Guild petition launched calling for gender quotas in the Student Officer elections

The petition calls for 50% of the officer team to be reserved for women, trans people and non-binary people

Guild Vice-President Yasmin Gasimova has launched a petition through the Guild’s ‘Change it’ website asking for the Guild to ensure that at least 50% of the Student Officer team is reserved for women, trans people and non-binary people.

The petition also asks that the Guild researches different election and voting methods “to make sure that elections are as accessible to liberation groups as possible, and that the process is as democratic as can be achieved”.

If the petition reaches 20 votes it will be discussed at the Guild Summit. The summit, which involves 50 students selected at random by a computer system based on gender, mode of study, level of study, ethnicity and mature students, will then have to reach a consensus on the issue.

Yasmin, who was the only female student officer this academic year, said: “The problems we’re facing are rooted in deep patriarchal social attitudes that are difficult to overcome through election strategies alone. We need quotas – and research has consistently shown that quotas do not compromise on the quality of work that is achieved by people who are helped by them.

The 2016/2017 student officer team

The 2016/2017 student officer team

“Being the only woman officer this year has been frankly difficult to say the least. On top of having to automatically take on the more gendered/welfare portfolio (and having to give up work around academia to my colleagues) I have become exhausted from the inability of my colleagues to understand some really important issues concerning women. Next year it will be an all male officer team – which horrified me and many other people who have worked incredibly hard fighting for women and other marginalised genders.

The Liverpool Guild student officer elections were hit with controversy this year, after the first all-male officer team since 1982 was elected into office. Sean Turner, Ananda Mohan and Oba Akinwale were all re-elected in March alongside newly elected Rory Hughes.

The petition states “We recognise that the larger problem with unbalanced gender representation in the Officer team is based on deep rooted patriarchal problems. Whilst we overwhelmingly only see cis male leaders in power, we have socially idealised a typically heroic and masculine leadership.

“This leads to students often perceiving women, trans and non binary candidates as less capable or less likable if they do not fit that ideal, or are described as “bitchy” or “bossy” for overstepping their perceived gender roles. This policy aims to mitigate these problems by ensuring that women, trans and non-binary people are represented despite these barriers. “

Female candidates who ran for office expressed disbelief at the all-male team when the results were announced last month, with Rhiannon Farrell writing in The Tab that she hoped the new team would “continue to consider Women’s Student Welfare at the Guild and university, but let’s be honest, no one can understand the impacts of decisions affecting women, quite like a woman”.