UEA students have branded SU officer Amelia Trew as “hypocritical” after Concrete revealed while Ms Trew opposed this paper’s use of the word ‘crisis’ in regard to mental health she used the same word to describe mental health in her SU election manifesto.
Ms Trew was elected as the union officer for welfare, community and diversity in March 2019. It is one of five paid, full-time positions students can apply for. SU officers’ salaries are approximately £19,000.
Uea(su) told Concrete Ms Trew opposes the use of the word ‘crisis’ in the phrase ‘mental health crisis’. In a statement Ms Trew said: “We really have to be careful in the way we use language”. She added: “What we don’t want to do is be careless with our choice of words and inadvertently put people off from trying to access services which they need.”
However, in her SU election manifesto Ms Trew wrote: “We are witnessing a national crisis regarding the Welfare of Students’ mental health which is increasingly growing as an issue at UEA.”
A student supporter of Ms Trew’s SU election campaign, who wishes to remain anonymous, called the revelation a “controversy”. They said: “I personally think such specific policing of what language we use when addressing what is quite frankly a crisis, is a prime example of why poor mental health is so prevalent”. They added they “will thoroughly support anybody who is being proactive in getting adequate support for students, whether it’s Amelia [Trew], Concrete or otherwise”.
Concrete launched its Mental Health Crisis campaign in September after four student deaths in just 10 months at UEA. The campaign has gained support from the mother of a student who took his own life at UEA as well as from mental health activist Stephen Fry, MPs, and other prominent figures including Gina Miller. Many students and their relatives are also supporting the campaign.
Lewis Oxley, a third year English literature with philosophy student, told Concrete: “I think [Ms Trew] is being hypocritical… after all she was elected on that promise”.
Mr Oxley believes the mental health crisis is “a ticking time bomb.” He added: “It’s not just happening on our campus, it’s happening all over the country.”
According to uea(su) byelaws, one of Ms Trew’s roles as officer for welfare, community and diversity is “being the voice of UEA students on issues relating to student welfare, equality of opportunity liberation, diversity and access to education”.
Rosie Matthews is a second year biology student. She believes Ms Trew was “hypocritical”.
“She’s just being a hypocrite, I don’t know what else to say”, Miss Matthews added.
After learning of the SU officer’s double standard another student said: “That’s a bit hypocritical”, adding, “she’s calling it a crisis”.
It’s not the first time an SU officer has been in hot water. In 2016 many students called for Jo Swo, then welfare, community and diversity officer, to resign after she bit an LCR security guard and stole from behind the bar. A motion of no confidence in Ms Swo was withdrawn after a “mistake” by the SU.
Uea(su) byelaws state: “Any member of the Student Officer Committee shall cease to hold office if they are subject to a motion of no confidence, submitted by ten or more members of Union Council, passed by a 75% majority of those members of the Union Council present and voting at a quorate meeting.” Union Council next meets on 7 November.
Ms Trew did not respond to Concrete’s request for comment.
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