A Research Project into Support Needs of Students with a Mental Health Disability

The Student Counselling Service and Disability Support Service will commission a piece of research by a post-doctoral researcher to investigate the support needs of students with a mental health disability in order to facilitate their progress through University by identifying  targeted and effective responses which can be developed by service providers and new  approaches which could be utilised.

The key aim of this research will be to procure objective information of the ongoing support needs for students with mental health disabilities, in order to inform effective planning to ensure the retention and progression of these students through the University system. The key objective will be to ensure equality of opportunity for students with mental health diagnoses and to increase equality of outcome within the system.

Outcome: Dr Padraig MacNeela completed a research report based on a qualitative online survey of students registered with DSS as having a mental health condition.

Funded: €1,000
Organisers: Student Counselling Service and Disability Support Service: Geraldine Connolly and Bernie McGee
Celebrating Sheila Tinney

This project will celebrate the achievements of Sheila Tinney (née Power), one of Galway’s most accomplished mathematicians. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheila_Tinney

The centenary of her birth falls in January 2018 and we will mark this occasion by unveiling a print of a portrait of Tinney, along with a citation detailing her many achievements: as researcher at the very cutting edge of 20th century mathematical physics, and an outstanding and modernising teacher. This event will be reflective and inclusive. After the event, the portrait will remain on the walls of Aras de Brún as a permanent testament to Tinney’s contributions and achievements.  

In promoting Tinney as a role model, we would like our students to see themselves in her: their potential is as unlimited as hers. We also will use this opportunity to encourage our colleagues to reflect on the current selection of art on display in Aras de Brún, and question what message it communicates, and what we would like it to communicate.

Outcome: The School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics held an event to unveil a portrait of Tinney which now hangs in Aras de Brún. See event pictures here.

Funded: €250
Organisers: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics: Niall Madden
Christmas Party for those in Direct Provision

The idea behind this project is to extend an invite out to those in the Direct Provision centres to become a part of the community, to host a Christmas party here in the University. The idea is to give small gifts to children and adults, have a festive atmosphere and some festive treats. The project is simple enough in nature; a once off event with Santa for the kids, some presents for the adults, food and festive treats, holiday music and decorations.  It is hoped this could become an annual event.

This is a simple idea that could achieve a lot in a once off event. It can promote awareness and understanding of cultural diversity in our community and show that the University recognises and embraces students from non-traditional backgrounds and the unique challenges they face.

In a system that places so many barriers and restrictions to access, we would like to offer a space for coming together and celebration. We can use this party to talk to people in Direct Provision; hear their experiences and brainstorm how we can create more awareness of the system.

Outcome: The SU and Student Society volunteers held a Christmas party in Dec 2017 for families currently in Direct Provision.

Funded: €1,000
Organisers: Students’ Union, Impacte Society, Philosophy society, Fáilte Refugees society: Megan Reilly and Patricia O’Mahony
‘Comediversity at NUIG’

‘Comediversity’ is a new comedy movement that aims to welcome and celebrate difference, because, as their slogan reads, “difference is beautiful”. They also aim to provide more equality-driven event nights throughout Ireland, beginning earlier this month with their launch event occurring on Saturday November 11th at the home of Galway comedy, the Róisín Dubh. This event showcased the comedic talents of acts from various diverse backgrounds. The key action of this project, or more accurately, event, is to hold a night of diverse stand-up comedy in NUIG Galway via the Comedy Soc with the goal of raising funds and awareness for selected charity organisations, whilst celebrating the role the NUI Galway community of students and staff can play in the effort for equality and diversity through the arts.  Our stage on the night will act as a platform for voices that may not otherwise be heard on the comedy scene and will prove to our audience that laughs can come from acts from all backgrounds.

Outcome: The Comediversity night was a success for Comedy Soc and was mentioned by the Galway Advertiser.

Funded: €600
Organizers: Comedy Soc: Niall Horisk and Martin Warde
Cross Cultural Communication and Intercultural Awareness Training for Academic Staff

The J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics MSc Taught Programme numbers have increased significantly from 2016 to 2017.  The number of Non-EU students has itself increased by 205%. Following on from the success of the Cross-Cultural Communication Skills training for our students, our academic colleagues have expressed that there is a need for similar training to be made available to them, given the growing diversity of the School’s student body.

We are proposing to offer the same Cross-Cultural Communication training, tailored for Academic staff’s needs. This training will enable staff to have a greater understanding of the diversity within the classroom and be better prepared to manage situations that may arise in relation to cultural differences. Our objective is to foster cross cultural awareness among students and staff alike by creating a greater understanding of one’s own values as well as those of other cultures.

