Written by Jack Salter (LGBT+ Officer 2013/14)
QUESTION YOUR TEAM
So that you can better understand what we’ve been up to as a committee, and how we have made the decisions we have, we invited you to question the team about our activities.
Below are the answers to the questions posed to us. There were at total of 17 questions submitted, but the committee felt that 5 of these should be redacted as unhelpful and personal. We thank those who posed genuine questions – they gave us a lot to think about!
Anybody whose question was not answered is entitled to challenge that decision by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Open Committee Meeting will take place in C20, Portland Building, University Park at 5pm on Wednesday 2nd April.
Why do you think you’ve struggled to keep a trans officer on your committee? is committee a safe space for trans students? (I’ve heard some pretty awful stuff about the way non-binary people have been treated, which is worrying )
I don’t want to speculate as to the reasons why our previous Trans* Officers have decided to leave the Committee – they have their own individual reasons for doing so and I and the rest of Committee respect that. I understand that it has been a disappointment to not have a continuous Trans* voice on committee this year for the members, and I hope that whoever takes the post in this By-Election is encouraged to run for the role for the full year next year. However, I can say with assurance that Committee is a safe space for all members – we will always try to help and encourage each other, and any issues that we have we try to resolve openly and without resorting to becoming too personal. This means respecting the sexual/romantic orientation and gender identity of all members, and working to be inclusive of all Network members on the same grounds.
Jack, many people have said to me they were upset about the way you pretended be an air hostess when you were calling out the destinations on the London trip because people thought it was sexist and classist.
I am sorry if I caused any offence in my actions on the Manchester & London trips. I was intending to make a light-hearted parody, which might make the process of waking up after the journey back a little easier. I had no intentions of sexism and classism at all, as I feel very strongly against them both. I can only apologise if I slipped up on this occasion.
Jack! As far as I am aware you have done nothing as Officer this year, why is this? I don’t mean stuff that the Officer has to do like committee meetings and stuff I mean things beyond that. Please don’t try to waffle your way out of this and at least admit if you think you haven’t done a very good job this year.
I was aware from the beginning that my year as Officer may not be one of massive “wins” which could be shouted about, but I do not think that I have done “nothing” as Officer this year – on the contrary, I have thrown my heart and soul into this position and have tried to change many things within the network.
At the beginning of the year we rebranded the Network, which has in my view made the Network more recognisable, more of a community and also a more inclusive and inviting place to be. I’ve also worked very hard at building relationships with the other Officers and the staff of the Union, getting them on board with the LGBT Campaign and strengthening our cause. I think that we have a great solidarity behind us there and I’m so proud of that, but I’ve also not been afraid to raise my voice as often as I need to. I’ve also been building relationships with the Union’s staff, the University (including the LGBTQ Staff Network and the Student Services department) and helping them in their strive to become one of the most trans-inclusive and supportive Universities in the country. I think I can confidently say that our concerns are taken more seriously by the University than ever before. I have also spent time cultivating a relationship with the local Police force in Nottingham, ensuring that if any serious incidents of hate crime occur in the city, our members are informed and therefore can protect themselves (fortunately this has not happened so far this year).
One of the things that I am most proud of this year is how well the Part-Time Officers have worked together, shown most clearly in the event “ID: Liberation and Me” that we ran, which really put intersectionality on the map as a Union. I am such a strong believer in Intersectionality and I was so proud to be able to work in a team that felt the same – we managed to deliver our message to a great variety of students across the day and I’m pleased that the incoming Part-Time Officer-elects are keen to run the event again next year.
Other than that, I know you asked me not to waffle on about things that the Officer is meant to do, but I have tried so hard to make sure that I have supported the Committee and the members as much as I can this year. I have a team of 15 fantastic people around me, who work tirelessly for this Network and I think that has to be recognised. I’ve been seriously impressed with the work that they’ve been doing this year and I hope that I’ve given them the level of support that they needed to perform this year. Really, I think that’s the main part of my job: I am a megaphone for the voice of this Network and I have tried my hardest to include you in what I do. That might mean not getting mega-wins, but that doesn’t bother me. If I leave this network feeling as if it’s a place that our members feel safe, supported and included, then I feel like I’ve done a good job.
Questions for Campaigns
What do you do with the councils and how does it help the LGBT Network here?
What was your speech about?
What actually happened with iSoc and The Tab?
I sit on Nottingham City Councils LGBT Scrutiny & Consultative Forum as well as a Hate Crime Forum, and I recently collaborated with Nottingham County Council and their “Education for All” conferences. I’ve been working with the City council for two years, and with the County council for one. Neither one is in the Campaigns remit, but I feel as though both of these contribute to the LGBT Network at UoN.
The Scrunity and Consultative Forum is made up of representatives from the LGBT community – voluntary and community organisations, LGBT media outlets, healthcare professionals etc – and provides advice and consultancy on Council policies and services. These services and policies are directly relevant to you as a citizen of Nottingham. I took concerns about Healthy Gay Nottingham closing down, trans* welfare provision not being adequate and even student parking fines to the panel. Making connections with people at the council has been invaluable, and they have been really supportive of our network.
