tenants and the duration of time that elapses between cases being put forward for hearing, to the actual date of hearing.

Congress further notes:

Many international students come to study for just one academic year but that there is a means of having representation there in place of the applicant/defendant.

Congress further notes:

There is an informal recourse for such students that they can ask for an emergency hearing but ‘Emergency hearings’ are not always granted.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare and Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to engage The Private Residency Tenancy Board to negotiate a specific channel for such emergency cases for International Students and/or students that will be emigrating.

 

13 WEL 11    STUDY ON COUNSELLING

Congress notes:

A study commissioned by the Institute of Guidance Counsellors that found cutbacks have significantly reduced the time available for one-to-one student counselling in schools.

Congress notes with concern:

There is no equivalent study on this issue relating to third level counselling which needs to be addressed following reports from Welfare Officers that students often wait two weeks for an appointment.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to conduct a study on the effects of budget cuts on counselling services and in turn the danger which could leave young people at further risk. The results from the study carried out can be used to lobby Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health & Older People prior to Budget 2014.

 

13 WEL 12    CYBERBULLYING POLICY

Congress notes:

The lack of policy in the area of Cyberbullying.

Congress further notes:

With the increased use of social media there are more risks for young people to become targets or victims and even aggressors of Cyberbullying. There is a lack of awareness and understanding on the topic on Cyberbullying.

Congress therefore adopts the proposed:

USI Cyberbullying Policy

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to both follow the USI Cyberbullying Policy and assist local officers in the following through with it’s recommendations and action points.

 

13 WEL 13    MENTAL HEALTH STRATEGY

Congress notes:

08/WEL 5 mandating the creation of a USI Mental Health Strategy.

Congress applauds:

The creation of Student Lives, Minds and Wellbeing – The USI Mental Health Strategy 2010-2013.

Congress notes:

The importance of having a Mental Health Strategy and the need to update existing strategies due to expire.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to create a new USI Mental Health Strategy with specific reference to reducing stigma, to be completed by January 2014.

 

13 WEL 14    SEXUAL VIOLENCE

Congress notes:

That the Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship has worked closely with the

Centre for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (Cosc). This relationship was instrumental in the compilation and promotion of the 2012/2013 USI ‘Say Something’ survey into students’ experiences of violence.

Congress highly commends:

The initiatives taken and work being conducted on sexual assault prevention and awareness-raising around issues of consent in a number of Member Organisations, specifically in the form of the ‘Don’t be that Guy’ campaign.

Congress believes that:

The victim is never to blame in incidences of sexual assault and/or rape. The ‘Don’t be that Guy’ campaign is particularly powerful and effective because it uses language that is directed at potential perpetrators rather than language that contributes to victim blaming and rape culture.

Congress mandates:

The Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship to work with Member Organisations to

coordinate a national campaign on sexual assault prevention and awareness-raising ‘Say Something’ survey and would preferably have an element that would coincide with around issues of consent. This campaign should be informed by the results of the USI induction and orientation periods in higher education institutions. This campaign should also be as inclusive as possible of all genders and sexualities.

Congress further mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship and all members of USI Officer Board to ensure that any campaigns conducted by USI on area of sexual violence use the appropriate language and  never contribute to culture of victim blaming or rape culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 WEL 1      STUDENT ASSISTANCE FUND HARMONISATION STUDY

Congress notes with approval:

The recently announced increase in government funding to the Student Assistance Fund.

Congress however notes with concern:

That the source of this funding was reallocated from other student support funds, where the broad picture remains one of desperate underfunding.

Congress further notes:

That the Student Assistance Fund varies dramatically in its methodology of administration from institution to institution, and in some cases within institutions themselves.

Congress asserts:

That best practice in this area can be made common practice only with accurate data knowledge and effective monitoring.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance and the Vice President for Welfare to carry out a complete study of the administration of the Student Assistance Fund (to be complete  by the 31st of December  2012) and author  a best practice  framework for adoption  at USI Annual Congress  2013.

