Taking a year out in the middle of my degree to advocate for disabled students is one of the best decisions I ever made. As hectic as it can be sometimes, I can’t think of something more rewarding to do with my time. Every day is different in terms of the work I get up to, but they all boil down to the same thing – representing the interests of disabled students.
Most mornings I start the day off on the river. I find it’s really important to keep up your hobbies and put effort in to keeping fit when you work at a desk a lot of the time. The best thing about working at CUSU is that I can work flexible hours, so if I need to make time for a race or some training I can easily fit it around my work – probably more easily than when I was doing my degree!
By 9AM I’m in the office. This is a personal preference because I’m already up and ready from rowing! Our ‘core’ hours are between 11am and 4pm – this is when we’re expected to be in the office or attending committees etc. That means that some sabbs choose to come in later and stay later to get their work done.
This morning I’m getting some admin done – replying to emails, publicising Facebook events, and reading some papers for a committee. On other mornings I might have meetings with the rest of the sabbs or various people across the University.
This morning I’m attending the Accessibility Committee, which discusses issues of inaccessibility (primarily physical) across the University. Today we discussed developing a policy on including gender neutral toilets in all new University buildings, a new reporting system to report accessibility issues, and whether it would be possible to get a cashpoint on Sidgwick site.
Today I’m going out for lunch with my friends for a catch up at Pret. Having a salary means I can sometimes afford to eat out for lunch! But most days I’m happy with eating some leftovers with the rest of the CUSU staff in the lounge.
I’m back from lunch and I am writing the agenda for the next CUSU Disabled Students’ Campaign Forum. Forums are a big part of my job, because it’s where we make decisions as a campaign, and where students can mandate me to take certain stances or do work. Today I’m drafting a statement on the strikes which outlines the stance we might decide to take as a campaign, based on feedback from last term. This will be voted on and amended by disabled students at the upcoming Forum.
An exciting thing I’m doing today is heading to Old Schools to take part in a podcast about women trying to make change in the University. I was asked to speak about the work I’ve done advocating for disabled women, and what I think the problems are which disabled women face in the University and wider society. I really enjoyed doing this, I love being able to share knowledge on causes I’m really passionate about.
Today I got to sit in on a reading group about neurodivergence hosted by two disabled students in the CUSU Lounge. It was great to hear them share their research and thoughts, and I enjoyed being able to chip in with University/Disabled Students’ Campaign context and knowledge where it was relevant.
Tonight I got to host a really well attended panel event called ‘Classically Disabled’ in King’s College – postponed due to strikes from last term’s Disability History Month. It was really interesting to learn about the overlap between Classics and disability studies, especially in regards to ‘disabled villain tropes’ (think Captain Hook). A recording will be available online soon!
Because I worked so late tonight (until 7pm) I’m going to take tomorrow morning off – this is called TOIL (Time Off In Lieu), which is something CUSU provides. It basically means when you work late/on weekends, which as a sabb you can often do, you can take time off later to make up for it.