YUSU bans Women’s Officer candidates from campaigning

Mark Pickard and Peter Saul, candidates for YUSU Women’s Officer, have been banned from campaigning until 12th March

Mark Pickard and Peter Saul, candidates for YUSU Women’s Officer, have been banned from campaigning until 12 March, after making “derogatory and disgusting” comments about women in their election speech at last night’s YUSU hustings.

According to Lewis Bretts, YUSU Democracy and Services Officer, the ban has been put in place in response to the large number of complaints received following the candidates’ speech.

Pickard and Saul, who self-defined as women in order to run for the position, were heckled as they made their election promises at last night’s hustings. They pledged to ban “fat women” on campus, and open career opportunities as “housewives” for York’s female graduates.

Janey Stephenson, a genuine candidate for the position of Women’s Officer, stated: “By making sexist comments they have proved exactly why we need a Women’s Officer on campus.”

When asked to explain the purpose of their campaign, Saul today commented: “We are quite clearly joke candidates. The position of Women’s Officer is ridiculous.”

Saul continued: “We might have more sympathy in such a Committee if we were in a country where women’s rights were blatantly discriminated against.”

Although Saul accepted that women had been discriminated against in the past, he believes that in the modern world, there is no inequality between men and women.

When asked to explain the pay gap between men and women, in the context of his arguments, he stated: “Obviously very few women will get highly paid jobs. Men get the highest paid jobs because women always want to take time out to have children.”

Eleanor Hughes, a third-year student who is embarking on a degree in Women’s Studies in September, commented: “This shows a narrow, under-informed and under-researched view of gender equality. Even taking into account the fact that many women take time off to have children, there are still glaring disparities in pay because of discrimination against women, along with other factors.”

Saul continued to say that if gender inequality really is still prevalent, it is “not the University’s place to address this.”

Hughes stated: “Discrimination even takes place here at the University. To understand this, you simply have to look at the pay the porters (a predominantly male group) receive in comparison to the pay the cleaners (a predominantly female group) receive.”

Saul, who claims to be an advocate of free speech, said: “I am happy for anybody to say anything they think as long as they’re not advocating violence.” Many have interpreted Saul and Pickard’s comments at yesterday’s hustings as an incitement of hatred against women.

Hughes has branded the way Saul and Pickard have gone about expressing their views as “derogatory and disgusting.”

Stephens, Candidate for Women’s Officer, said she was “glad YUSU is taking the complaints against Saul and Pickard seriously. This proves their policies are not funny in anyway and are genuinely offensive.”

73 comments

  1. This was fairly obviously a joke campaign, and anybody who was offended must have a really bad sense of humour! Just another example of YUSU apparently loving free speech until it goes against what they consider the ‘acceptable vewpoint’ and then its banned.

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  2. This is a lot more neutral than I thought it would be. However I do feel I have been misquoted. I don’t agree that “women always want to take time out to have children”.

    Also “egress”? I’ve never used the word egress in my life.

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  3. 3 Mar ’10 at 11:40 pm

    A. Politician

    What specific rules have they broken? Surely for a ban to take place it has to be justified as a breach of official rules? Yes, what was said was stupid, but there’s no rule against stupid campaigns.

    “Many have interpreted Saul and Pickard’s comments at yesterday’s hustings as an incitement of hatred against women”. To go down the reactionary route, aiming a cannon at the VCs house could be seen as inciting violence. Clearly there’s no malice here, its not a serious candidacy.

    Lets show our feelings at the (virtual) ballot box, not by banning things. I thought YUSU was supposed to be democratic? How can Lewis be called a DEMOCRACY and services officer if he’s banning candidates from outlining their policies? Is he even the returning officer?

    People with anti-YUSU / pro-free speech views might even be more inclined to vote now, whereas at the hustings these candidates looked totally humiliated and out of the race before it’d really began.

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  4. “anybody who was offended must have a really bad sense of humour” Anybody who laughed must have an even worse sense of humour.

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  5. 3 Mar ’10 at 11:59 pm

    welfare concerned

    To be honest, A. Politician, I think the idea of voting in Saul and Prickard as Women’s Officers in the name of free speech is incredibly backwards. Women’s committee is a place where women can hope to rectify any cases of unfair treatment or disregard for their rights on campus as well as prepare for this inevitable difficulty in the working world. Saul and Picard have no concern for the importance of this committee and position both with regards to welfare and on a campus-wide level. However, you go ahead, A. Politician, you show YUSU by voting in candidates that are known for their repellent quasi-fascist views. That’ll make YUSU realise that objecting to candidates on the basis of their public portrayal of active sexual harrassment of women is just plain wrong, because, gosh, that’s the greater wrong here!

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  6. 4 Mar ’10 at 12:18 am

    Ernie Goldberg

    I actually LOL’d when I read this article, and thought Saul and Pickard were being mischievously hilarious. Then I watched the video of the hustings and it was just pathetic. All the good lines that this article highlights (“They pledged to ban “fat women” on campus, and open career opportunities as “housewives” for York’s female graduates.”) were buried as these two dimwits realised they were way over their heads and what they thought was going to be a bit of a laugh turned out to be a really uncomfortable ten minutes or so.

    Their responses weren’t funny, weren’t clever and worst of all they weren’t illuminating. There is a case to take umbrage with the existence of this women-specific position, but they made it so ineffectually – and just looked so uncomfortable throughout – that it was entirely lost. Janey and Charlotte dealt with the situation very competently and came out of the hustings very impressively.

    I’m not interested in student politics at all but now I definitely am going to vote for Janey and Charlotte just to make sure these fools, who succeeded both in being completely humourless and actually quite offensive, get the crushing defeat they deserve. Janey in particular seemed an impressive candidate and even though I don’t care a dime for the position of Woman’s Officer they didn’t deserve the blatant disrespect that Saul and Prickard directed at them

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  7. There’s no denying that Pickard and Saul’s campaign is intentionally offensive, humourless and completely devoid of substance.

    However, I still take issue with absurd statements such as that the university’s porters get higher salaries than the cleaners because the former group is predominantly male. If you are to accuse this institution of being discriminative, please do bother to back up your claims with some solid evidence and not feeble insinuations.

    Then again, this statement is coming from a person who is about to a start a degree on Women’s Studies, an academic field where it is acceptable to claim that Newton’s ‘Principia’ is a “rape manual” and that Einstein’s theory of relativity is gender-biased because it “privileges the speed of light over other speeds.”

    I think it’s really a shame that public debate on such serious issues is being overran by sexist bigotry on the one hand and ideological indoctrination on the other.

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  8. 4 Mar ’10 at 12:48 am

    A. Politician

    @Welfare concerned:| I have in no way expressed support for the 2 candidates in question. I believe their candidacy has raised some important questions about how ‘self-definition’ can be exploited and about a role for a male welfare committee, but I certainly have not said I intend to vote for them.

    My comments above were merely a prediction of how people may respond to both the idea of men running for a women-only role and also to the ban.

    I do however wish to express concern at any attack on democracy. All members of the union have the right to stand for office on any platform we see fit. No doubt some of our views will offend or agitate others. Some LGBT candidates will certainly hold views seen as offensive to some religious denominations. Some candidates for Environment and Ethics will be dismissed by climate sceptics as wasting union money. Some candidates for college events positions will offend people by throwing a party celebrating pornography.

    Candidates should be banned from campaigning if they break an official written code of conduct, or of course if they break the law. Since neither of these breaches have occurred I believe free speech has been curtailed.

    The electorate has a right to hear from all candidates, and to know precisely what they’re voting for. Eg:, people might vote for the men without actually knowing they say ‘death to men’ etc… because they’ve not been allowed to campaign and get that (albeit ridiculous) message across.

    I still predict a huge win for the sensible candidates, but we know that York loves a joke candidate, and if people can’t see the awful policies, they might vote for them as a joke, without realising they’ve voted for sexism.

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  9. It’s highly likely their campaign would have offended not just a roomful of people but a campusful, if they’d not been banned.

    Surely if there are so many people complaining it makes sense for YUSU to listen to that, even if it’s not written in the rules.

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  10. The ideological indoctrination that women should be treated fairly?

    I think that comments of “women’s committee should be gender equality committee” or “who needs a women’s officer?” are at least understandable but calling equality ‘indoctrination’ is pushing it pretty far. Women’s Committee does some fantastic work and is extremely active in promoting various welfare issues on campus so try not to be pathetic.

    In terms of the candidates themselves; claiming “all men are rapists” or “fat girls should be banned from campus” or that “banning women drivers would improve welfare” are all sexist comments that are directly against the YUSU and University equality schemes. They’re the kind of comments that the University could consider grounds for expulsion if they so wished – so not banning the candidates is quite lenient on Lewis’ part!

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  11. “The ideological indoctrination that women should be treated fairly?”

    No Jason, that’s not ideological indoctrination, that’s a moral value. A moral absolute even for most of us.

    On the other hand, only indoctrinated ideologues would be prepared to take seriously the kind of gems that I’ve mentioned just above – which are actual quotes from actual ‘academics’ in the field.

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  12. I’d like to quickly say that the candidates were given a good quality chunk of ‘free speech’, this ‘free speech’ has also been lovingly recorded by YSTV so the rest of us students can ‘freely’ access it. Without being too biased or casting too many aspersions on the issue of ‘self definition’ I think there claim is undermined by Paul’s chosen definition of ‘male’ on facebook and is surely enough evidence to technically cause a breach of elections rules? I don’t feel that freedom of speech is being massively curtailed by not letting them campaign, I feel they have sufficiently breeched elections rules and by virtue of said rules lose their right to campaign. Even within a liberal society we recognise limits to freedom of speech, but it is freedom of candidacy they have lost here. They can still say and do what they want and I’m sure if they are sincere a large portion of society will be sufficiently sickened in the process.

    I don’t think either individual has sufficiently researched the role WomCom play in the union liberation committees and their campaign to belittle it, rather than constructively campaign for their right to some sort of ManCom is a sign that their notions of equality and freedom are founded in misguided beliefs.