 

12 WEL 2      STUDENT ACCOMMODATION

Congress notes:

That a number of student accommodation villages have gone into receivership in the past couple of years.

Congress notes with concern:

That  this  has  caused  financial  uncertainty for students and  their  families  and  that  the welfare of students has been put at risk.

Congress congratulates:

The Welfare Officer and Officer Board for their dedicated hard work with regard to the introduction of the Deposit Protection Scheme and the production of the useful annual resource of the USI Rent Book.

Congress mandates:

The VP / Welfare to formulate a policy document on the entitlements of students when their designated student villages go into receivership. This should involve offering support and advice to MOs if the situation arises and some points of information on the issue should be included in the USI Rent Book. The mandate shall lapse after three years from being passed at congress.

12 WEL 3      SEXUAL HEALTH WEB SITE

Congress notes:

There is large amount of paper material distributed in conjunction with sexual health campaigns.

Congress recognizes:

The lack of a one-stop shop for sexual health information and support services on line.

Congress mandates the Welfare Vice President:

To develop an all-inclusive web site which will contain relevant information about sexual health that can be used in conjunction with sexual health campaigns.

Motion shall apply for 3 years.

 

12 WEL 4      ALCOHOL ABUSE

Congress notes:

That alcohol consumption in Ireland doubled between 1970 and 2003, one the largest increases in the world during that period (Byrne, 2010).

Congress recognises:

Though consumption has fallen slightly since 2003, Irish consumption at 13.4 litres of pure alcohol per person is the second highest in the OECD (Mongan, 2007).

Congress notes with concern:

That the increase in alcohol consumption has caused a corresponding increase in alcohol related harms in Irish society, including alcohol related accidents and illnesses, alcohol related crime, alcohol related domestic abuse and alcohol related absences from work (Hope, 2008).

Congress understands:

That the Department of Health (RoI) and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (NI) have held a North South conference on alcohol misuse in January to explore some of the common issues in relation to the alcohol culture on both sides of the border.  Both Departments recognizing the scope for sharing information and evidence based material, on an all-island basis, in a number of areas including the tackling of alcohol abuse.

Congress believes:

That the issue of alcohol abuse significantly impacts on the welfare of our members. Furthermore, that we as representatives; entrusted with protecting the interests our members, should be proactive in addressing the issue of alcohol abuse.

Congress mandates the President, the Vice President for Welfare:

To engage with the Department of Health (RoI), the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (NI), before July 2013 in addressing the issue of alcohol abuse.

12 WEL 5      EXAM STRESS PACKS

Congress notes:

That many students experience, incidences of elevated stress and anxiety around the examination period.

Congress notes with concern:

The affects of increased stress and anxiety on students’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, and the subsequent impact on their examination performance.

Congress congratulates:

The Welfare Officer and members of Officerboard for their hard work in tacking issues surrounding students’ physical, mental, and emotional welfare.

Congress believes:

That students should be provided with adequate support and guidance around the issue of stress and anxiety, including how to diagnose the condition, what affects it has on students, what self help techniques are recommended, and general management advice.

Congress mandates the Vice President for Welfare:

To develop and source a stress pack and booklet to be distributed to MO’s before the winter and summer exams. These should be available for December 2012.

 

12 WEL 6      DRINK RESPONSIBLY CAMPAIGN

Congress notes:                                                                                                                         

That alcohol consumption has increased substantially in the past number of years and Ireland now consumes more alcohol per adult than most of its European counterparts.

Congress is saddened:

By the linkages drawn between alcohol and related harm, with reference to a report by the HSE in 2008, including;  injuries, hospital  admissions,  mortality, driving, street  violence, domestic violence, and road injuries.

Congress applauds:

The Welfare Officer for engaging with Drink Aware, and other related groups in creating awareness about excessive alcohol consumption, and promoting the responsible consumption of alcohol.

Congress believes:

That the issue of alcohol abuse significantly impacts on the welfare of our members.

Congress further believes:

That as student representatives we should be proactive in creating awareness around the issue of excessive alcohol consumption, and campaign for responsibility in this area.

