Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is a key priority for NUSU. In addition to our Welfare & Equality Officer, we have seven Part-time Officers who support different marginalised/less well supported groups of students who are actively working for a fairer campus. We are also looking to further embed EDI within representation structures, ensuring that it is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Equality was voted as the top issue students would like NUSU to focus on in the 2017-18 NUSU Survey, demonstrating how important this issue is to you. As we are now a couple of months into 2019, we wanted to showcase what we have been doing to support EDI and to promote your projects and campaigns:
International Women’s Day 2019, 8th March
International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.
In Newcastle we lived our best lives and came together to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019, on Friday 8 March. At NUSU we encouraged students to join the Women’s March, calling attention to period poverty and promoting period positivity in Newcastle. People of all genders were welcome to help fight period shame break taboos and celebrate.
I Need You Knickers!
Earlier this term the It Happens Here (IHH) student society took part in the I need your Knickers (#thisisnotconsent) campaign to help raise awareness of consent and to highlight the outdated (but still used) attitude of victim blaming survivors of rape. The campaign was created in light of a recent trial, in Ireland, whereby a teenage girl’s underwear was considered as evidence against her in rape trial. You can read more about the campaign here. With support from NUSU, Newcastle University Changing the Culture group as well as many schools, donation points were set up across campus.
On the 4th February to coincide with Sexual Violence and Sexual Abuse Awareness Week, IHH decorated the Students’ Union with the donated knickers. Information was available to those who needed it and testimonials were pinned to the underwear.
The campaign raised awareness across campus and beyond when the campaign lead, Madeline Baugh, noticed that posters had been vandalised. IHH decided to use this as an example of the very reason the campaign is needed.
The feedback was far reaching and overwhelmingly positive, indicating that attitudes have and continue to change and what was once accepted will not be tolerated in 2019.
NUSU Student Summit
Jack Green (2018/19 Welfare and Equality Officer) organised the first ever NUSU Student Summit on the 27 February. The purpose of the Summit was to provide our Part-time Officers and other key student representatives of marginalised groups a place and opportunity to discuss key ideas that would improve their student experience with decision makers at the University/NUSU. The marginalised groups who were represented at the summit were:
- Marginalised Genders
- Local Students
- BAME Students
- Disabled Students
- International Students (including EU)
Recommendations were presented by each group and the attendees discussed actions to take recommendations forward to create a fairer experience for all. There will be a full report on the Student Summit coming soon.
LGBT+ Awareness Week
The LGBT+ Society led a week of events and celebrations were supported by Lauren Sykes (LGBT+ Officer) and Charlotte Boulton (Marginalised Genders Officer). The annual campaign concluded with the very first LGBT+ conference.
Trans Clothes Swap
Jack Green, supported the society led LGBT+ Awareness Week by organising a Trans clothes swap. This was hoped to show support and solidarity with the Trans community on campus.
Changing the Culture
In 2016 Universities UK published a report examining violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students on UK campuses. In response to the recommendations of the report, Newcastle University have developed the ‘Changing the Culture’ project to tackle these issues on our campus, including hate crime incidents.
NUSU are actively involved in the project alongside representatives from the University. The work continues and one of the main aims will be to launch a University reporting form and to recruit and train on campus Sexual Violence Liaison Officers making the process of reporting and disclosing as good as it can be. You can find out more here. – link to https://www.nusu.co.uk/changingtheculture/
Here at NUSU we are reviewing and improving our reporting pages in response to feedback from students.
The work continues
To help ensure EDI is covered in Academic Student Representation, we are currently consulting on whether the terms of reference for Student-Staff Committees should have an optional EDI representative position. Although each SSC can decide for themselves, we hope by having the position stated would encourage more to do so. In addition, NUSU would provide training for these representatives. If you have any thoughts on this proposal you can let us know.
By the end of summer term we are aiming to provide information for marginalised student groups in easy to navigate webpages. This project is now in the consultative stages and Fiona Cunningham (Campaigns Assistant) has been in contact with student groups for their thoughts and ideas. The webpages will contain welfare information, signposting and networking opportunities as well as social events.
We would love to support your ideas and campaigns in the strive for equality. Please get in touch to find out more.
If you would like to seek support for any issues raised in this article please see the services below: