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Week 3 saw the launch a new LUSU campaign working to unite liberation groups across the university to explain issues, address on and off campus problems, and provide resources for students across Lancaster. Preceded by colourful ‘x’s scattered around campus, the campaign, titled “I Won’t Stand For It” was launched to unite what has previously been multiple campaigns run by a variety of organisation.
Katie Capstick, Vice President Campaigns & Communications, spoke to SCAN and described the creation of the campaign: “It’s new because it encompasses a lot of issues and encourages students and groups to run their own miniature version of the campaign about an issue that they’re passionate about.
She continued: “In the past there have been many smaller-scale campaigns that have tackled specifically sexism for example whereas the ‘’I Won’t Stand For It’’ campaign is an overarching, umbrella campaign to tackle discrimination such as sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism and any other forms of discrimination against protected characteristics.”
While the campaign runs openly until the end of term, it has been organised by week with different themes and campaigns, headed by a number of societies. Week 3 kicked off the campaign with the reveal of why the colourful “X”s had appeared and what they mean. The “X” was chosen to say “no I won’t stand for it” and show a cross to all the discrimination and harassment.
Week 4 kicked off LGBTQ+ history month alongside LUSU’s ‘free periods’. After the continued anger over the ‘tampon tax’ LUSU has begun providing free pads and tampons to students. They are available at the LUSU welcome desk.
Week 5 is “The World at Lancaster” which works to ‘tackle racism and Xenophobia, as well as content warning awareness. Weeks 5 and 6 will see the annual performance of The Vagina Monologues. Self-defining women from across the university will be joining together to perform the show as a fundraiser for a local charity which fights against domestic violence. The charity changes each year, and the 2016 show supports LetsGo. The show will be followed by a panel with the cast and directors, and university academics who will discuss the relevance of the show. The show also serves as part of Festival of Questions, run by Lancaster Arts.
Week 6 will include events such as Reclaim the Night, Consent Week, and National Period day as part of “Violence Against Women” week. Reclaim the Night, is an event that takes place in cities and towns all over the world is about women taking back the streets they walk, where daily harassment and violence occur. This event is taking place in Lancaster for the second consecutive year. While only self defining women can be involved in the march itself, anyone is welcome to join them at The Sugarhouse, which is where the march will end.
Consent Week, organized by the Feminist Society will allow people to talk about how consent is important and offer training. This week will be highlighting sexual assault, how to fight it, and how to report it. Thursday Week 6 is National Period Pride Day and alongside LUSU’s Free Periods initiative will tackle period-shaming, and discuss menstrual health.
Week 7 highlights February as LGBTQ+ history month. With a social media campaign, and the LGBTQ+ society working all month to raise awareness, the campaign goes far beyond the individual week. Week 7 is also Islamophobia Awareness week.
Week 8 is Intersectionality Week, focusing on including women with disabilities which will tie in with Week 9 which will see a about campus accessibility. On Saturday Week 9 there will be a conference, hosted by Enactus, on Human Trafficking.
The overall campaign continues into Roses, with a focus on inclusivity in sport in conjunction with the ‘’Respect’’ pledge. Student groups have been welcomed to run their own version of the campaign.
More than 90% of students have no idea about reporting services available to them. There is also a lack of knowledge about the available Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) nearby counselling services, sexual health clinics, and how the judicial process works in regards to sex crimes.
Due to the lack of awareness about reporting, LUSU are working with ISS to create a reporting app on iLancaster. Students will be able to anonymously report an incident, whether it be property damage, discrimination, rape / sexual assault or a hate crime motivated by protected characteristics.
Students will also be able to report the incidents un-anonymously if they would like the incident to be taken further. The app will direct you to the appropriate available services that you can optionally access including the Deanery, LUSU advice, the Police or, in circumstances of rape and sexual assault by penetration, SARCs, counselling services and sexual health clinics.
The reporting app will not only help students access the services they need but will also provide us with crucial statistics so that we can help make the campus as safe as possible.
While the reaction to the campaign has been very positive overall, Capstick explains that “there are some people who have misunderstood the aims of the campaign. After reading comments on social media it’s clear that there is a chunk of the student community who feel that the issues we are discussing and tackling do not affect them. Some of our students have not faced discrimination or sexual violence towards them, however it is paramount that everyone comes together to make sure that this is the reality for everyone, as currently the reality is far from good enough for many students.
She noted that this campaign isn’t just for women but for many others: “Many people have mentioned that it’s for women only but this is unfounded. There are people of all genders who fall into the liberation groups can be subjected to racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, ableism and other forms of discrimination. People of all genders can also be sexually assaulted. So if you’re a white, middle-class, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, Western etc. man who has no mental illness, experiences no religious-based discrimination and has never been raped or sexually assaulted otherwise, then you might not be one of the main beneficiaries of what we’re trying to do.” but
Capstick made it clear that even if you haven’t been subjected to any forms of discrimination “you can still play a major part in helping us achieve our goals and helping us to educate others about the issues faced by many of our students.”
Students are encouraged to get involved, in a number of ways. You can request a campaign guidebook, can submit a blog to firstname.lastname@example.org and you can simply #IWSFI / #Iwontstandforit on Twitter and Instagram and your picture will be added to the pledge board on the webpage here: http://lusu.co.uk/iwontstandforit/