All 5 entries tagged Union
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February 15, 2015
Tomorrow I will be speaking at an event hosted by the University of Bristol Students' Union (UBU).
At the event panellists will share their views on intersectonality in the women's movement. There will also be a chance for the audience to contribute to the debate and ask questions.
I will be sharing the panel with:
Megan Armstrong (UBU Women's Officer)
Susuana Antubam (NUS Women's Officer)
Fahma Mohamed - (Integrate Bristo)
Sammi Whittaker - (NUS Women's Committee)
The event, which is free to attend, will take place in AR11 on the second floor of the Students' Union building.
Further details can be found here.
May 09, 2014
March 01, 2013
You're not imagining it - the advertising for student elections really is getting more extreme every year. Since I first arrived at the University of Warwick in 2005, we've gone from heavy advertising outside the Chaplaincy and within buildings such as the Students' Union and Library, to the current mass coating of every available surface. Printed posters have given way to cardboard signs and increasingly massive banners.
In the headlong rush to secure election at any cost, sabbatical candidates seem to ignore the impact of all these signs.
I'm not just talking about an aesthetic impact on the campus environment (although, let's face it, Warwick gets pretty during election periods). I'm talking about the physical impact. Many of the signs are knocked over or blown away, leading to a massive amount of litter as cardboard and tape clogs up passageways and invades green spaces. Some candidates (I'm looking at you, Nick Swain and Zoe For Sports) are showing no respect whatsoever for living plants, through measures such as stapling signs to trees.
I doubt many (if any) of the candidates have also thought about who has to clear up after them. I've spoken to members of University staff who are already underpaid and overworked - now they have to tidy up the mess left by wannabe student politicians.
How many election candidates are looking around campus in the evening to see if any of their advertising has fallen down or fallen apart? How many candidates are planning to take down all their posters at the end of the week? Or are they going to forget all about it under the warm glow of the election party stage lights?
This is a problem that arises partly from individual selfishness, but also from the current electoral culture at Warwick. In order to be elected, it seems necessary for candidates to plaster every surface in their own image.
Every year sees are new conversation about electoral reform from the Students' Union. Perhaps this year, it should come in the form of new guidance on advertising over the election period - guidance that encourages candidates to respect University staff and the University environment alike.
Image is from the 2012 Warwick SU elections, shameless lifted from Daniel Stevens' blog.
May 14, 2012
I don't think I've ever been as disgusted with Warwick SU's Union Council as I am now. And I've been a student politic hack of some stripe or another for quite some time now.
The matter at hand was the renewal of a somewhat innocuous policy calling upon the Students' Union to support pregnant students in terms of advising on options, finances etc. The original policy also called for the creation of a pregnant students' fund - the renewal asks student representatives to lobby the University for such a fund.
It's the kind of policy that normally breezes through Council. We'd already had an inevitably heated discussion over whether or not to express solidarity with Balfour Bettie workers on campus (due to the company's rather nasty habit of blacklisting employees involved in Union activities or legal action over health and safety) and over the best way to support Leamington's Community Centre (incidentally, you can petition to save Bath Place here!)
But what could possibly be problematic about supporting pregnant students?
Everything, apparently. A fierce debate erupted as various men (and yes, they were all men, and included several sabbatical officers who I thought knew better) came up with the most bizarre problems with the motion. They argued that the motion contained too many wishy-washy statements of belief rather than actual content. Then they went for the content. They claimed it might detract from the student hardship fund. They imagined it might catalyse a chain reaction in which the student hardship fund was eventually scrapped entirely.
The Union's only female sabbatical officer pointed out the gendered nature of the debate, arguing that men shouldn't necessarily be making these decisions for women. Cue a series of "hilarious" comments along the lines of "I may be a man, and know nothing about women, but I do know about finance. Don't worry, it's a joke".
Funnily enough, there may well have been as many women speaking on this issue as had spoken on anything else all night.
The travesty ended in a tightly contested vote in which the vast majority of women on Council voted for the motion and the vast majority of men voted against. The result was a tie, in part because another body of men abstained (there were more men than women in the room). In a tight re-vote, 17 councillors voted in favour of the motion, and 15 against.
I don't see how anyone can possibly claim that this wasn't a gendered issue. It predominantly affects women. It divided the room on gendered lines in a way I've rarely seen. And if the Union can so easily "find money" for supporting the national demonstration against fees and cuts later this year - as it should! - then it can surely find the resources necessary to lobby the University in support of some of the most vulnerable students.
I simply don't understand how people could regard this as a purely "financial" issue. It's not: it's about supporting vulnerable students in a society centred around the structural oppression of women: a society that moreover diminishes the cultural capital and importance of parenthood. And it clearly impacts women disproportionately because the vast amount of people who get pregnant are women.
Now, I don't mean to say pregnancy directly affects all women. I don't have a womb. I will never be able to get pregnant. And yet it was pretty damn clear to me that my vote as a councillor should be made in solidarity with my sisters. And if the men in the room who regarded the issue as relatively unimportant couldn't bring themselves to vote for the motion in solidarity with the women, they could have at least had the decency to abstain.
Following the vote, a male sabbatical officer asked why the men in the room were being discriminated against. I'm sorry, but - no wait, I'm not freakin' sorry. I don't see how it could be any more obvious that this is a gendered issue. The motion almost fell because more men get elected to democratic bodies than women. Under such circumstance, isn't it about time that most the guys present checked their male privilege and shut up for a change?
Edit: A response from a number of sabbatical officers is available in the comments section below. Minutes of the meeting are available here. There is an audio recording here. The debate begins at around 2:23:20.