    I’m glad this article remained neutral, they might well be misunderstood and otherwise good individuals and I don’t think we need to get too personal and judge them as necessarily bad people for this. But, I am proud to say that I heckled them, within the scope of the campaign any point they attempted to make was lost in pompus self-piety and whilst I am all for joke candidates (David was brilliant) I think the joke here was the candidates and not the candidacy.

    If this is any indication of the sort of people they are society will punish them in due course, but if this is an elections stunt gone wrong, their being banned from elections is a sufficient response.

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  13. George,

    I might be wrong but I’m guessing you’re referring to the Sokal affair or else drawing from a similar but anecdotal source? Either way, you seem to be annoyed at the way soft humanities reappropriate terminology from the hard sciences without due understanding of the concepts, projecting onto them ethical dimensions that simply don’t hold water. Problem is, physics isn’t hermetically sealed from culture. Say, quantum mechanics. Loads of people know the term, far fewer understand the concept. But it enters the public sphere, gets used by the media and so acrues metaphoric weight. Scholars in the humanities are attentive to these mythologies in a way that those within the sciences aren’t.

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  14. Did anyone miss the most interesting part of the article?

    “Hughes stated: “Discrimination even takes place here at the University. To understand this, you simply have to look at the pay the porters (a predominantly male group) receive in comparison to the pay the cleaners (a predominantly female group) receive.””

    How is that an example of Discrimination? They do different jobs, on different shifts (some are night shifts), requring different skills, THAT is why they get paid differently, NOT because one group is “predominantly male” and the other is “predominantly female”

    And i think that statement is why alot of people i know are skeptical about why we even need a Womens Officer.

    Skeptical that any discrimination (which is already illegal) is still widespread.

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  15. a) I agree with A Politician that really there is no need to ban them outright as they haven’t explicitly broken any rules. But I think many people would agree with me YUSU <3s to interfere as much as it possibly can. They have to justify their jobs afterall.

    b) On YUSU's overbearingness, maybe that is the point of their campaign that there isn't a need for women's officers. Not because women don't suffer, but because really, a dedicated welfare officer should be able to support ALL students. Maybe two welfare officers if you feel it's really necessary. Scrap the race equality officer too.

    c) on the responses, I think some people *cough*Hutchings*cough* look like they're taking it all a bit too seriously. "Society will punish them in due course" ?? Actually made me bang my head against my desk.

    d) oh also fwiw gender gap is complex and having done a fair chunk of reading around the subject it is neither simply 'women take time out' nor 'blatant systematic discrimination against women' as each side would like to argue. It goes deeper than that, and the true picture as with anything is likely somewhere between the two extremes, but a -reality- that must be addressed is that it is very much two ways, and people need to stop the whole 'acknowledge women have inequality issues, disregard men's inequality issues because women's are obviously worse' routine. With specific roles catered to helping only women (though in practice I'm sure women's officer actually does a whole lot more because they will realise there are lots of issues going on that affect lots of different people!) it furthers this 'indoctrination' as someone else put it. Why not just have position of welfare officer. x2 if workload is too much.

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  16. Freedom of speech much? Their comments may be offensive but they have a right to say them.

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  17. @ Student :) regarding point b.

    The point of the womens officer(s) and the race equality officer(s) are to engage with a smaller number of students who are directly affected/involved/engaged with the relevent issues be it gender or race. This way the welfare officer can commincate with a smaller number of people, yet hopefully help a wider number of students; not that a student couldn’t contact the welfare offerer directly if they wished. To remove these positions would ultimatly weaken the support given to students by YUSU. It is a system that Charlie Layland has in essence tried to copy in the course rep and faculty reps this year – to much praise by many.

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  18. “Many have interpreted Saul and Pickard’s comments at yesterday’s hustings as an incitement of hatred against women.”

    Well that’s just stupid. Paul and Saul were clearly not funny, but they only aimed to undermine the position of Women’s officer, not women in general.

    It is not sexist to suggest that a Women’s committee may have no use – after all there is no discrimination against women of campus (I’m not even bother commenting on the porters vs cleaners argument). From what I understand, all the Women’s committee does is promote welfare, but isn’t that the job of the Welfare Officer? Should we really have one representative for each possible social group?

    A.

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  19. @ Iain, if a Womens’ officer’s job is to “engage with… students who are directly affected with the.. issues of gender” then why is it a Womens’ Officer and not a gender equality officer? Afterall, we have Race Equality Officers, not Blacks’ Officers or Whites’ Officers.

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  20. I noticed the point has already been raised, but I’ll state it again.

    Peter Saul defines as MALE on Facebook. Surely if he was a male-to-female transsexual as he and Mark said at hustings, it would be listed as Female, or perhaps he would just not show the gender at all as Mark has done.

    This is a clear rule break, and means he is ineligible to stand, and so should be disqualified.

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  21. How many is a “large number of complaints”. I don’t endorse what Peter and Mark have said but I do wonder if there are not a “large number” who are more offended by YUSU using these measures

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  22. 4 Mar ’10 at 1:54 pm

    mark pickard

    As amusing as this debate remains in my absence I feel that some sort of clarification on mine and Peter’s part is necessary.

