The Students’ Union has passed a motion to ensure the protection of students involved in sex work. As a result, Student Senate resolved to lobby the university to prevent the exclusion of any student under the guidelines of the Student Behaviour Policy for engaging in sex work.
This comes after recent research by the National Union of Students (NUS) highlighted the extent of the problem for many students. 35% of respondents already in the industry admitted that they needed the extra work to help fund their university tuition, and 53% for paying rent. Research in 2015 estimated that 1 in 20 students were engaged in some form of sex work. Also highlighted in the report, noted by the senate, was the fact that 55% of sex workers consider themselves to have some kind of disability (which can include a broad range of difficulties, mental or physical).
Also, confidential advisers will be made available for anyone engaged in the industry, as well as ensuring that the use of post-exposure prophylaxis (PeP) is considered for extenuating circumstances due to its side effects. The latter refers to taking antiviral medication after potentially being exposed to HIV. Its side effects vary by person, but can be severe depending on the subject. The motion passed by 20 votes out of a possible 23, with little resistance.
Also discussed was a ban on plastic straws in the Students Union. The proposer argued that “The environment and sustainability are growing concerns for the general public and Cardiff students”. The current Ethical and Environmental Officer, Jess Warren, seconded the motion, with both suggesting that without plastic straws, the Union could have a better “burden on the environment”, and “improve the wider community”. Unsurprisingly, the ban passed with 22 votes.. How it will be implemented remains to be seen, with biodegradable straws being considered.
The third motion passed without resistance, discussing postgraduate bursaries and grants. The proposer, Jake Smith, the current Vice President for Postgraduate students, encouraged the senate to resolve that the Students’ Union support a range of motions, including lobbying the NUS to lobby the government for better financial support.
Finally, and surprisingly most controversially, it was discussed whether to install better hand dryers in the Arts and Social Sciences Library. The motion noted that the toilets in the ASSL “possess 2 very low quality hand dryers per set of toilets”, acknowledging that they “struggle to perform adequate hand drying procedure”.
Despite some smiles on the faces of the senators at the suggestion that “Those who do dry their hands may use both hand dryers at the same time to speed up the process”, which is deemed “not desirable”, fierce debate ensued, particularly surrounding the Students’ Union’s role in a clear issue for the maintenance department of the University. Despite these protestations however, the motion passed with 19, and 4 abstaining. The next senate will meet over the coming months.