I basically got involved with the Nottinghamshire County Council on a personal capacity as I grew up in Nottinghamshire. The work I did with Nottinghamshire County Council was to bring LGBT+ education into schools, colleges and youth clubs. I was a keynote speaker at two of their conferences and as a result I’ve had a lot of requests from primary and secondary schools who want better LGBT education. This has been a wholly personal endeavour, but I’ve recently opened it up to students who want to be involved with the Out In Schools campaign. The previous campaigns officers started doing out in schools, but it fizzled out a bit because there weren’t many schools open to the idea. My aim is to personally connect with schools in an attempt to try and get a pool of schools to build links with after I have left. I’ve been into eleven schools so far including primary and CofE schools, so I feel as though this work really is beginning to accumulate into a brilliant project.
I’m also going to be working with Diversity Role Models over summer to establish some proper training, so this work is going to benefit the network and Nottingham(shire) in the long term!
I assume you mean the speech from the “Education for All” conference? I was asked to speak about growing up in Nottinghamshire as an LGBT student and what education policies would have made it easier for me at school. I spoke about how on referral pads there is a box for racism and bad behaviour, but none for homophobia. I spoke about how teachers just aren’t being trained to deal with homophobia, but statistics show that teachers *do* want to be trained on how to deal with it… If you email me at email@example.com then I can email you the speech. I spoke along with a representative from Stonewall and from Leicestershire Council (who have a brilliant system for tackling LGBT+ bullying!)
Some of our members were approached by student media outlets who attempted to provoke antagonism between the LGBT Network and the Islamic Society. This is with regards to an event run as part of the ISoc’s brilliant “Discover Islam” week, of which some of our committee attended and were warmly welcomed. I co-wrote a statement, along with Isoc, condemning the rhetoric of the student media outlets.
I think the best article to read if you want more information would be:http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/…/nus-conference_b…
As someone who has been here for nearly five years, the Campaigns calendar is better now than it has ever been. So way-hey!
My question is… Can you please do an event with the faith networks? In light of the iSoc scandal I think you could do more with the faith networks.
Yes! I think that is a fantastic idea, and something I would be very happy to do. When I wrote the statement I talked to many members of the Islamic Society committee who said they’d love to have a cafe or a myth busting session. We discussed doing something at the last committee meeting, so watch this space!
What have you done in terms of campaigns?
Prior to being elected to the committee in October, I helped with planning the Spirit Day events and ran one of the stalls for most of the day. Lucy and I worked together and with the subcommittee in planning the events for history month – the Elly Barnes talk, the sleep out and the pride fundraiser.
I think you are all doing a fine job, however have you thought about doing more campaigning around council motions?
On the one hand, I think campaigning around council motions is a fantastic idea but it does depend on the motion. I was personally for the boycott of The Sun, but I would have felt uncomfortable campaigning for it on behalf of the Network because I feel as though the Network is there to represent the opinion of students in it. Not all students agreed with the boycott, so campaigning for it would not have been a representative thing to do.
On the other hand, there are several motions that we want to talk for council, including a motion regarding the blood ban and GNTs, that I think would be very worthwhile campaigning for.
Questions for Welfare
Apparently on the London scene crawl, condoms were provided on the coach but dental dams were not… Is there a reason for this?
This is something I will aim to improve next year.
Wahey thanks for considering running for welfare!
Basically it comes down to availability. The uni does have a dental dam system but they’re constantly low on stock so giving them out can be tricky. We’re hoping to get the safe sex on nights out to be more comprehensive, and we’re hoping to fully launch it as a proper thing in the new academic year. For now, we’re running with what we can. Condoms are cheaper and more easily accessible, which is why we managed to get some for London, which was done last minute as it was uncertain if any welfare could go until Thursday.
Also condoms can be made into dental dams (http://std.about.com/od/oralsextips/ig/make-a-dental-dam/), so they’re somewhat multifunctional until we can sort out dental dams as a permanent part of the scheme!
Hope this explains the absence of dental dams, we’re working on it!
Why is this: “There will be games (who can put a condom on a demonstrator fastest) etc.” a part of a welfare event? As someone who has anxiety issues, this is going to turn me off. Totally the wrong approach.
Firstly, I want to say that on reflection I realise this could be seen as a bad idea. As someone with anxiety myself, I know sometimes being forced to do things like games can be deeply uncomfortable, so I understand the concerns about this.
To answer why I’m doing this, I’m basing it on research. According to HealthyU, the biggest issue they face getting students to engage in the sexual health provisions in place is that people feel awkward about it. As someone raised by a very sex positive GP mother, I feel I am oddly at ease with sexual matters. It’s this kind of “it happens, let’s have fun with it” attitude that allows me to be so forward asking for help, and getting tested, etc. The aim of the games is to try and get people talking about condoms and dental damns, comfortable with handling them, and just try and take some of the ‘epicness’ out of it. What I mean by that is that people seem to see sexual health as some “other” thing, which is done when needed. I want to make it all more familiar.