    Firstly the clever ones amongst the audience may have noticed we were being ironic. The fact that many did not, while a sad reflection on human intelligence, was unfortunately rather predictable.

    Secondly we believe there is effectively no discrimination on the basis of gender, race, or sexual orientation on campus today.

    Thirdly even if we accept that woman are discriminated against in wider society there is nothing a women’s officer at York University can do about it.

    With this in mind the position of women’s officer is a joke. Treating it as such is thus only appropriate.

    Potentially however the position itself is even more damaging than this. By its very existence it fosters a feeling of victimhood and separateness. This is not constructive for campus harmony.

    Finally we find the level of intolerance expressed by many members of YUSU quite disturbing. However much we disagree with the views of others we would not ban them from campaigning, describe their opinions as disgusting, or be so generally abusive.

    All good fun considering this is a pointless student election.

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  23. Or, He has not come out to family members about his self defininition as female for fear of discrimination, and as such puts Male on his facebook page so it cannot get reported back to or seen by them, or someone put male in a well thought out frape attack. Facebook can never be taken at face vaule, and as such it is flawed to assume anything on their is 100% true. The Issue of gender is a murky one and YUSU would be best to stay away from it unless the were 100% of the issues and complexitys envolved, which evidently they arnt as they have a womens committie rather than a gender equality one. Its basically the WI for people who oppose the WI

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  24. ok this is hardly relevant to the article, but given that I started it and that I need an excuse from work, I may as well continue.

    Adam, public understanding of physics is indeed not at all sealed from culture. Physics itself, however, is very much so.

    The ‘scholars’ that I quoted above do not seem to understand that – and I am afraid that they are not even the exception to the rule. I could cite a hundred more such absurdities if you want me to, all of which taken from supposedly established academic journals. The Sokal affair, telling as it may be, pales in comparison.

    The two quotes that I used, about Newton’s Principia being a “rape manual” and relativity being gender-biased, were taken from publications of Sandra Harding (The Science Question in Feminism, 1986) and Luce Irigaray (Parler n’est jamais neutre, 1987). Both are well known and reputable figures in this field, and their emotive psycho-babble is taken very seriously among certain self-congratulatory circles.

    Moving on, you say that scientific concepts “acrue metaphoric weight”, which is of course true – but then you argue that “scholars in the humanities are attentive to these mythologies in a way that those within the sciences aren’t.”

    I could not disagree more with that. Firstly, the above ideologues demonstrably have no understanding whatsoever of the concepts that they are supposed to be criticising. Quite frankly, the kind of people who are willing to argue that fluid mechanics has been understudied in comparison to solids because of the association of fluidity with feminity (Katherine Hayles, Gender Encoding in Fluid Mechanics, 1992), are not the kind of people whose analyses we can take seriously.

    More importantly, these academics come from a school of thought where rational discourse is shunned upon and viewed as a symbol of patriarchal repression. They are not even trying to prove their claims or be reasonable. In this field, reputation is not built on your ability to reason and provide evidence, but on your ability to make the most absurd (‘interesting’), unprovable claims.

    If this was all restricted to literary criticism and cultural studies, I would be prepared to find it a lot less objectionable. Given that it isn’t, it should be exposed and ridiculed at every opportunity. This is why I made my first comment; because somebody is now making a serious accusation against the university using the same type of evidence-free rhetoric.

    Finally Adam, you are right that there is a very interesting and very complex interaction between science and culture, an interaction whose importance I am not trying to diminish. The study of this interaction, however, should be left to those who actually know what they are talking about (regardless of their credentials), and not those believing that “science is a male rape of female nature” (Harding again).

    PS: Let me again clarify that opposing pseudo-intellectualism is not the same thing with opposing feminism; I would describe myself as a feminist in the sense that I strongly oppose all possible forms of gender discrimination. That, however, does not mean that I have to take every ideologue’s nonsense seriously.

    PPS: Dawkins’ take on the subject: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/824

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  25. Wrong. Just wrong.

    Everybody in that audience understood that you were being ironic pickard. This is the 11th best University in the country, credit us with some intelligence.

    The fact remains, however, that you crossed so many lines, took it way way to far, and grossly misjudged your audience. The actions of the two of you were beyond despicable. They were the equivalent of my running for racial equality officer and shouting out ‘death to whites’ at random intervals. Disgusting.

    Not only that, but you were incredibly offensive, not only to everyone in the room, but also to the two poor women that ran against you and had to stand there and watch you to belittling everything that they stood for. Which they did so remarkably to their credit.

    Worse than all of that, is that you ruined a serious issue for us all. There is serious grounds for the founding of a Mens Committee. Many other Universities have it, and it could be very important for touching on serious ‘man only’ issues, such as testicular cancer etc. But the actions of chauvinistic pigs like yourselves bring such bad publicity on the whole idea that it’s impossible to bring it up in serious discussion, with serious people, that care.

    As far as this being a “pointless student election” is concerned, I’m not convinced. Firstly student politics is incredibly important and, whether you realise it or not, student politicians are constantly helping you in ways you seem unable to understand. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if you needed the help of the democratically elected YUSU Welfare Officer pretty damn soon, considering the way you’re going!

