I am proud to be a member of the Strathclyde University community. As the first of my family to attend university, I wasn’t certain about what to expect from my experience, but I never imagined it to be half as good as it has been so far – and I’m only 2 years into my degree!
Unfortunately, my time here has also not been without tarnish due to the outdated, male-centric, bullying culture. I am fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to view the university from various positions; from a petrified first year student, to a class rep, from a clubs and society member to a sabbatical officer – and yet this is not something that I have been able to avoid in any of these positions.
No one wants to think negatively about their uni, but when this culture translates directly into the actions and behaviours of those around us, we can’t just ignore it and hope it goes away on its own. I have had lecturers reveal “what they like to see on a woman” mid-lecture. I have seen female opinions be ignored during lectures in favour of selecting males to speak out. I have had lecturers who lock the door once it turns 10 past the hour and either refuse you entry or demand an explanation as to why you are late (clearly, never having considered that some of us have periods, care responsibilities, disabilities, religious beliefs, and anything else that we should not be made to share with a lecture room full of hundreds of people). Why is this accepted?
Calling it out would often involve hypocrisy, as these attitudes are present in many positions above our lecturers – as a sabbatical officer I heard a member of the senior management practically gloating that they had other staff members “quaking outside their door”.
The most painful thing about this is that it often goes unmentioned unless you are the person subjected to it.
Our generation is one which is much more conscious of these kinds of issues, but the university is not run by our generation. It is time for us to hold the university to account for this.
That’s why I’m joining my colleagues, fellow student and staff members in making the following demands from the University:
1. Adopt COMPASSIONATE as one of our core values.
2. Commit to closing the gender pay-gap definitively by 2025.
3. Name the new Learning and Teaching building after someone who is not male.
4. Provide staff at all levels with comprehensive and standardised annual training in LGBT+, gender, disability and BAME comprehension, as well as bystander training.
5. Fully implement the Equally Safe in Higher Education Toolkit recommendations by 2021"
FACT: 89% of the lowest paid staff at the University are women.