The Guild are holding focus sessions for liberation groups this week

It will include a session for women, disabled students, LGBT+ students and people of colour

Next week, the Guild will be hosting focus groups so that students from liberation groups can express how they think the Guild can better support them. The sessions will be held for self-defining women, disabled students, LGBT+ students and people of colour, between Monday and Wednesday next week.

Feedback from the sessions will be collected and developed into action plans which the Student Officers will use to help shape their future work.

This comes after an all male Student Guild Officer team has been elected, which was followed by condemnation, demanding female representation.

Three of the re-elected male candidates, and current officer Yasmin who has organised the liberation focus groups

On the Guild website they have explained:

“We recognise that these student groups can have different experiences at university. This can mean not having the same access to opportunities or facing daily discrimination. Overcoming these barriers for these groups is often referred to as “liberation”.  Liberation is important to us because discrimination against students’ identities can affect their participation, achievement, retention and progression in education. These groups of students are traditionally underrepresented and therefore their voices, and the issues that matter to them, are not heard.

“We want to better understand what issues face these groups, and find out what the Guild could be doing to offer more support.”

Yasmin Gasimova, Vice President at the Guild, who has helped organise the sessions, told the Tab:

I have been researching and planning on how to support students from liberation groups for a while now. There are no perfect systems in any student union – so I wanted to specifically ask what our students want and expect. The Guild has a huge capacity to support students and I want to make sure we are using it effectively, especially for the most vulnerable.”

Yasmin also said on the Guild wesbite:

“Since being elected I have been working hard to make sure all students have the best experience. Unfortunately some students experience additional barriers and discrimination.

“I want the Guild to look at different models of representation but also other campaigns, events and activities we could invest in. I want to make sure that whatever system we use is sustainable and meets the needs of students at the University. While it is good to draw from best practice elsewhere, I want to know exactly what our students feel we need before committing to models that may not work for us.’’

Kiran Khan, third year History student also said:

“I think each minority group being represented is fantastic. However I don’t think you can shoehorn in a female candidate on the student officer team simply due to her gender. Whilst minorities should be represented: you can’t have on a four person panel a female representative, LGBT rep, an ethnic minority rep, disabled Rep etc. There simply isn’t room, equally it acts of an assumption that the singular candidate is a representative of the whole group.

“For example, a so called black ‘BME’ rep doesn’t represent me as an Asian. But to keep it specific to the gender issue, the reason I don’t think that a quota should be introduced is because the women on next year’s student officer team will be accused of getting there for reasons aside from her own merit. Therefore further adding to the idea that women are inadequate Women are capable of achieving greatness despite the barriers we’re faced with. Therefore we do not need to be thrown a bone with a quota.”

The sessions will be held in the Gilmour room and pizza and refreshments will be provided.