I’m in the library at the moment and am working on an essay, so this will be a quick one but here’s an update of some of the stuff I’m doing and how you can get involved:
1) Cross-Liberation group: just over a week ago we had the first meeting of the cross0liberation group, open to all Associations and Liberation Officers. The plan is have regular meetings so we can decide on collective objectives, assist each other in our individual aims and address the fact that many students belong to two or more Liberation groups.
In this meeting we decided on three Guild Council motions – detailed below the post.
Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/329908133697431/
Anyone who identifies with any of the Liberation groups (Women, Ethnic Minorities, Disabled, LGBTQ) should definitely consider joining. The more people who attend meetings (which will probably take place about once a month) the stronger we will be and we’ll be able to effect greater change.
2) The Guild has written a statement on a beauty pageant that is being directed at University of Birmingham students, called ‘Miss Undergraduate Birmingham’.
The statement can be found here: http://www.guildofstudents.com/news/index.php?page=article&news_id=302333
If you, like me, are sick of sexual objectification and being judged (or those around you being judged) on false, sensational ideas of what is ‘beautiful’, and what women should be, there is a group planning an action against this event. For more information, get in touch with me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I can add you in to the mailing list. Alternatively, join the cross-liberation group above.
3) International Women’s Week: 20th-24th February.
This is going to be the best week ever.
I’m organising a week to celebrate the diversity and talents of women’s on campus, raise awareness about the issues and inequalities facing women here and globally, and to give students ideas as to how they can join and continue the fight.
Maybe ‘Feminist’ might not be such a dirty word afterwards.
The ideas that have been thrown around so far and I’m working on making into a reality are:
- CARNIVAL: On Wednesday the 22nd we’re going to have music and dancing on campus, right outside the library. We’ll have speakers, including the NUS Women’s Officer Estelle Hart, rallying everyone into a feminist frenzy. We’ll have stalls from the likes of UK Feminista, Amnesty International, Global Women Strike, the Corporate University and our very own Women’s Association. We’ll have banners and posters and stickers everywhere. We’ll have space for student groups to get involved raising awareness about what they do for women, or about women round the world. We’ll have a ‘diversity and welfare’ space where you can get to know the other Liberation groups, find out what services there are on campus when you get in a tight spot and where you can quiz your VP Welfare, Luke.
- OPENING NIGHT: On the Monday we’ll hopefully be holding an amazing Talent show, with as many wonderful female student singers, dancers, comedians etc as possible! There’ll also be an Art exhibition and creative space where writers, artists, designers and poets can show off their work.
This exhibition will be up for a few days in the Guild at least.
- THE FESTIVAL OF IDEAS: I’m hoping to introduce as many students to different women’s issues from here and around the world as possible. So I’m inviting lots of really interesting speakers to hold a host of lectures, seminars and debates. We’ll be having talks on:
‘Is Feminism relevant to students?’, ‘Is Feminism relevant to men?’ alongside some really interesting lectures from specialist feminist academics. MORE INFO. ON THE WAY.
- ACTIONS: There will be a bunch of actions across the week for you to look out for. Including, on the Tuesday, the action (mentioned above) against the beauty pageant, and sexual objectification more generally. Oxfam, Amnesty International and other groups are getting involved.
- CLOSING NIGHT: The Women’s Association are hosting FAB. For a spectacular end to the week, you’ll be able to go raise some money for Breast Cancer Research and have a fab time
There are more things but I can’t remember….
If you want to get involved, have any of your work on display, want your society to host and event and be put into our wonderful, shiny programme, want to sing, dance or amaze an audience with any other talents, suggest some events, help me with the insane workload PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get in touch:
OR JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP:
So that was my attempt at a quick one… back to the essay.
Lots of love Kelly x
(p.s. please get in touch about Women’s Week).
Motion 1: Liberation Officers as Trustees
Amend Existing Policy/Bye-Law: Bye Law 3 1.1 & Articles of Association “Trustees”
Bye Law 3
1.1.3 Pursuant to the Articles of Association, the Liberation Trustees shall be the
Disabled Student’s Officer, the LGBTQ Officer, the Ethnic Minority Student’s Officer and the Women’s Officer.