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  26. This campaign completely undermines the hard work of the womens committee and also the LGBT committee. Ironically self defining as female? seriously? there are some people at this Uni for whom gender definement and confusion has been a serious issue, and undermining it as you have could be comparable to sexism, racism and other vile forms of discrimination.
    You are very childish and sounded absurd at hustings. syaing ‘all men are rapists’? do you know how offensive that actually is for people who have been raped or been falsely accused? You have clearly no experience of the real world, and no idea of how to be ‘ironic’.

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  27. 4 Mar ’10 at 3:04 pm

    To Mark Pickard

    1) “we believe there is effectively no discrimination on the basis of gender, race, or sexual orientation on campus today”

    THAT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE A WHITE UPPER CLASS STRAIGHT MALE.
    And I think you proved at Hustings that discrimination against gender is still alive on campus.

    2) “even if we accept that woman are discriminated against in wider society there is nothing a women’s officer at York University can do about it.”

    Yeah, because Womens’ Committee can’t attend NUS meetings that discuss national issues, protest on national marches, and sign Parliament petitions. Oh wait, they DO.

    3) “All good fun considering this is a pointless student election.”

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the ride Mark. Because your disgusting campaign has made you and your friend the least popular people on campus.

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  28. 4 Mar ’10 at 3:15 pm

    Dasher Mule Soul

    “I’m glad you’re enjoying the ride Mark. Because your disgusting campaign has made you and your friend the least popular people on campus.”

    The truth in one simple quote. Pickard got told.

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  29. Is the reply from Mark above even allowed? The article and the yusu note from Bretts states that no campaigning is allowed until the ban imposed ends. Surely the above could be read as saying “vote for us – we want to change the system and have an equality officer rather than a women’s officer/we disagree with having a women’s officer because it could be a divisive force.”

    Sadly for those who feel that changes should be made so that all discrimination, including against men, is tackled on campus through say looking at introducing a women’s officer will have to wait for another year because of the short sighted and threatening comments of said candidates this year.

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  30. Dear Ms. Pickard,

    As you’ve decided to bring sexual orientation into this I feel the following is relevant, it may or may not be appropriate to extrapolate it to the role of WomCom.

    Before I was at this university, doing a PhD, I’ve been a student at two other lower ranking universities doing a BA and MA, neither of them had large or active student unions, neither of them had effective LGBT representation. I felt very isolated at both, encountered regular discrimination by other students, and generally had a fairly miserable time. At this university the situation is different, and a lot of that is down to some brilliant past officers, large active LGBT groups, and effective campaigns. You are right that there is much less discrimination on campus than in wider society – I still regularly encounter discrimination there. Why, though, is this something to be reproachful about? Why does this mean something is WRONG? In my opinion, this means here we’ve got something RIGHT. It means that the committees are doing a good job, and are effective at what they do.

    I’ll give another example: I keep a flock of goats and sheep. Doing so involves regularly working with vets to ensure the health of the flock, it involves worming them, shearing and dagging, effectively using medication, and planning throughout the year to beat parasites and other problems. At the moment my flock is healthy, at this point I do not sit back and think that clearly the vets and all my work are a waste of time. I want to keep it that way, that takes care and attention.

    Best,
    Ed Crooks

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  31. I personally think that the two guys did a great job of showing up the pointless position of womens’ officer! DEATH TO MEN!

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  32. I’m surprised Mark and Peter haven’t replied on the comment piece by Akim

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  33. 4 Mar ’10 at 5:21 pm

    Meandry Hater

    Mark and Peter really should be ashamed of themselves. Not simply for turning a set of YUSU elections occupied by a vast majority of candidates who do genuinely want to do some good into one big joke. Not simply for supposedly “ironically” voicing out-dated, narrow-minded opinions for a laugh. But for giving enough fuel to very misguided meandrist on campus so that they can spew their bile about combating prejudice that doesn’t exist apart from in a very small minority for the next year, thus preventing the Women’s Committee from going about the business of actually doing some good.

    Given some of the detestable statements made publicly by the pair at Hustings, I would also like to know what sanctions, if any, the University will be taking against both Mark Pickard and Peter Saul?

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  34. They have already been banned from campaiging (which nouse is effectively doing for them – any publicity is good publicity) The more people cry “outragous” the more their names will be at the forefront, effectively overshadowing “the other two” candidates!

    As for calling for the University to take action, jesus wept, do you honestly not have anything better to do with your time…perhaps like a degree or something??!?! What silly nonsense!

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  35. 4 Mar ’10 at 5:48 pm

    Mark Pickard

    I’m in the library computer room. Please come vomit on me to show your appreciation.

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  36. “I personally think that the two guys did a great job”

    That’s because you ‘personally’ brown-nose Pickard and Saul. Why don’t you make like a rat and leave the sinking ship?

    Comment edited by a moderator

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  37. “As for calling for the University to take action, jesus wept”

    How hyperbolic to bring religion into this. But if you’re going to go there, I think Jesus would be up for reprimanding women-haters.