Congress mandates the Vice President for Welfare:

To develop and implement  a USI National Drink Responsibly Campaign before July 2013, and to carry out same on an annual  basis thereafter  in order to create awareness  around alcohol consumption rates, and encourage its responsible consumption.

 

12 WEL 7      SUICIDE PREVENTION CAMPAIGN

Congress notes:

The level of work the previous Welfare Officer has put into the Mental Health Campaign for the student population.

Congress also notes:

The difficulty in designing a campaign or highlighting the issue of suicide prevention/awareness which is not threatening to students.

Congress recognises:

That suicide remains a key issue for students.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Welfare Officer to organise, design and run a National Suicide Prevention Campaign that would be rolled out right across the Country on a Specific Day.

 

12 WEL 9      PHYSICAL HEALTH STRATEGY FOR USI

Congress notes:

11/WEL 02 mandating the creation of a USI Physical Health Strategy.

Congress therefore adopts the proposed:

USI Physical Health Strategy 2012-2015

Congress mandates:

The Welfare Vice President to both follow the USI Physical Health Strategy and assist local officers in following through  with its recommendations by disseminating the strategy at the start of the year as well as providing  support  and training throughout the year.

This motion should apply for three years.

 

 

12 WEL 10    ALCOHOL POLICY FOR USI

Congress notes:

11/ Wel 4 mandates the creation  of strategy  documents in the main areas of work for the welfare officer, including sexual health, finance, physical health, accommodation, alcohol awareness, substance abuse and any others that are appropriate.

Congress therefore adopts the proposed:

USI Alcohol Policy 2012-2015

Congress therefore deletes:

11/ Wel 11 Anti Social Behavior Campaign

10/ Wel 3 Student and Alcohol

10/ Wel 8 Anti-Social Behavior

09/ Wel 8 Drug Awareness

09/ 13 Alcohol Awareness Campaign

Congress mandates the Welfare Vice President:

To both follow the USI Alcohol Policy and assist local officers in following through with its recommendations and action points by disseminating the policy at the start of the year as well as providing support and training throughout the year.

This motion should apply for three years.

 

12 WEL 13    SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Congress notes:

That substance abuse is a growing problem in Irish society.

Congress further notes:

09/Wel 5 – Counselling Service and 09/Wel 8 – Drug awareness mandates as these demonstrate the need for a formulated strategy document to be created in the area of substance abuse.

Congress mandates the Welfare Vice President:

To create a Substance abuse strategy document that would contain information in relation to drug awareness, campaigns, how to combat addictions and other items deemed essential to be included by welfare working group. Appropriate training should be provided for Welfare Officers over the summer period so they can handle cases in this area.

This motion shall apply till December 2012.

 

12 WEL 14    EXAM STRESS CAMPAIGN

Congress notes:

The work that MOs put into Exam Stress Campaigns across the Country in the run up to Exams.

Congress further notes:

The lack of support on a National Level to the roll out of these Campaigns and the lack of an overall Exam Stress Campaign.

Congress mandates the VP/South, VP/BMW and the Welfare Officer:

To investigate the possibility of sourcing the materials, supplying and distributing ‘Exam Stress Packs’ to the MOs along with a resource pack that contains information on support services for the students.

 

11 WEL 1      LEGAL ISSUES

REAPPROVED 2015

Congress notes:

The regularity with which local welfare officers encounter situations with legal ambiguity e.g. cases involving sexual, physical abuse, accommodation issues etc

Congress further notes:

Often welfare officers feel underequipped to deal with or are unaware of their legal responsibilities in these situations.

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare Officer:

To liaise with relevant organisations to produce a legal factsheet on the situations that frequently arise throughout a typical Academic year. The Welfare Officer should also provide training if necessary on certain legal aspects as requested by welfare working group.

Congress notes:

It is not possible for this factsheet to be exhaustive or to be equivalent to legal advice, but all efforts should be made to be as comprehensive as possible.

 

11 WEL 2      PHYSICAL HEALTH

REAPPROVED 2015

Congress notes:

The lack of mandates and policy on the issue of students and physical health.

