CN: food, mention of harassment & queerphobia, mild violent analogy
Wow – it’s been a whirlwind first few weeks as your president, packing in a huge amount at the end of term. So why am I taking the time to write an article to you instead of kicking back with a warm cup of hot chocolate and listening to some cheesy Christmas tunes? We feel it’s important that you know what we as CUSU LGBT+ are up to, including all the little things that don’t make headline news. We want you to be a part of what we’re doing, but first you need to know what that is, so here’s the first little roundup of what your committee has been up to.
On the events side of things, we’ve been running our usual coffee meets and Kaleidoscope nights, but on top of that we’ve had our speaker’s event with Evan Davies and the huge series of events put together for Trans Awareness Month. Personally, my favourite has been the spoken word and poetry night, which concluded Trans Awareness Month, and that’s not just because someone foolishly allowed me to perform! We’ll continue running our regular stuff during next term, but we’ll also have lots more on for LGBT+ history month and some possible collaborations with other unis.
We’ve been engaging with local charities which support LGBT+ people in the region so that we can share knowledge and make sure students are seen as an integral part of the community. To this end we attended the AGMs of Centre 33 and sexYOUality, and also the trans networking event organised by Encompass Network. We’ve also asked the local MP Daniel Zeichner to support the Early Day Motion in parliament calling for the legal recognition of non-binary gender identities.
We’re trying to improve how we engage with all of you throughout the year, and we would love for more people to be involved. This can be in anything from planning campaigns to running an event; please do get in touch with us if you’re interested in anything. We also want you to be a more integral part of the decisions we make, and to this end we ran the first LGBT+ Forum event which had lots of people turning up and telling us their views. We’ll be organising more next term, as well as a wider survey on what you think of all the things we do.
Perhaps the most important issue we’ve been working on is the representation of LGBT+ students at the university’s management level. The university makes a lot of decisions through a whole network of committees, which only CUSU sabbatical officers are invited to. This means that all the autonomous campaigns without sabbatical officers simply aren’t invited to attend and our voices are lost. We think this is a complete travesty that we aren’t even invited to attend things like the Equality and Diversity committee, and we’ve been spearheading the push, with the support of other autonomous campaigns, to change this. The current situation means we’re always on the back foot, being forced to be reactive to what little information filters down to us. Important decisions which affect LGBT+ students are made by the university, but we are never invited to be part of the conversation. CUSU LGBT+ is, at its heart, the voice for LGBT+ students, who are the only ones who truly know what affects us and what needs to change. We’ll bang on the door to be let into these conversations, and break it down if we have to, because we cannot be silent in the face of the systemic erasure and oppression we face.
Looking forwards, we’ve already got a lot planned for next term. Specifically, we’ll be working on producing training materials as part of a collaboration with the CUSU Women’s Campaign on the Good Night Out Campaign. Its aim is to tackle harassment in nightclubs, and we’ll be covering the specific forms of harassment LGBT+ people face. There are also plans in the works to reform the way in which we deliver welfare-related activities to you, so that we can ensure that it’s of really high quality, and in doing so ensure the safety of any vulnerable person who comes to us for help.
I hope you all have a great holiday period!
Sarah Gibson, CUSU LGBT+ president