By Emer Walsh
Currently in her final year of a BA in English and French, Editor-In-Chief of the UCC Express and Consent Officer for the UCC Feminist Society, Imasha Costa is running to be your Education Officer for the 2022/23 Academic year, the only full-time role being contested in this election. This is your chance to get to know her better so you can make an informed decision in this year’s UCC Student Union Elections.
Beginning with the Basics:
Why did you decide to run for Education Officer?
Ever since first year, I always wanted to try to make a difference and be there for students. It was always something that I wanted to do; to help others, not only because I, myself have been out into shitty situations as an international student going into college and finding it hard to access education, but also because there are so many other students also finding it hard to access education too. My thing is this; education is not a privilege, it should be a right for everyone. So, being able to make a difference for other students and working with the SU would really allow that and I really want to help as many students as I can.
Why should people vote for Imasha Costa?
I could go on about who I am, what I do, what my manifesto is, but ultimately, if people vibe with my manifesto, then I believe that they should vote for me. If they want to see consent training and bystander intervention being brought into the curriculum, to make that conversation of consent more open, then vote for me. If they want to see a change made for International Students and Postgraduate students, vote for me. If they want to see a bettering of Class Reps, vote for me. If what I want to achieve in my manifesto sounds like what they want to see, then I recommend that they vote for me.
Talking about Experience:
How would you use your past experience from the Feminist Society, the University Express and other roles you have held in the past and bring that forward with you in the role as Education Officer?
In this past year, working with the University Express as Editor-in-Chief has been an incredible thing, but it has also opened my eyes to a lot of students that are struggling and are afraid to approach the union with their issues. With being Editor, you are bound with anonymity a lot of the time, and a lot of students have approached me and told me their stories, not knowing what to do.
There’s a compassion that you begin to develop that I really want to bring with me to the Union, to make sure that students are not afraid to come to me with a problem and to maintain that same level of anonymity if they need it as well. That is one big thing the Express has taught me and I am very grateful for that.
And Now, for the Nitty and Gritty:
With motions circulating at the moment to increase student fees, regardless of what these are for and how they will benefit student well-being, how do you plan on protecting students from already extortionate fees based on an EU Perspective?
I think it is very important to highlight the fact that students are already paying a lot and adding on more money on top of how much they already pay with the contribution fee is ridiculous. I understand they want to increase student help, but at the same time, you need to be realistic about the fact that not every student can afford it. SUSI does not cover many students who will have to pay the full fees and the fact they are trying to increase this is a bit ridiculous. International students alone already pay an extortionate fee and had a four grand jump in fees in the last academic year.
The government can actually do something about this where they can actually manage to keep the student contribution fee low and that is what we saw after the F**k the Fees protest… They did make some massive changes, and tiny changes could lead to massive changes as well. So, I think advocating for the fact that students are not supposed to pay this much in fees, and that they could actually get funding from the government because the government has the funding for this.
How do you plan on supporting students next year following the return of in-person exams, especially when many students have not done them before?
I myself am going back to in-person exams, exams that I have not done since semester one of first year. I don’t know what I am going to do, I’m freaking out myself. But that is the fear though – you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re given a time constraint where you need to write down everything, but that is hard. I’m doing English in-person exams. I have to write a whole essay and argument in an hour-and-a-half. I find it ridiculous.
I also think that there are so many subjects like English that could function without in-person exams and I think we could advocate for subjects to not have in-person exams, or encourage students to have training of some sort going forward. Even just utilising the UCC Skill Centre to learn how to do these in-person again, so people are not afraid of them. It is also important though that students have the skills to look after and prioritise their mental health at the same time, because in-person exams are chaotic. You need to be able to look after yourself, and your exam, so I think that is the way to go.
Voting for the UCC Student Union Elections and Referenda open on Monday, March 21st at 9 am. Further information on voting can be found at the UCC Students Union, and all voting will take place online.