Congress notes with concern:

The tendency of young people to sacrifice physical health for academic achievement through lack of sleep, lack of exercise and poor diet.

Congress further notes:

The diet, exercise and lifestyle play a vital role in a students’ ability to engage productively with their education.

Congress therefore mandates the welfare officer:

To design a strategy document on physical health, making reference to the following:-

  • Stress Management
  • Access to healthcare
  • Awareness of prevalent illnesses
  • Cost and value for money of student gyms
  • Availability of non-competitive sport
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Sports Clubs
  • Training at UOS for welfare officers
  • Relevance of physical health to mental health.
  • Body image and eating disorders

This document should incorporate relevant mandates from the USI Policy Manual.

 

11 WEL 3      UPDATING IRISH LAW IN REGARD TO SEXUAL ASSAULT

 REAPPROVED 2015

Congress notes:

The outdated nature of current legislation relating to crimes of a sexual nature.

Congress further notes:

That the number of people utilising the services provided by organizations such as one in four and the Dublin rape crisis centre is much higher than the number of cases of crimes of a sexual nature that are reported and that the number of reported cases that are tried are much lower again.

Congress regrets:

The inconsistencies with regard to gender, maximum sentencing and definition of sexual assault in Irish law in comparison with the law in other countries and the effect that this poor legislation has on the victims of sexual assault, rape etc.

Congress mandates the Welfare and Equality Officers:

To lobby the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform for a thorough review of all legislation relating to crimes of a sexual nature and to liaise with groups such as One in Four, the IFPA and the DRCC in achieving this mandate.

 

11 WEL 4      WELFARE STRATEGY DOCUMENTS

REAPPROVED 2015

Congress notes:

The usefulness of a coherent, streamlined strategy in areas such as mental health, sexual health, finance etc

Congress further notes:

The lack of coherent, streamlined USI policy in these areas bar mental health.

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare officer:

To create strategy documents in the main areas of work for the welfare officer, including sexual health, finance, physical health, accommodation, alcohol awareness, substance abuse and any others that are appropriate. This work should be done in conjunction with welfare working group and any other appropriate outside organisations.

These strategies should incorporate relevant mandates from the USI Policy Manual. These documents should be brought for preliminary approval to National Council.

Congress further mandates the Welfare Officer:

To bring these documents forward to the nearest Congress for ratification.

 

11 WEL 5      USI MENTAL HEALTH STRATEGY

REAPPROVED 2015

Congress notes:

08/WEL 5 mandating the creation of a USI Mental Health Strategy.

Congress applauds:

The creation of Student Lives, Minds and Wellbeing – The USI Mental Health Strategy 2010-2013.

Congress therefore deletes:

09-WEL 10 – Free Pack

09/ WEL 7 – Headsup

09/WEL 6- Mental Health Campaign

09/WEL 5 – Counselling Services

09/WEL 4 – Mental Health Information

Congress Mandates the Welfare Officer:

To both follow the USI Mental Health Strategy and assist local officers in following through with its recommendations by disseminating the strategy at the start of the year as well as providing support and training throughout the year.

 

11 WEL 6      MORNING AFTER PILL

REAPPROVED 2015

Congress notes:

09/ WEL 1 Congress mandates:

The USI Welfare Officer to co-ordinate with relevant groups to provide more comprehensive information on the different forms of EC. USI Officer Board to campaign for the introduction of ‘over-the-counter’ emergency contraception for people over the age of 17, as this is the age of consent.

Congress emphasises:

That people are entitled to complete control over their sexual reproduction and fertility, and that freer availability of ECs in Ireland is essential to this intrinsic right.

Congress therefore welcomes:

The recent decision by a leading pharmacy chain to sell the morning after pill over the counter.

Congress also welcomes:

Moves by the Irish Pharmacy Union to emulate this initiative in 1800 of their member pharmacies.

Congress therefore mandates the USI Welfare Officer:

To continue to work with relevant organisations to ensure that the mandate from 09/WEL 1 is fulfilled.