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  38. Jesus is indeed weeping over the pathetic nature of this whole spectacle. People need to lighten up. The women’s committee does nothing that could not be done by, as has been mentioned above, an expanded remit for the welfare officer. Deliberately setting apart one half of the entire campus population by giving them extra special representation is insulting (to both men and women) segregationist, unnecessary (on campus, where there is no discrimination against women), and just wrong.

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  39. Some reasons why we still need a Womens’ Committee:
    (if you want to know my sources please google these stats)

    1) Domestic violence is still an issue. 2 women are killed by their partners or ex-partners every week in the UK.

    2) Violence against women is viewed as normal by our society:
    A 2010 study revealed 80% of kids believe it is ok for a man to hit a women if his dinner is late.

    And 1 in 7 adults believe it is acceptable in some circumstances for a man to hit his wife or girlfriend if she is dressed in “sexy or revealing clothes in public” or if she is “nagging or moaning” (2009 study).

    3) Underrepresentation: despite being the majority gender, women hold only 19% of positions in Parliament.

    3) Gender pay gap: In the same full time job, a women earns 17% less than a man on average (and 40% less in part time jobs). In financial sectors this rises to 55%.

    As for the accusation of segregation – men are welcome to Womens’ Committee meetings and many of the campaigns have welfare of men in mind too.

    I believe we should follow Manchester’s lead and have a Men’s society for male issues.

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  40. 4 Mar ’10 at 7:55 pm

    A. Catsambas

    To Estie: each and every one of your points is flawed:

    1) Domestic violence is an issue in society. How exactly does a women’s committee help? Unless of course you perceive such a problem in a university environment.

    2) I only found one link to that study, from a feminist website! Please do provide some more evidence. Besides, the study was conducted with only 89 children in Glasgow – hardly representative of wider society. Also, no information was provided as to the background of these children etc.

    3) This can be attributed to lagging: in other words, there is no longer wide discrimination in society, but effects like this one are still observed.

    4) (cannot count well?) – Again, this can be attributed to lagging, which is also supported by the fact that the pay gap is narrowing. In addition, the pay gap in some industries can be explained by different attributes between women and men. In finance for example, men have been shown to be more risk-seeking, thus reaping higher rewards in good times (conversely, of course, they cause crises). Still, the fact that they are more risky entails that they get paid more.

    Even ignoring all of this, how does the women’s committee help addressing this issues? By raising awareness, you’ll claim? That hardly matters. Let me explain: to me, it does not matter if I know that there is a pay gap if I am to select a candidate for a job. What matters is that I do not discriminate against either men or women – I just pick the best one. So how will it help, if the Women’s committee runs a campaign to show that there is a pay gap? Unless of course you are suggesting positive discrimination…

    A.

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  41. 4 Mar ’10 at 8:38 pm

    To A. Catsambas

    At least Womens’ Committee try to do something constructive about issues in society, instead of scraping the barrel to argue against nationally recognised issues.

    Make your own men’s society, don’t attack a good cause.

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  42. 4 Mar ’10 at 9:08 pm

    Check your facts

    “[the pay gap] can be attributed to lagging, which is also supported by the fact that the pay gap is narrowing”

    As of 2008 the pay gap is widening. how do you attribute that to ‘lagging’ Catsambas?

    The womens’ committee run a campaign to raise awareness that there is still a pay gap, because many people don’t realise that there still is one. Women especially need to be aware of the issue especially, so they can recognise if they are suffering from discrimination of this type in future.

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  43. Mark – I believe a few years ago you ran for local government. I hope those political ambitions were not part of a wider career plan – after this episode I think you might struggle to be taken seriously within any political arena.

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  44. “The women’s committee does nothing that could not be done by, as has been mentioned above, an expanded remit for the welfare officer.”

    The Academic and Welfare position was recently split into separate Academic and Welfare positions because having one sabb officer was not sufficient to deal with the sort of issues raised in these two highly diverse specialist areas. Whilst I understand that ‘Academic officer’ is a larger role, I think it is simply farcical to claim that the welfare officer could simply absorb the good work that WomCom do.

    As I have mentioned elsewhere, their work on campaigns such as reclaim the night and love your body as well as tell, the living library and clothes swap have been some of the most imaginative and engaging events on campus this year. Personally I think that ideological arguments for the existence of WomCom can be nullified by simply looking at what they have actually done. I feel they make this campus a better place to be and I think that it would be a travesty to lose the role, particularly when Charlotte and Janey will clearly make very good officers if they are elected.

    Liberations campaigns are difficult and I can understand why many want to turn a blind eye to them, but saying that WomCom is “segregationist, unnecessary and just wrong.” is only easy when you don’t engage with it yourself, personally I have found them to be the exact inverse. As much as I understand what A. Catsambas says about lagging, I still think that there are women’s issues that should be raised and campaigned for to speed up any lag, it still doesn’t make it right.

