University of York Students' Union (YUSU)


Why people should run for Access/Disability Rep

Posted by Thomas Ron, 03/11/2014

Hello all

As many of you know JCRC elections are coming up.  These elections are always a great time, where new students get involved and help define their time at York.  It is always great to see an active community.  Therefore, I would like to highlight the importance of the position of Disability Rep (or Access Rep in some colleges).

The position of Disability Rep has been put in all colleges and is responsible for representing, empowering, and helping disabled students.  They are expected to attend the Disabled Students' Network and do their best to ensure that disabled students are having a good time at the University of York.  We define a disabled student as any student who self-defines as disabled, is legally defined as disabled, or utilises Disability Services. 

For many years the positions were often unfilled or filled in co-optation.  Last year was a breakthrough, where every college had elected representatives gone through on the first round.  The results were amazing, as these reps brought new life and new issues to the front of the Disabled Students' Network.  From access in clubs (run by our fantastic Goodricke Reps), which means that more students could enjoy York's nightlife, to hearing loops in lecture theatres (championed by our wonderful duo in Halifax) which ensured that all students could fully participate in their academic life, we saw improvements to the lives of disabled students that would not have gone through without these reps.  We also saw great events, like the second Access Your Future (organised by our reps in Halifax and James) which was an event to bring speakers from a liberation background to talk about their experiences and an amazing Mental Health Awareness Day (masterminded by Vanbrugh's outstanding rep) which raised awareness about the importance of mental health and self-care.

We must keep it up!  For disabled student liberation to be recognised we need elections that are happening at the same time as everyone else.  We require a healthy debate and strong reps who have an electoral mandate from their colleges to progress further.  Therefore, I urge people to please consider standing for this important position, which will make your college a better place for all.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact myself, through my e-mail  Additionally, existing disability reps will be more than happy to speak about their roles and share information, as will Vice Chairs of Welfare on the responsibilities of the role.

If you wish to contact your rep, then please see below for who to contact

Alcuin: Helen Cox -
Constantine: Calum Stewart -
Derwent: Martin Steward -
Goodricke: Callum Dziedzic and Seb Kwong - and
Halifax: Josh Salisbury and James Tracey - and
James: Montana Davies-Shuck -
Langwith: Calum Stewart -
Vanbrugh: Naomi Barrow -
I am also contactable via

To see how important this role is, two of our reps have written profiles about their experience and asked that I share it.  

The first is from our Vanbrugh Rep, Naomi Barrow:
As a disabled student’s rep, I’m lucky enough to have been given the chance to represent all disabled members of our college, whatever their disability may be. I attend weekly disabled students’ network meetings and JCRC meetings. I listen out for anything going on which may affect disabled students, especially in our college, and work with those affected to see how we can make things better for them. I also get the chance to run events, including drop ins, this year the biggest one I set up was World Mental Health Day on campus! Drop me an email if you have any questions or would like to know more about the role.

The second is from Halifax's Access Rep, Josh Salisbury:
Being an Access and Disabilities Rep for your college is a great role. Whether it's dressing up as a lion to raise money for charity or meeting with University officials to get them to maintain hearing loops in lecture theatres, (all things I've been involved in!) there's plenty of opportunity to make a difference.We run drop ins so that people can bring issues to us, and to also help them apply DSA or extra time in exams ect. We also attend College committee and Disabled Students Network meetings so that we can ensure that disabled students get fair representation. Being an Access and Disabilities Rep means having the chance to help campaign on issues related to disability, not just on a college level but on a Uni level as well. And it's great fun too!

Disabled Students deserve representation, so let's ensure they have it.  Let's see as many disability reps being elected so we can continue to improve and grow our movement!  If you are interested, please run, you have the chance to be part of something amazing and leave your mark on the university and join a Network that has been active in campaigning and who have won on all their promises.