Outcome: The School of Business & Economics held three 2-hour sessions; one for Administrative staff and 2 sessions focusing on the needs of Academic staff. A total of 10 administrative and 18 Academic staff were in attendance, with hopes to use this project as a pilot.

Funded: €600
Organisers: J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics: Orla Naughton
Disability Open Day

The aim of a Disability Open Day will be to capture activities that relate to the protected ground of 'disability' in equality legislation, and 'promoting non-traditional student access to 3rd level education'. The project will consist of three parts: 1) an exhibition of posters of celebrities with disabilities and medical conditions; 2) a show put together by students of NUI Galway that have a disability and or medical condition; 3) refreshments for attendees. This event will help to facilitate social interaction for our overall student community and staff in order to show the diversity and the need for proper inclusion of people of varying abilities, disabilities and medical conditions.

Among our project's key objectives are to demonstrate that NUI Galway is inclusive and respects diversity on campus; supports and empowers students with disabilities to speak up for themselves; to illustrate the network and peer support of current students with disabilities and medical conditions to potential students; to have a significant impact on the community of Galway in terms of showing that NUI Galway is open to and disability friendly; to inform and educate the general student community of NUI Galway to be more understanding, inclusive and respectful towards students with disabilities; to reduce the negative attitudes towards people with disabilities (indirect bullying); to show who we are to prove that students with disabilities and health issues can also fully participate in campus activities and events, as well as academically succeed in their studies; to minimise stereotypes (ideally remove them completely); to strengthen interactions and potential friendships on campus with the wider university community; and to encourage potential students by showing the success of current students with disabilities undertaking undergraduate degrees, and others who are currently at post-graduate level.

Outcome: The IMPACTE Society members held the disability open day in March 2018 and attracted over 50 attendees including current students, parents, future students, and Hildegarde Naughton, TD.

Funded: €1,000
Organisers: Eliona Gjecaj, Eamon Gibbons, Colman O'Connell, Emer Coyne
Diversity After University

Last year GiGSoc held Diversity After University for the first time. The event saw numerous companies such as Arthur Cox, Accenture, EA Games, Fidelity investments and Teach Solais, come together to talk about inclusion and diversity in the workplace. This year we are hosting it in The Cube in Aras Na Mac Leinn and we will be inviting 10 speakers from different companies. Last year the event was aimed at LGBT+ people, this year we would like to expand that and also aim it at women, people with disabilities and people of colour.

Our key objectives are to spread awareness about diversity. After university people are often unsure of what their next steps should be, they’ve spent the past few years working hard to achieve their goal of getting a degree, and now they have to go into the world and find a job, look for opportunities, etc. That can be really overwhelming and often LGBT+ people can hide who they are in order to secure a job. Women, people with disabilities and people of colour can suffer inequality in the workplace as well. Diversity in a work environment is so important, it leads to a more profitable company and happy staff. It is also important to show that there are unconventional job opportunities out there that might be more suited to them, as job satisfaction is very important.

Outcome: GiGSoc had a wonderful panel of speakers including, Steven Muir, EA Games and Siona Cahill, Vice President for Equality and Citizenship USI, at the event in Feb 2018 and provided students with a taste of how important diversity is in the workplace.

Funded: €500
Organisers: GiGSoc: Sinead Ruane
Occupational Therapy Sensory and Exercise Program

As part of the Disability Support Office, we are a newly formed team of Occupational Therapists.  We receive referrals from the Disability Office to provide evaluation and intervention for students who have difficulties participating in college life, both academically and socially.  To date, the majority of students we receive referrals for are those diagnosed with ADD/Autism/Anxiety/Depression and may come from outside Ireland or within Ireland.

As Occupational Therapists we understand the beneficial effects of physical activity for students and especially those students with a disability.  Unfortunately, due to various effects of their disability many of the students we meet are unable to enter the gym building never mind ask somebody to show them how to use a machine. We, as Occupational Therapists would run a group in the gym two days a week during semester two (12 weeks) to bridge the gap for students with a disability who wish to become more active on the college campus and to enhance quality of life on the campus for students with a disability.

Outcome: The group portion of the program ran for 10 weeks in early 2018 and included 8 1:1 session for students who were referred to the Occupational Therapists.

Funded: €996
Organisers: Disability Support Office: Emma Frawley – Senior Occupational Therapist, Treasa Farragher – Occupational Therapist
Peer mentoring program for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

There are increasing numbers of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) participating in postsecondary education; yet the drop-out rates remain high due to increasing academic and social demands. This pilot project seeks to gain information about the needs of students with ASD while offering a fair, supportive, and encouraging environment in the form of a Mentorship Program on campus that goes beyond the standard academic and psychological services already established.