So, hope that fully explains the why. As for the how, I’m really passionate about people taking the steps they want to. If you don’t want to engage in the games, if you want to sit and chill, then that’s fine. The games will be on the half hour access breaks, and something to do to entertain yourself if you want to. If you don’t want to, there’s definitely no pressure to take part. It’s just something for those who want to take part in.
I hope that’s all ok, if there any more concerns you can contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org, or facebook me. If anyone wants to comment anonymously, you can via the comments box, but please remember that I can’t respond directly there, only via public responses which takes time!
Questions for Social Secs
I just went to London and I thought it was disgraceful that you left a first year in charge of 60 people just because you wanted to get drunk which both of you did.
I also thought taking off your committee tops was stupid and you should have called the places first. I have experience in being a Social Sec and although some clubs don’t like groups just turning up, if you would ring them then it is fine.
I feel like you all care more about being cliquey and drunk than making sure other people are having a good time.
RESPONSE FROM ANNIE & JAMIE
Whilst Emily took on the role as sober rep, it was still us who were responsible and in charge of the event. In fact, all committee members on the trip were fantastic at helping out and enabling the trip to go as smoothly as it did. The role of sober rep was offered to all members of committee, and Emily was kind enough to volunteer. Though she is a first year, she is an equal as a committee member, and I feel that it would have been an disservice to her to think that she was not capable of fulfilling the role, especially in light of the fantastic job that she did. We also made sure that she knew that she had our full support and that she would never be left to deal with a situation on her own.
London bars and clubs are notoriously difficult to get into, and we’ve had a lot of experience with G-A-Y run places in both London and Manchester and found them unwilling to let in big groups. In light of this, although taking off our committee tops may have been an overly cautious precaution, we wanted to take every measure to make it easier for our members to get into the venues to ensure that they had as good a night as possible. We also made the decision not to ring them in advance in case that this would make them less likely to let us in if they knew we were coming.
We feel that as social secs, our biggest responsibility is to ensure that every member at our events feels welcomed and has a good time. It is something we try our utmost to do, and we really regret if anyone feels that this is not the case. We both made an effort to interact with everyone at the event, although this was limited at times (especially in Heaven) by virtue of the layout and people being in different places.
As always, if anyone has any comments or concerns, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com or Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternately you can use the anonymous comment box on our website, but please note that we will be unable to respond unless you leave contact details.
RESPONSE FROM EMILY
Being the first year sober rep for the London trip was daunting, yes, but I was not forced to take this position, I volunteered. I was not left in charge of 60 people, all members of committee were equally responsible and were very helpful on the night. I was only sober rep so that in case anything happened, we had somebody with a completely clear head to help out. When I volunteered to be sober rep I had all of committee behind me to support me and they made it clear that I was not solely in charge of people, in fact responsibility was equally shared.
Questions for All the Team
Why have some people on committee dropped out of representing us at NUS LGBT Conference? I don’t think that is very fair.
RESPONSE FROM LUCY
I am one of the people who dropped out, and I dropped out due to commitments with the Diversity Role Model project I’m working on. I think this project will ultimately be better for the LGBT Network than going to NUS LGBT Conference.
Also, it’s important to remember that committee members are not obligated to attend NUS LGBT Conference and as they’re doing UoN LGBT things alongside studying, sometimes studying takes precedence!
RESPONSE FROM BARON
The main reason for withdrawing my nomination is my workload, which is ever increasing and becoming tougher, thanks to the demand of the PhD. I found out last week (after submitting my nomination) that I will be giving my first ever public talk at an astronomy conference the following week after the LGBT conference, and I feel I need that weekend to prepare and do as much work for it. I don’t think I’ll be able to commit to the LGBT conference as much as I wanted to and I think the other candidates will do a much better job representing the disabled members. I apologise for not going through with the nomination as a committee member and I wish all the other candidates the best, but at the end of the day I must put my PhD first.
Hey, I’ve been in your group on facebook for little while but I am really considering leaving…
I hate the use of words like queer, yeah it’s just a word and we should move past these terms. I mean after all how do you take a word power away? make it a joke but I refuse to be defined by my sexuality, I feel if I join in with something with the term queer in it then I am doing just that, being defined by my sexuality…
I feel like a normal person, being gay is not something i go out of my way to think about… I’m just me, not a queer… not a gay… not part of some club. I’m just a person.
We as a network fully support an individual’s right to self-define who they are. We would never seek to put anyone into a box. We know that sexual/romantic orientation and gender identity/expression are deeply personal things and are more of a spectrum than set defined categories.
We also never prescribe how many and what events our members come along to – if you just want to be in the network group but don’t want to come along to any events, that’s fine.
What we try to do here is to provide a safe space and a community for those students at the University of Nottingham who feel they do not fit into a heteronormative society. We will always endeavor to be there for our members when they need us, but that doesn’t ever mean that we require anything back. The Network, we know, is an important place for many of our members, and we will always endeavor to do right by them, but if you don’t want to get involved then that’s your call and we respect that.
If your issue stems from any actions or omissions by the committee, please contact us email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or through our anonymous comments box and we will seek to resolve the issues.