    Finally on a more personal note to “Student :-)” I think it’s worth noting that whilst I have treated this seriously because I think they have offended a lot of people my comment actually says that we need to view this within the remits of the elections only and not extend this to be a necessarily moral judgement. I don’t know the guys and I understand that they were probably trying to be “funny”, but the sad fact is they failed. I said that society will “punish them” in due course IF it is a reflection of their actual personalities, as in it’s not up to us to let this stupid stunt ruin their lives, but if they are as blatantly ignorant as they came across I’m sure other people will pick up on it and they will suffer as a result. I am very hopeful that it isn’t the case that society will have to “punish them” but please don’t hit your head against a desk for what is actually a fairly fair, but admittedly serious response. I do have a sense of humour, it just needs something funny to actually set it off, I half saw where they wanted to be going, I just don’t think they even knew how to get there. If you honestly think what they did was the best possible response I’m slightly disturbed and if you think my response was disproportionate sorry, but I think I actually tried to keep the issue in focus.

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  45. “The womens’ committee run a campaign to raise awareness that there is still a pay gap, because many people don’t realise that there still is one. Women especially need to be aware of the issue especially, so they can recognise if they are suffering from discrimination of this type in future.”

    How does this help? If a woman sees that she receives less money than the guy sitting next to her in the office, she should realise she’s being discriminated against. She does not need a whole campaign to get the point. Simply raising awareness does not make a difference. As I said, are you more likely to be fairer to women because you know there is a pay gap? Of course not, you are either fair or not.

    Oh, and on my facts: http://www.tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-14435-f0.pdf
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8044720.stm

    Have a read! Also have a look at this: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/davidgreen/9666597/The_gender_pay_gap_does_not_exist/

    It claims that what causes the pay gap is not sex, but children – thus being female is not what causes discrimination.

    “At least Womens’ Committee try to do something constructive about issues in society”

    And what would that be? In fact, one of the times the Women’s committee gained a great deal of publicity was when they tried to prevent men from attending their meetings (citing the fact that most college chairs were male as a sign of discrimination)! Hardly constructive.

    A.

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  46. Yo Aris,

    I’m thinking that siding with Mark and Peter isn’t going to be good for your street cred.

    Also using the Telegraph as a source of factual information is probably going to be a mistake.

    Word.

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  47. “In fact, one of the times the Women’s committee gained a great deal of publicity was when they tried to prevent men from attending their meetings”

    The exact opposite happened. A couple of years ago, Laura Payne (Women’s officer at the time) submitted a UGM that intended to allow men to attend their meetings; the campaign’s motto was “because it shouldn’t matter what’s in your pants.”

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  48. Aris.

    As soon as there is any kind of discrimination in ‘real life’, it means it can be dealt with in one way or another at university.

    If people think that women are less intelligent, less capable, just for housework or children etc than now’s the best time to show them counterexamples (so was school, but a lot less *we* can do about that now). Yes, there’s less people now who believe things like that, but they’re still around.

    Yes, most people know that it’s illegal to discriminate. However, liberation campaigns also show that (in addition to the legal problem), society does not accept this anymore either, and that it is actually irrational to have these views. “Let me explain: to me, it does not matter if I know that there is a pay gap if I am to select a candidate for a job.” Sure, but you knowing that discrimination is irrational doesn’t mean that everyone’s realised this already.

    There is a welfare officer, who encompasses everyone’s welfare. Below him in the hierarchy, there’s Women’s, LGBT, Racial Equality and Disability. None of these committees get paid. Yes, they have a budget, but this is all part of the welfare budget. Just see these as issues where the law has evolved, but many people’s opinions haven’t. It will improve their welfare now and long term if people don’t see them ‘differently’ or at least realise that society doesn’t accept these views anymore.

    A. as well

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  49. “Sure, but you knowing that discrimination is irrational doesn’t mean that everyone’s realised this already.”

    Fair point, but are there such people in University? I’ll admit conceit if you can find any who seriously hold such views at this university.

    George, Laura campaigned for men to be included, but you seem to forget her opposition, a most irrational campaign which tried to exclude men completely. How was that promoting equality? In general, a women’s committee seems to promote segregation more than equality – I don’t see why you have to be a woman to campaign against gender inequality.

    And Jason, I am not siding with Mark and Peter, in that I also thought that their speech was distasteful. All I’m saying is that labeling them as bigots and women haters is going too far. As Achim said in another article, they were just being idiots. It is silly to get offended like some people have.

    Also, you may not have realised this Jason, but having good ‘street cred’ is not what matters to me – I speak my mind, and that’s all. If people disagree with my arguments, let them challenge me on them, not on grounds of on whose side I am. I am not going to avoid stating my case out of fear of looking bad. I think this is honesty.

    A.

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  50. Estie:

    2 women are killed by their partners or ex partners each week while 1 man is killed by his partner or ex partner each week. Men make up 50% of the victims of domestic violence and 1/3 of the fatalities from domestic violence. Also the rates of domestic violence in homosexual relationships are similar to the rates in heterosexual relationships. How can domestic violence therefore only be the responsibility of the womens comittee??