The objectives of the peer mentoring program are to: 1) build a social network within the university community for university students with an ASD; 2) provide a supportive environment for university students with an ASD; and 3) facilitate and promote inclusion among students with and without ASD on campus. Secondary objectives include offering mentoring and supervision experiences to undergraduate and graduate students in relevant fields (e.g., clinical psychology, applied behaviour analysis). The project will include running focus groups with NUIG students with ASD, senior mentors, and trainees to identify the needs of students; as well as with academics, researchers, and clinicians in the School of Psychology in order to develop the mentoring program.  Collaboration with the Access Centre and Disability Support Services is also necessary.

Outcome: Withdrawn

Funded: €1,000
Organisers: Keeley White and Geraldine Leader
School of Natural Science Postgraduate Student Survey

The newly established School of Natural Sciences Equality and Diversity Committee has a postgraduate representative and deputy. In order to adequately represent those students it would be very useful to know as much about the students we represent as they wish to share. The survey will help us to get a better picture of those we represent, and those students who wish to attend will be invited to a lunch.  This will be an opportunity to introduce ourselves briefly to those we represent.

Outcome: Withdrawn

Funded: €595
Organisers: Postgrad Reps on SNS Diversity and Equality Committee: Aileen Gill and Ana Marquesmendes
University of Sanctuary Campaign

Our proposal is to initiate a campus-wide campaign that promotes inclusion and equity. Specifically, for those residing in Direct Provision or whom otherwise are barred access to education at NUI Galway due to their citizenship status. Our primary demographic includes persons within the Direct Provision system; individuals living in DP Centres or who have recently come through the DP system, as well as members of the Travelling community. This campaign follows the University of Sanctuary model, which can be reviewed at https://universities.cityofsanctuary.org/. We aim to use our accolade as being in the top 1% of Universities worldwide to create, nurture, and sustain a campus environment of equity and inclusion where any student, regardless of individual circumstance or barrier, can feel safe and welcome to pursue their right to education. We aim to become a national leader like UL, DCU and more recently AIT in securing University of Sanctuary status.

Outcome: Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, joined the University of Sanctuary committee at the launch day of the campaign on 22 Feb 2018.  Work is ongoing to gain University of Sanctuary status for NUI Galway.

Funded: €1,000
Organisers: University of Sanctuary Steering Committee: Aidan Harte
‘Waving not Drowning’ production at NUI Galway by Bread and Roses theatre group

“Waving not Drowning” is a theatre production by the company Bread and Roses, born of the need to create awareness and encourage social inclusion and de-stigmatisation of all groups. Their production is a collection of 10 short sketches about living with mental health illness and each help to shed light on and increase awareness of the difficulties for patients, their families and their carers. This project will seek to bring this play to NUI Galway’s campus as part of a Mindfulness Special Study Module (4th year module) for medical students and for all who wish to attend. The aim of the project will be to increase awareness of mental health issues and the need to take care of self and society and to destigmatise and normalise mental health conditions.

Outcome: Withdrawn

 Funded: €550
Organisers: Sarah Brennan
Women in Irish Geoscience Showcase 2018

The AWG (www.awg.org) is an international organisation at the forefront of equality and education in geoscience.  The Irish AWG Chapter (IAWG) is a national initiative which aims to encourage women to enter into the field of geoscience and help the retention of women along the career ladder by providing practical skills workshops, career days, discussion forums, mentoring programmes, field trips and networking events.  The long term aim for the chapter is to become a national resource hub for women who require support, information and new skills. The chapter is gender inclusive and open to anyone that supports the goals of the chapter at any stage of their career (from undergraduate to professional).

This project will be the hosting of a nationwide annual showcase including guest speakers, an open question panel forum, and networking sessions with refreshments. The event will provide a rare opportunity for early career geoscientists to ask questions, gain a greater understanding of potential career opportunities, and get practical advice on career pathways.

We hope to inspire women to continue in geoscience by showing them that they have what it takes to pursue a career in the sector and to showcase all the opportunities available to them in this field. The event will also act as a platform for the implementation of a nationwide mentoring programme. In doing so, this event is taking a critical step towards to fixing the “leaky pipeline”, which threatens the long-term wealth and viability of not only the geoscience economy both here in Ireland and internationally, but also our social community and its outlook on women in society. The event will highlight the importance of such events and be a pre-cursor to a larger career event day to include ambassadors from all relevant companies, government bodies and academic departments.

Outcome: An evening symposium was held in June 2018 focusing on the Past, Present, and Future of Irish Women in Geoscience. Three guest speakers, Associate Professor Patrick Wyse Jackson (TCD), Taly Hunter Williams (Geological Survey of Ireland), Fani Papageorgiou (UCD) spoke and formed a panel for a session of engaged student and staff collaboration.

Funded: €500
Organisers: Aoife Blowick