By Olly Davies
This October, Cardiff University Students’ Union is holding Autumn Elections to fill the positions of LGBT plus Women’s Officer; Student Senate; Scrutiny Committee; NUS Wales Conference Delegates; and NUS UK National Conference for the current academic year.
The role of the LGBT+ (Women’s) Officer is to identify and represent Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Plus students’ interests and to campaign on any relevant issues on their behalf. The officer will work closely with full time staff at the Union, including the Sabbatical Officers, to ensure the university remains a safe environment for LGBT+ students. This involves researching, highlighting, and campaigning for issues and to enact change at an executive level.
There are a variety of things current Cardiff students told Gair Rhydd they would like to see from the new LGBT+ (Women’s) Officer. One student said, “generally the women’s position doesn’t seem to do much… I heard last year they were going to be adding more gender-neutral loos in all the uni buildings but that’s all I’ve heard”. This student felt they “just go to student political meetings”. They would like to see more dynamism and action.
Other students have said they would like the LGBT+ (Women’s) Officer to be more easily accessible. Kt Barret-Powell, a third-year student, said “it’s not about running events or having a strict plan”. For them, they believe the role is “just [about] being there to represent students” and feel it should be filled by “someone [students] can confide in without the fear of being belittled or laughed at, someone who will take them seriously and try to help them if they can”.
Another third-year student told Gair Rhydd that “people can be really isolated in first year with their struggles and its very much help is available if you go look for it but sometimes when you need help its hard to go look for it and its a lot easier if its actually knocking on your doorstep asking if you need anything” [sic].
One student, who wanted to remain anonymous, said, “Cardiff is quite good at LGBTQ++ issues compared to a lot of other unis in the UK; it’s trying but it’s not perfect”. In an interview, they highlighted statistics published by Stonewall UK that claim “about half of LGBT people experienced a period of depression in the last year and one in eight people aged 18-24 said they’ve attempted to take their own life in the last year”.
In light of these statistics, as well as “54% of trans individuals report[-ing] that they have been told by their GP that they don’t know enough about trans-related care to provide it”, this student would like to see the LGBT+ (Women’s) Officer talking to local GP surgeries to ensure they are able to provide the necessary care for students.
Moreover, this individual feels that “when you treat everyone the same, the viewpoint you get is straight, white and male. Giving all students the same resources isn’t necessarily equality when some groups of people need more access, especially with mental health services”.
The four candidates for the LGBT+ (Women’s) Officer are Rose Baker; Jincong Chen; Rebecca Fisher-Jackson; and Tilly Perkins. Voting will take place from Monday 4 November at 9:00 to Friday 7 November at 17:00.