UWE Students’ Union set to elect first Men’s Officer in new ‘liberation’ roles
Women’s, BME and Trans Officers are also being introduced for the first time
UWE Students' Union are for the first time introducing Men's Officers in SU by-elections taking place this week.
A series of new "liberation" roles have been created, with Black Minority Ethnic (BME) Officers, Trans Officers and Women's Officers also being introduced.
UWE is one of the first universities to introduce the role of Men's Officer role, after Keele University elected one in 2015, despite opposition at the time.
The UWE SU elections page advertises that a "Liberation [role] is the movement for the removal of discrimination and oppression of groups within society.
"The Men's Officer is there to ensure that mens' perspective is taken into consideration by the rest of The Students’ Union by being part of the Executive and are in a position to meet with university officials to raise the issues that are important to male students."
James Knight, the first and only Men's Officer candidate, told The UWE Tab: "I think the main area that pushed me to run is surrounding the poor state of mental health services at UWE. I know how deeply mental health issues can run in men and how much of a taboo it can be for men to talk about their mental health.
"Our students need better and the level that's being provided frankly just isn't good enough. We need more motivated student voices to hold the university accountable for promises they've made (and in some cases broken). The Vice-Chancellor particularly has a lot to answer for in where potential funding for services goes."
This isn't the first time that UWE's VC Steve West has been asked questions regarding university funding, as a Dispatches documentary discovered earlier this year.
James is currently the only candidate running for this new position but hopes that if elected, his work will encourage more candidates to run in years to come.
Previously, other UK universities have criticised the role of a Men's Officer, saying it is redundant because men do not face discrimination for being men, and therefore do not deserve a "liberation" role in Student Unions.
Apparently during elections at uni there's always someone like 'If there's a women's officer, why isn't there a MEN'S officer???' #facepalm
— Karis Hanson (@Karis_Lily) February 2, 2013
Though James assures voters that "the role of the Men's Officer is inherently not the same type of liberation remit as Women's and Trans Officers and I hope students see that.
"Regardless of whether or not people believe the role should exist, I believe the role should exist and would benefit a significant amount of people within the structure of the SU and the wider university."
James' manifesto reads: "Men have been proven to struggle at university, both pastorally and in their mental health. In the UK, men are three times as likely to take their own lives as women with Samaritans reporting the main issues causing this including masculinity, relationship breakdowns, emotional literacy and socio-economic factors.
"There were reportedly 121 young male suicides last year. Male issues, specifically those surrounding mental health, must be championed within the Students' Union and the university, and I believe I can be that representative voice."
Bristol saw at least 13 student deaths between UWE and the University of Bristol last year.
In addition, the role of Trans, BME and Women's Officers have been introduced to UWE, taking the necessary steps toward a more inclusive and cohesive university community.
Candidates running for these posts expressed the imminent need for under-represented voices to be heard and to tackle oppression that minorities may face.
You can read candidate manifestos and vote in the by-elections on the SU website from Monday 22nd October at 10am until Thursday 25th October at 10pm.