An update from your Women's Officer

My name is Chloe (she/they) and I am your full-time elected Women’s Officer on Cambridge SU for the current academic year. After being in office now for just over two months, I am excited to share my priorities for this year with you! After spending three years studying at undergraduate level I have come to appreciate the amazing work done by the SU in advocating for marginalised students on campus, and want to continue to emulate this in my work with the Women’s Campaign. 

 

The role of a full-time Women’s Officer is vital in providing proper representation for women and non-binary students whose needs are often not recognised within the patriarchal structures of the University. Whether this be in pushing for improved consent education, protecting our rights to protest peacefully on campus, or fighting the gender pay gap, our voices should be heard. With the recent merging of the undergraduate and postgraduate unions, I also intend to improve representation for postgraduate students by focusing campaigning on staff-student relations policies and supporting UCU’s anti-casualisation campaign. 

 

Alongside working on various University committees, the majority of my work takes place through the Cambridge SU Women’s Campaign. During my own time at Cambridge I have come to appreciate the value of organising spaces that build networks of community and solidarity amongst their members. I want to make WomCam an inclusive and engaging space, led by the interests of ALL of its members. That is why I want to work on updating our resources on fighting transphobia, and begin consciousness raising around the meaningful inclusion of student sex workers within feminist organising. However, meaningful solidarity must also involve actively listening to the concerns of campaign members through strengthening the WomCam democratic structures. This means making our campaigning collaborative, introducing community outreach roles on our committee and making sure that the Women’s Officer remains accountable to its members at our weekly forums- allowing members to vote on any motions I intend to introduce to SU Council. My main intentions are to begin setting the foundations for a more long term project of centring liberation and community at the heart of our feminist organising, as previous Women’s Officers have done. 

 

One key issue I intend to focus on this year is safety on campus. A lot of my work  focuses on issues of consent and sexual violence, whether that be on campaigning to reform disciplinary procedures or advocating for improved support services at the University. A key component of this is making consent education an ongoing and inclusive process that is able to link sexual violence to deeper structures of inequality and cultures of complicity. This means building on the work I have done to improve consent training resources, and working with students in our collective consent campaign. With the onset of the pandemic, I also intend to make sure that the collegiate University considers the interests of student survivors when developing social distancing policies, and the dangers of punitive enforcement measures. 

 

It is also important to make sure that feminist organising takes place at a college level. This means establishing better lines of communication with JCR and MCR Women’s and Gender Equality Officers. I hope to organise skills shares that can support officers in campaigning on common issues within their colleges; consent workshops, women’s only gym hours, free sanitary products and provision for gender neutral toilets. The experiences of women and non-binary students should be consistent across the collegiate University, and college committees are a key aspect of this. 

 

If you think that something is missing from my priorities for this year please get in touch, I want to be campaigning on the issues that matter to the people I represent! To get involved in the work of the Women’s Campaign come along to our Welcome Social during Fresher’s Week or to one of our weekly forums, held every Tuesday at 7pm. I look forward to hearing from you in the year ahead.