The USI Welfare Officer to work to make EC affordable and accessible to all who need it.

 

11 WEL 7      EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTIVE PILL INFORMATION CAMPAIGN

REAPPROVED 2015

Congress welcomes:

The introduction of the Morning After Pill (MAP) over the counter by Boots Pharmacies in the Republic of Ireland from January 12th 2011.

Congress notes:

That the Morning After Pill does play a role in the decrease of the amount of pregnancies among female students.

Congress further notes:

That many students are unaware of how the MAP works, when the best time is to take it and the issues involved in taking it.

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare Officer:

To run an information campaign about the Morning After Pill and to make it an integral part in future S.H.A.G campaigns.

 

 

11 WEL 8      STUDENT ACCOMMODATION SURVEY

Congress notes:

That students moving away from home for the first time can have enormous difficulty with their accommodation.

Congress further notes:

The great work done by the USI Welfare Officers and local Welfare Officers on developing a Deposit Retention Scheme proposal for the PRTB.

Congress mandates the USI Welfare Officer:

To create an online nationwide student survey on student accommodation with the goal of finding out specific problems that students face, including cost, quality of accommodation and anti-social behaviour. This information could then be used in conjunction with the Deposit Retention Scheme Proposal and other accommodation campaigns in the future.

11 WEL 9      MEN’S HEALTH

Congress notes:

The good work that the USI Welfare Officer and local Welfare Officers do in promoting positive mental, physical and sexual health amongst all students.

Congress mandates the USI Welfare Officer:

To form a link with MHFI (Men’s Health Forum Ireland) and other groups associated with promoting better awareness of men’s health issues.

Congress further mandates the USI Welfare Officer:

To then use these links to provide campaign material, training and advice to welfare officers on how best to improve awareness of these issues to male students.

 

11 WEL 10    DON’T WALK HOME ALONE CAMPAIGN

Congress notes:

The success of the “Don’t walk home alone” campaign that has be run on a number of colleges throughout the county but most notable GMIT.

Congress acknowledges:

The importance in educating our student to be safe when on nights out and they should take precautions to protect themselves

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare Officer and the Area Officers:

To bring this campaign to a national level and to investigate if the “cab now, pay later” initiative can be implemented across all local CO’s.

11 WEL 11    ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR CAMPAIGN

Congress notes:

That unfortunately bad reputation students sometimes receive as a result of incidents of Anti-Social Behaviour.

Congress recognises:

The positive steps made by a number of local CO’s in tackling Anti-Social Behaviour incidents within their community.

Congress further notes:

That these initiatives have further helped create positive links with Students’ Unions and the wider local community.

Congress mandates the Deputy President and the Area Officers:

To work with local CO’s to establish proactive initiatives to tackle Anti-Social Behaviour.

 

11 WEL 12    MONEY MANAGEMENT AWARENESS

Congress notes:

The continuing financial strain that is being placed on families and students at this difficult time.

Congress further notes:

With these hard times, many students are withdrawing from third level college due to financial difficulties.

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare Officer:

To run a Money management awareness week and to also publish a financial guide to aid students with their budgeting problems.

11 WEL 13     STUDENT ASSISTANCE FUND

Congress notes:

The importance of the Student Assistance Fund and the role it plays to support students across the Country.

Congress acknowledges:

That the Student Assistance Fund may be targeted in Government cutbacks.

Congress therefore mandates the President and Deputy President:

To lobby against any cuts to the Student Assistance Fund and to campaign for increased funding

for the fund.

 

 

 

 

 

10 WEL 2      STUDENT PREGNANCY

Congress notes:

The lack of policy and support in the area of student parenting, both for student mothers and students Fathers.

Congress further notes:

That while staff who fall pregnant are recognised under equality law, students exist within a grey area of legislation in this sector and subject to discrimination as the college chooses in terms of concessions and special accommodations.

Congress applauds:

The efforts of institutions such as Mary Immaculate College in the formation of a student parent liaison officer.

