Candidate: Roberto Avelar

YSTV 60 Second Manifestos

The 60 second manifestos were recorded and produced by YSTV.


Hi everyone! My name is Roberto Avelar and I’m running to be your next YUSU President because I believe students are not getting the representation and fair deal they deserve.

Fees from undergraduate to postgraduate students are rising each year. Economy accommodation on campus is not being built, making living on campus more expensive. Landlords are not held to account, resulting in apathetic treatment towards students living off-campus. Many students are spending hundreds of pounds on ‘required reading’ with no support from departments to cover these costs. This needs to change.

I’ve been the YUSU International Officer for 2 years, representing over 4,000 students, as well as a member of James College JCRC; I have experience on everything from organising our Global Week festival to running campaigns with our liberation networks.

As your SU president, I will tackle the challenges facing York students, from costs, to employability and mental health issues.

Saving money and eradicating hidden costs

The problem:
• Two new colleges are being built, but the last college built was not affordable for most students.
• In some departments, students can spend upwards of £100 a year on books and materials that they need in order to write essays, or out-of-pocket money for trips to galleries or museums.
• Printer credit fluctuates between departments: some departments offer unlimited printing at no cost and others require students to top up multiple times a year to print out lectures, required reading, and essays.

My solution:
• I’ll push the University to sign new accommodation contracts that guarantee more budget accommodation choices and limit how much the Uni can charge for accommodation.
• I’ll lobby the University to publish every course-associated cost before the start of the academic year. For any costs not published before the start of the course, departments will have a hardship loan for students to claim from.
• I’ll work with Course/Department reps to determine the average cost for students in each department. For courses with higher hidden costs, I’ll work with departments to come up with solutions, such as buying texts in bulk and subsidising them to students or printing paper copies, to ensure cheaper costs.

Keeping you happy and healthy

The problem:
East Asian students make up ~8.5% of the student population yet last year encompassed over 50% of suicides at our University. Transgender students are statistically more likely to take Leave of Absences than others., and mental health issues disproportionately affect BAME students. The Uni is inaccessible and specialized help is not available.
• Poor communication from the University has been partially responsible for some international students being deported last year due to changes in visa legislation by the Home Office (including me!).
Leave of Absence students receive minimal support or communication from the University, resulting in confusion and stress.
• Everyone has landlord horror stories, but at the moment there is no system to hold landlords or letting agencies accountable for mistreating students.

My solution:
• I’ll work with YUSU and the University to identify the student groups more vulnerable to wellbeing issues before the start of the academic year. We will publish an action plan to improve support for these groups in term 1, including targeted surveys and focus groups. We will provide a full update of improvements in wellbeing at the end of the academic year.
• I’ll create a ‘Rate your Landlord’ scheme for off-campus accommodation, like other universities, to incentivize landlords to ensure that students are getting value for money.
Support for Leave of Absence students: termly emails from supervisors and college support.

Helping students to get jobs that support their study and employability

The problem:
• YUSU does not currently advertise off-campus student-friendly jobs that you can do during your degree.
• Students take on many different roles and responsibilities during their time at York, but it is not made clear how this can help student employability.

My solution:
• I’ll create a 'student jobs' quality standard detailing what to look for when considering jobs with employers across the campus and City, and highlight student-friendly businesses.
• I’ll identify ways to recognise and accredit student leadership so that students who are volunteers, course reps, or in a college or society committee, can show this to future employers. We will achieve all of this while ensuring that students know exactly what the Union is working on and how to get involved:

Making sure students know what YUSU is doing to represent their needs

The problem:
• Sabbs are elected and paid to represent students, yet we’re often left in the dark regarding what they're doing, what meetings they’re attending, or whether or not they’ve achieved their manifesto policies.
• Networks are not advertised on the website or around campus as well as they could be, hindering part-time officers’ ability to represent you and your ability to get involved.

My solution:
• I’ll create a calendar timeline on the YUSU website detailing what PTOs and networks are up to, what YUSU and society events are happening on campus, and by when sabbs aim to achieve different manifesto goals.
• YUSU will publish the three main campaign priorities and a YUSU manifesto that all students can see and engage with at the start of the year.
• A termly representatives forum will enable students to engage with, understand, support, and question sabbs.
• Each term, the sabbatical officers will publish details of everything we have done to try to secure a win for students on each of our three campaign priorities. We will tell you about the letters we have written, the presentations we have delivered to University committees and everything we have done to achieve our manifesto goals.