Posted on Sun 09 Feb 2014 at 11:51 by Louisa Ackermann
Hello and welcome to my very first, very belated Officer blog!
It's been a really busy two terms on the Women's Campaign trail. A small team and I started the year by making some leaflets about consent and sexual harassment to give out at the Fresher's Fair, and in doing so found out that not nearly enough has been done to combat sexual harassment at SU events. A huge number of women I spoke to have some kind of story about getting groped or harassed in the Copper Rooms, to the point where some said they won't even go anymore because it's not worth the trouble. This is horrendous, and more has to be done. However, I am happy to say that early on in Term 1, we passed a motion to Student Council, mandating the SU events team to update their policy on sexual harassment to one of zero-tolerance. Please know that if you are sexually harassed at a union event, you can tell a member of security staff and you will be taken seriously.
I am also currently working with a team of wonderful activists from Warwick and Coventry Universities to combat sexism at club and entertainment venues in the wider community. It never fails to shock me just how endemic sexism really is. Earlier this year, for example, the French department invited Alex Callinicos to give a seminar. Callinicos is a leading figure in the Socialist Worker's Party (SWP) who dismissed a case of rape within his party as a 'difficult disciplinary case', instead of, ya know, a henious crime. Members of WASS organised a sit-in in the seminar, during which a WASS member told him of her own experiences of being harassed by members of the SWP at rallys – which he also dismissed outright, simply telling her 'I don't believe that.' It's disgraceful that a rape apologist was ever invited to campus and I'm incredibly proud of everyone who took a stand against it.
Hopefully you have also been aware of the No More Page 3 campaign advocating a boycott of The Sun newspaper from Costcutter, which has recently achieved success at Term 2's All Student Meeting (ASM). The numbers of voters in this ASM were a massive 70% increase on the SU's previously held record. Additionally, more people voted on the NMP3 motion than any of the others which went forward at this meeting. Quite simply, this makes the issue of whether Costcutter should be selling The Sun the most representative vote on a singular issue Warwick SU has had since the Democracy review came into effect. I like to think this had something to do with our exceptionally crap singing and dancing in our campaign video.
At the moment, I'm working with a lot of societies and clubs to bring the biggest and best International Women's Week Warwick has ever seen, which will fall in Week 9. The timetable for the week will be ready very shortly, and there's some really great things lined up. It would be great to see as many of you as possible at the various events!
All that said, nominations for Sabbatical and Liberation Officers for next year are now open, and I would absolutely love to talk to any prospective Women's Officer candidates. It's hard work, but incredibly rewarding. Please do get in touch if you're interested.