Congress mandates:

The Welfare and Equality Officers to research best practice policies on student parents both within Ireland, the UK and beyond with a view to formulate a template for local COs to negotiate with their institutions.

The Welfare and Equality Officers to meet and work with relevant organisations with a view to formulating a policy document for Welfare officers and other relevant CO officers as to how best to support student parents and what supports are needed. Union of Students in Ireland Annual Congress 2010 Comhdhail Bhliaintuil Aontas na Mac Leinn in Eirinn 2010 – 14 – – 14 –

The Welfare and Equality Officers to HEI authorities for better provisions and rights for student parents.

 

10 WEL 6      CERVICAL CANCER             REAPPROVED 2015

Congress notes:                                                                                                              

The expense of this vaccine amounts to approximately €550, including VAT and GP fees for non-medical card holders.

Congress mandates the Welfare Officer:

To lobby the HSE to provide this vaccine in all college and university health centres at an affordable price.

 

10 WEL 7      SEXUAL HEALTH

Congress notes with concern:

The worrying lack of information and knowledge among Student Health Services and other college supports about issues pertaining to lesbian sexual health.

Congress further notes:

That oftentimes, women who identify as lesbian, bisexual or queer are unaware of lesbian sexual health issues.

Congress mandates:

The Welfare Officer to work with the LGBT RO to ensure that the sexual health module at UOS also covers lesbian sexual health issues; so that the welfare officers can be equipped with the knowledge to deal with these issues.

 

10 WEL 8      Anti- Social Behaviour

Congress recognizes:

The fact that a minority of students are causing problems, for local residents and for other students as well. These problems need to be tackled seriously.

That students‟ unions have a key role in educating future generations of tenants – both in the rules they should abide by, and the rights they have too.

Solving issues brought about by some students in local communities is about forming solid, long-lasting partnerships with other stakeholders, such as the local council, the Union of Students in Ireland Annual Congress 2010 Comhdhail Bhliaintuil Aontas na Mac Leinn in Eirinn 2010 – 16 – – 16 – third level institutions, local residents‟ groups etc. in which the students‟ union is seen as a valued and respected player.

Congress mandates:

The deputy president/campaigns officer, the welfare officer and the area officers to assist local students‟ unions to tackle issues that arise from anti-social behaviour.

Congress also mandates:

The forementioned officers run a national information campaign to promote the idea of positive community involvement to the student body.

 

10 WEL 11    NON- ACADEMIC SERVICES

Congress notes:

The current lack of quality assurance systems with regards to an Irish National Policy Framework for non-academic students services provided by the third level institution, such as health centres, counselling services etc.

Congress further notes:

The importance of quality assurance with regard to non-academic aspects of student services.

 

Congress recognizes:

The value of the overall student experience within the higher education system in Ireland.

Congress mandates:

The President and the Welfare Officer to lobby the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Education for the formation of a non-academic student services policy relating to quality assurance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

09 WEL 1      EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION

Congress notes:
Dependant on location, time of week, travel plans, unforeseen circumstances (i.e. sex without consent or awareness) etc. that availing of a doctors appointment for aforesaid prescription may not be possible, and that the efficacy of EC decreases significantly over a 72-hour period.

Congress believes:
That people are entitled to complete control over their sexual reproduction and fertility, and that freer availability of ECs in Ireland is essential to this intrinsic right.

Congress welcomes:
Research carried out on the effects of the ECP introduction in Britain by the British Journal of Medicine that reported: a 10% decrease in the amount of teenage pregnancies with only a 2% increase in those using the ECP following its over-the-counter introduction no reduction in the usage of other contraceptive methods

And the research document prepared for this debate on the myths, realities and physiological & health impacts of the different ECPs by UCC’s Welfare Officer, Keith O’ Brien.

Congress mandate:

The USI Welfare Officer to co-ordinate with relevant groups to provide more comprehensive information on the different forms of EC.

09 WEL 2      ABORTION RIGHTS CAMPAIGN

Congress notes:

That USI is mandated to lobby the government and other relevant bodies to develop greater access to abortion services for all women within the state (06/WEL 6 Abortion).

