UCLU Council blasted after blocking proposed £88 weekly stipend for LGBT Officer
UCLU Council takes the heat after refusing to provide part-time funding for LGBT officers
There are growing concerns UCL is not adequately supporting its LGBT+ students following the Union council’s decision to block a motion proposing part-time funding for future LGBT officers.
UCL has full-time paid officers representing black and minority ethnic students and a part-time Women’s Officer paid an annual £25,000. Current LGBT officer Tom Robinson is charged with representing LGBT students on issues on campus and attending NUS conferences amongst other duties – but receives no financial assistance and studies for a full-time degree.
Mr. Robinson proposed that future LGBT officers receive ten hours pay a week at London living wage (approximately £88) to ensure the role is not financially exclusive and those elected are able to spend enough time supporting students.
Financial exclusivity is particularly important because many members of the UCL LGBT community are estranged from their parents and transgender students remain vulnerable to employment discrimination. Students usually stand for part-time representative roles whilst in their busy third year of studies, meaning it is felt that a weekly stipend would ensure as broad a cross section of candidates applies for 2014-2015.
UCLU’s decision against the motion on Wednesday has raised major questions on who should control funding for liberation campaigns. The proposed amount was decided upon by UCL LGBT students and rejected by Council, representatives of whom are not exclusively students or typically involved in liberation campaigns.
Considering that UCLU Council has previously mandated the equal standing of officers from all liberation campaigns, its decision has faced widespread criticism. On Twitter, critics highlighted that the £88 in question is roughly similar to the wage of barrista at Gordon’s Café. It is believed representatives felt subsiding this role could lead to other societies demanding similar funding. With Women’s Officer Beth Sutton receiving £25,000 per annum for leading female liberation on campus, such excuses have understandably fallen on deaf ears.
This is not the first time UCL has faced criticism surrounding its treatment of the LGBT community. Earlier this term it emerged LGBT staff were not consulted over the establishment of UCL Qatar, where homosexual acts between men are illegal and sodomy is punished with up to 3 years in prison.
Throughout February, a rainbow will fly from the Portico for LGBT History month. On the ground, however, UCLU Council blocks efforts to support a strong LGBT Future.