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‘On the Campaign Trail’ – The Heroic Task of Equal Opportunities

As promised, the The Equal Opportunities and Welfare candidates remained dressed in their campaign outfits- superhero Sophie Hindley, Power Ranger Elorm Haligah, Rosie Tressler and Matt Byrne both in self-made t-shirts for their their Candidate Question time. The questioning proved to be more intense than at Sutton Bonington the night before, forcing the candidates to think about issues which they admitted to not having initially contemplated.

After a nervous start, the candidates settled into question time with relative ease. As their confidence grew the candidate’s knowledge about their competitors came to light. Byrne pre-empted Tressler’s response, claiming “she would not say that there is one issue facing women and I would say that there is not one issue facing men”, lightening the mood on a somewhat serious subject matter. It became apparent that concerns regarding the importance of dealing with mental health issues facing the student body were something which they all intend to tackle. Byrne admitted that he had suffered a few problems with settling in and highlighted the stigma attached to male depression, pointing directly to the “de- masculinising feelings associated with it”. Similarly, Haligah showed concerns regarding the effects of this stigmatism claiming “males might not report their problems”. Hindley furthered her points using specific statistical figures, pointing out that 1 in 4 people within the average student’s age range suffer from depression or related mental problems.

The most debated topic concerned issues of wellbeing surrounding the average student’s alcohol consumption. A few controversial ideas were explored, with Byrne, continuing on from the previous night’s comments, emphasised his concerns regarding Karni and his aims to make it “less acceptable to drink so much”. Tressler took a similar approach, acknowledging the controversial implications of her self-proposed non-alcoholic Ocean night, claiming “Uni is not just about drinking”, while Haligah mentioned his plan to arrange an alcohol awareness week were he to be elected. Whilst Hindley did not propose a policy which combated this issue, she made reference to her personal experience to show the benefits of an alcohol free week. She explained that being on the Week One Committee was “possibly the best two weeks of my life”, even though during that week she was not allowed to drink.

The candidates were all slightly thrown when Michael Etienne, the current BME officer, asked “what is the difference, if any, between trying to ensure equality and political correctness?” Whilst they managed to formulate a response, the answers were vague and slightly off topic, with Byrne claiming that “everyday is straight pride day basically… it is not possible to find the difference generally”. The candidates did make references to the correlation of equality and treatment of people, yet no one distinguished this from the need to be politically correct to avoid offending people.

After an exhausting few days the candidates all showed their dedication, motivation and determination, by striving through the hour and making sure that they were able to integrate their policies into their answers. Shortly after the Question Time some of the candidates were seen outside Hallward Library with their banners up and campaign team out determined to continue promoting themselves.

Priyal Dadhania

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5 Comments on this post.
  • Rob
    3 March 2011 at 21:12
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    I think making sure societies and sports teams dont ‘force’ people into drinking or into initiations is a fair point. While people may not physically force someone to consume large amounts of alcohol or debase themselves on an initiation, the culture and pressure to conform is unfortunately a large factor which can exclude. However I do not see why successive welfare officers bang on about students consumption. Sure, provide services on which students who want to deal with drinking or whatever can acess, but why are they so interested in how much students drink. Whats it got to do with you, shouldnt they be allowed to drink what they want? Why should you be interested in behavioural politics to an extent where you wish to ‘nudge’ behaviour in the direction of stopping ‘drinking culture’. What is wrong with being drunk?

  • Phil Whitehead
    3 March 2011 at 22:25
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    Can I suggest that the difference between equality and political correctness is highlighted by the question of “affirmitive action” or “positive discrimination”. I would be very interested to know what the candidates think, for example, on the Coaltion government’s proposals for universities to have admission quotas for ethnic minority students.

  • Rob
    3 March 2011 at 22:45
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    I wonder if anyone will mention the number one factor in equality that links all other oppressions and such, CLASS. Don’t hear much about poor people or poor students.

    • Hannah
      4 March 2011 at 13:10
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      Probably they won’t, Rob, because that particular brand of paleo-Marxist social analysis went out of fashion about the same time as crinoline skirts.

      • Rob
        4 March 2011 at 14:21
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        Yes fashion has many crimes to account for, especially the relegation of class as the main dimension for discussing the world has servely undermined any real chance of eqaulity. I do not believe you can do a serious job for equality if there is no class dimension informing analysis of homophobia, sexism, racism and so on.

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