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Katarina Nordanger, QMSU Vice-President for Welfare

Friday 4 October 2013

What’s your name and role in the SU?
My name is Katarina (Kat) Hummervoll Nordanger, and I am the Vice-President Welfare in Queen Mary Students' Union.

What did you used to study at QM?
I used to study international Relations.

What’s your favourite memory from studying at QM?
There are loads of good memories, most of them involving the friends I have made in my time at QM. My favourite might be when my friend Donald sat with me throughout an entire night at the library while I finished my dissertation. He showed up with loads of chocolate and encouragement!

You’ve only just started in the role, but do you have any plans for what you’d like to do after you finish in the post?
I am considering doing an MA related to international security studies, but I have not really decided yet.

Why did you decide to run for the SU Sabbatical Officer role?
I have been involved in the SU since I started QM though volunteering, representation and societies, and I guess I decided to run for a sabbatical role because I saw areas where I thought I could make a change for the better.

What is your role and what does your role entail? How long will you be in the post for?
I am the Vice-President Welfare of the Students' Union. The position is rather new, and is being developed – but in my role I am the voice of students on all welfare related matters. These matters range from housing, widening participation, mental health to community, campaigning and alcohol awareness. I think the role very much is what you make of it. I have been elected to be in this post for this coming academic year.

What part of your role are you most looking forward to getting your teeth into?
I am very much looking forward to running the QMSU Mental Health and Wellbeing campaign. It is very exciting, and I think it could make a real change for students.

What about the more challenging areas?
Housing is definitely one of the more challenging areas. It is not just a problem for students at Queen Mary, but a London and nation-wide problem. It should be challenging to find the right angle to tackle it from, but I am also quite excited to get started on it.

What campaigns will you be working on over the coming year?
The QMSU Mental Health and Wellbeing campaign is probably the biggest campaign I am running this year. QMSU is signing the Time to Change pledge on Thursday 10 October, which is World Mental Health day to show our aspiration to tackle stigma and discrimination around mental health at QM. I am also supporting the different liberation part-time officers to run liberation campaigns on different issues like safety and how to get more disabled students into sports. Then there is the housing campaign, food campaign and other community projects like the QMSU 'Mums and Dads' buddy scheme and halls reps scheme which also are priorities in the coming year.

What is your favourite part about the SU?
It must be the inclusive nature of the Students' Union. That we have activities suitable for everyone. In my opinion and experience it is the best way for students to find their place and make friends at Queen Mary.

How can students get involved in the SU? Do you need to be in your first year to make the most of it? 

You don't need to be a first year to make the most out of it. It depends on what your interests are. There are so many societies and programmes like “Try Something” and “Mums and Dads” to suit everyone’s interests, giving everyone a chance to meet someone and make new friends. There are sports clubs, sports leagues, Get Active and an excellent gym where you can get fit and have some fun. Then we have the representation aspect where you can stand to be a student officer, halls rep or a course rep where you can campaign for change within the union, university or local community. There are loads of ways to get involved and it is never too late.

For new students – and students coming back for their next year – what would be the number one thing you recommend they do in the first few weeks of term?

Well, hopefully everyone went to the Freshers' Fair! I guess I would also recommend everyone to try something new within the union, be it sports, societies, campaigning or volunteering – there are so many opportunities and it is all about taking that first step and getting involved.

Anything else you’d like to highlight to students?
The Students' Union want to make sure that every student group is recognised in some way. That could be through the master students’ society, postgrad quiz, helping out at the national care leavers week in late October, putting on events for one of the liberation weeks or holding open forums.  If you think that there are things we should be doing that we are not then let us know.  

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