Congress further notes:

That USI’s involvement in this debate in the past (SPUC vs. Grogan) led to the changing of legislation so that information about abortion could be distributed freely in the state.

Congress recognises:

That in many student unions abroad and indeed in many organisations worldwide the issue of abortion is viewed as an issue of equality and women’s rights  .

Congress further recognises:

That the issue is one of concern for Welfare Officers around the country.

Congress acknowledges:

The establishment of the Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign which aims to end the hypocrisy of exiling women in crisis pregnancy that choose to have an abortion. The campaign includes various strands, including a litigation strand, a public awareness strand and a national and international advocacy strand.

Congress mandates:

The Welfare and Equality Officer to work with the Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign to once again make this issue a priority for Irish Women.

Congress further mandates:

The Welfare and Equality Officer to raise awareness of the Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign to USI members and to support the campaign in any of its actions.

 

09 WEL 4      MENTAL HEALTH INFORMATION

Congress notes:

That there is a stigma surrounding the issue of mental health amongst the student body, and in Irish society generally.

Congress believes:                                                                                        

Welfare Officers of COs are very effective means of dispersing information to students regarding various issues, notwithstanding mental health issues; however issues around mental health still require coverage by Cos, mainly to provide factual information on various mental illnesses and to remove the stigmas associated with said.

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare Officer:

To provide supports to individual Students’ Unions by way of centralised sourcing materials and information, targeting the stigma surrounding mental health issues

To further engage with relevant groups and NGOs to publicise the various means of dealing with mental illness to the wider student population

To run a campaign on the issues raised above.

 

09 WEL 6      MENTAL HEALTH CAMPAIGN

Congress notes:

The huge increase in numbers of international students now studying a 3rd level here in Ireland and how diverse the student population has become

Congress also notes:

The huge impact studying abroad can have on a person and that adapting to a new culture, language, society and surroundings can have a significant effect on a students well being

Congress recognises:

The strength and accomplishments of this year’s Mental Health Campaign

 

Congress mandates:

The Welfare Officer to work in conjunction with the Equality Officer to design campaign materials for the Mental Health Campaign which are specifically aimed at International students and the Welfare Officer in conjunction with the Equality Officer to highlight the specific issues surrounding the specific stresses placed on international students.

09 WEL 7      HEADSUP

Congress notes:

The inclusion of student services on the HEADSUP text service which is run by Rehab.

Congress further notes:

That ease of access to information is important for students in difficulty. This services offers information on resources that are available when students’ services are closed.

Congress mandates the Welfare Officer:

To continue to work with and promote the HEADSUP service as part of the mental health awareness campaign.

 

09 WEL 9      SHAG WEEK

Congress notes:

06 / WEL 6

Congress recognises:

That throughout the year, and particularly during SHAG week, material is distributed by USI to students that contains contact information for crisis pregnancy agencies that only provide two choice information.

Congress mandates the Welfare Officer:

To only provide information from three choice agencies.

 

09 WEL 12    VIOLENCE IN YOUTH RELATIONSHIPS

Congress notes with concern:

That violence within youth relationships is not part of any current campaign within USI

Congress also notes:

That statistics surrounding the prevalence of violence in youth relationships is scarce

 

Congress believes:

That this issue needs to be highlighted among students

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare Officer:

  • To work with various agencies to run a campaign on the issue of violence in youth relationships

 

09 WEL 13    ALCOHOL AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

Congress notes:

08/ WEL 7 (Students and Alcohol) which mandates the prioritisation of the alcohol awareness/reduction campaign.

Congress also notes:

The persistent difficulty in designing a campaign around alcohol awareness which is not patronising to or judgemental of students.

Congress recognises:

That alcohol consumption and over consumption remains a key issue for students.

Congress also recognises:

That students are best placed to assist the Welfare Officer in designing a campaign on this issue.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Welfare Officer to hold 4 regional forums to gather student feedback, opinions and ideas on how best to approach this issue and to present a campaign idea to Welfare Working Group.