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With reductions to the EWD positions, Torri Crapper VP (EWD) proposed an amendment to the by-law to add an extra Welfare Campaigns Officer.
The reforms to the positions that come under the remit of the VP (EWD) meant that there would be fewer people performing these roles with the aim that they would have a more direct and focused role.
Michael Payne, LUSU President, said at Union Council that the Union had to move away from “electing an officer for every problem,” adding, “We absolutely have to move away from the idea that you have to be an elected representative to be represented.”
Tom Skarbek-Wazynski, Bowland JCR President, backed up this argument. “All of those people that signed that petition [to keep a women’s only post] could get involved if they wanted to,” he said.
However, Crapper felt – along with other EWD officers – that more people were needed in this area to help with the workload. “The majority of the review is really good,” Crapper said, “But I’m disappointed with the minority group representation that has disappeared.” She added, “It just puts more onus on me and the other officers to represent the student population.”
Students agreed with them. “In a region where a member of the BNP is our European representative and on a campus where getting out of Alexandra Square on a mobility scooter is not easily done… we’re losing our welfare officers,” said Hannah Sauer, a member of the Feminist Society and the Vice President for the International Mandarin Society.
Another student, Hazel Monforton, who is VP for the Writers’ Guild and an international student said: “The people who had no direct experience with working in [EWD] positions just dismissed [the EWD officers’] comments and wouldn’t listen to them.”
Sam Johnson, the Non-Sabbatical Women’s Officer spoke on behalf of Catriona Clark, the Non-Sabbatical Students with Disabilities Officer, in favour of the move to have two Welfare Campaigns Officers.
The amendment failed to pass at a council vote, and so the by-law was passed with the original suggestion of there being just one Welfare Campaigns Officer.
Johnson spoke up later in the evening, to propose an amendment to protect the interests of her position; a position that will no longer exist with the passing of the review.
Johnson wished to make the position of Liberation Campaigns Officer a position that only women could run for. She made the point that this would guarantee that there would be at least one woman in an EWD position.
Matt Saint, one of the current Block of Six Officers, made the point that “women should be able to run against men to get that position.” Payne agreed with this point, and when taken to a vote, the amendment did not pass.
It was important to Johnson to fight for this, she said, in light of the loss of funding for the women’s only bus being stopped by LUSU in the budget for this academic year.
Johnson was keen to stress, however, that she did agree with the review as a whole, despite there being several points of contention raised over petitions submitted to the council, which were unable to be considered at the council due to them not being submitted by the appropriate time. “We are voluntary officers, we do care – that’s why I spent hours gathering a petition,” she said.