Articles of Association “Trustees”
Amend text “7. There shall be not more than fourteen Trustees. Whenever the total number of Trustees falls below fourteen, the Trustees shall appoint or elect new Trustees in accordance with Articles 25 to 27 to ensure that the composition of the
Board as specified in Article 8 is maintained” so that it reads “7. There shall be not more than eighteen Trustees. Whenever the total number of Trustees falls below eighteen… “
“Appointment of Trustees”: 8.6 not more than four Liberation Trustees, elected in accordance to Article 11.
11. The four Liberation Trustees shall be the four Liberation Officers (DSO, LGBTQO, EMSO, WO) whose identity and election by cross campus ballot shall be as set out in the Bye-Laws.
12. The Liberation Trustees shall remain in office for a term of one year commencing in accordance with the Bye-Laws. The term of office may be shorter or longer on a transitional basis to coincide with an alteration of the year start or end. Subject to a transitional change in the year of office”.
12.1 each Liberation Trustee must be a Member at the time of his or her election and shall continue to be a Member for the duration of their term as a Liberation Trustee.
Statement in support of motion:
Over the past few years the power that lies with the Liberation Officers has been significantly reduced, undermining their ability to pursue the interests of their Associations and to effectively ‘liberate’ their student groups
Being mere Guild Officers, leaves them unable to have a vote in any of the decision-making bodies. Recently, this has involved a whole range of decisions being made, resulting in the removal of the Women’s Room and the LGBTQ room, without reference to the Associations or the Officers except for inviting negligible involvement in creating an alternative ‘safe space’.
Moreover, this is also addresses the fact that currently our highest decision-making body doesn’t have a majority students, nor equal weighting between elected and appointed Trustees. Our Guild of Students is the only Union in the country where this is the case. By giving Liberation Officers positions on the Trustee Board, it ensures they have a voice in matters that affect the freedom and potential of their respective groups, whilst also preserving the Guild of Students as a mouth-piece of the student body in its entirety – including those students who have historically lacked ‘voice’ and empowerment.
Motion 2: Return of Liberation Rooms
Amend Existing Policy/Bye-Law: Bye Law 9
Bye Law 9
Add 4.4 Liberation Rooms
4.4.1 The Liberation Associations will be provided with Association rooms (Women’s Room, Disabled Students Room, LGBTQ Student’s Room and Ethnic Minority Student’s Room) with disabled-access, to act as ‘safe space’ and to facilitate the objectives of the Associations.
4.4.2. These rooms may only be reallocated for alternative use with the express, written permission of all of the Liberation Association Chairs and the Liberation Officers, with the understanding that a wider ‘safe space’ in the Guild and on campus has been effectively established. In addition, in the case of the rooms being reallocated, the Student Equality and Diversity Committee must convene, with invitations sent to Liberation Association Committees, to draw up an action plan regarding the improvement and preservation of a campus-wide safe space and the facilitation of continued functioning of all Associations.Statement in support of motion:
This year has seen the two Liberation rooms that did exist taken away, without asking the Liberation Associations or Liberation Officers. This contravenes any ideas of Liberation autonomy and their right to designate safe space.
The Associations that previously did not have rooms have suggested that it would be in their interest, enabling them to work together and empower their Association members.
Safe space is a right for all students. It is highly questionable whether the Guild or campus are safe spaces for the Liberation groups, so until it has been accepted by all Associations and Officers that safe space exists, and that they can function effectively without their rooms, the Liberation groups request that their rooms be returned and rooms are provided for the Birmingham Ethnic Minority Association and the Disabled and Mental Health Association.
Unions countrywide hold the right of their Liberation groups as a necessity and have provided rooms for all their Associations despite having a much more limited space in their Union buildings. The Guild of Students should respect Liberation autonomy and their right to decide how and where space space is created, and ensure their involvement from the beginning and throughout all decision-making processes affecting Liberation groups.
Motion 3: Gender-neutral Toilets
New belief and commitment: The Guild believes that all students have the right to live without fear of discrimination or judgement, and as such shall ensure the Guild is an inclusive, safe space by ensuring gender-neutral toilets are available in the Guild building, on every floor.
Statement written in support of motion:
I believe that everybody should have the right to the basic rights of life, without fear of discrimination or judgement. I believe that not having gender neutral toilets causes a great deal of discomfort to those who do not wish to use gender specific toilets, particularly trans-gender students.
This is a perfectly sustainable idea, calling for the availability of gender-neutral toilets on every floor of the Guild, alongside gender-specific toilets.
In conclusion, this is mainly about supporting every member of the Guild, and making sure that the mental health of the trans community feel supported, rather than pushed aside even more.