    Also If women are underrepresented as MP’s or in boardrooms this may be due to age rather than gender. The average age of an MP is 50.6 years old. Being an MP is usually the peak of a political career. These MP’s started their political career at a time when fewer women went into politics than they do now and many of the women who started then would have dropped out of politics along the way to have families. Over time as more women work their way up to being an MP then the number of female MP’s will increase accordingly but this takes time.
    This is a similar reason to the lack of women on boards of directors as the average age of a person on a board of directors is usually over 60 so the effect may be more pronounced.

    In the financial sector pay is usually linked to profit so the employee who makes more profit for the company will usually get paid more and get larger bonuses. As men are generally more competitive and risk taking, they are more likely to make more profit for the company hence
    get paid more.

    A.Catsambas:
    “If a woman sees that she receives less money than the guy sitting next to her in the office, she should realise she’s being discriminated against. ”
    Many companies have regulations which prohibit the disclosure of salaries to work colleagues so the person will not see what their colleagues are being paid. This could be used to hide discrimination in some companies yet could also hide evidence which would prove that no such discrimination exists. It would probably be better if the per hour salaries were disclosed to everyone.

    To those calling for a men’s comittee this is an idea which several friends of mine have been considering for a while. However the men’s comittee at the University of Manchester recieved such a hostile response from, among others, the NUS women’s officer that they decided not to even bother applying to start one here at York.

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  51. I don’t care that much, but think it would save everyone’s time if they just renamed it to gender equality and continued doing exactly the same as whatever they’re doing now.

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  52. 5 Mar ’10 at 1:34 pm

    Bemused Onlooker

    I’m in agreement with A Man. It may help a lot to rename the position Gender Equality Officer in order to stop some of the ultimately fruitless arguments that happened last year and are happening again this year.

    One problem with going down that route is that a Gender Equality Officer, as opposed to a Women’s Officer, would arguably be responsible for all transgender students as well, and the lines could become very blurred where an LGBT Officer’s remit ends and a Gender Equality Officer’s remit begins concerning those students, and it could ultimately be those students who would suffer from such a name change.

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  53. “Laura campaigned for men to be included, but you seem to forget her opposition, a most irrational campaign which tried to exclude men completely.”

    That’s true, but her opposition lost. You can’t blame the committee (which started this campaign in the first place) for the beliefs of an opposing group of old-school angst-laden man-hating pseudofeminist hypocrites.

    Finally, I do think there’s a serious discussion to have about the prospect of a Gender Equality committee. In my opinion, for all it’s worth, this could be more inclusive, far less controversial and generally even more productive than the current committee.

    However, this is clearly not the way to start such a discussion.

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  54. 5 Mar ’10 at 2:16 pm

    A Heterosexual Man

    Well both groups could just agree to keep doing the same as whatever they do now…

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  55. 5 Mar ’10 at 2:48 pm

    The worst thing..

    Surely one of the worst, and most unnoticed, things about this whole debacle is that it has brought serial boring commenter Aris Catsambas back to our screens. And things were just starting to stop being so monotonous!

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  56. 5 Mar ’10 at 3:11 pm

    A. Catsambas

    And along with me, the cowardly, boring and non-contributing-to-the-discussion-preferring-personal-attacks anonymous commenters.
    A.

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  57. You can’t “self-define” for the purposes of a campaign. Self-definition is inherent – it is what you feel you are & what you consider yourself to be. Your self-definition is not something anyone else can check up on, but neither is it something you change back and forth to make a political point. You can’t change your self-definition to female for an election campaign, but you can declare your self-definition to be female for the purposes of an election campaign. Of course, the “self” in “self-definition” means nobody can really impose an objective test to stop you doing so.

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  58. “Many have interpreted Saul and Pickard’s comments at yesterday’s hustings as an incitement of hatred against women.”

    Whoever interpreted it in that way deserves to be hated themselves.

    It’s obviously a joke, and it’s pretty amusing. Why is everyone so serious? It’s student politics, it’s all meaningless.

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  59. Personally, I actually found it quite amusing. And I think everyone is missing the point. Saul and Pickard came up with ridiculous policies to hilight the ridiculous nature of a role aimed at reducing gender inequality which is only open to one gender. They clearly don’t ACTUALLY believe in banning fat people from campus etc. They were just trying to make a point in an amusing way, fair enough really. I think the reaction has been far too extreme and am surprised at the amount of people who seem to fail to understand irony.

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  60. I think that you blatantly weren’t there, Katie. If you were, you’d agree with the many other people who were expecting some amusing irony and found some unnecessary bigotry.

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  61. Katie, it is open to people from both genders, I’ve previously attended, it’s name is Women’s Committee, because it focuses on issues of Female Liberation within gender equality. Only people who self-define as women can run, which is currently true of all liberation committees (LGBT, Racial Equality and Disability) although there is a current UGM to remove this for Disability Officer. Admittedly the decision to open it up to men was only passed sometime last year, but that does not remove the fact that it does not fully exclude men.

    I don’t think anyone is necessarily debating the idea that they were trying to be funny, people were insulted for the most part because they failed to deliver any point at all which made it painful and cringe-worthy. The frequent reciting for the same trite statement of “death to men” and “funny” policies that failed to deliver any sort of point just made the whole thing unfortunately unbearable.

    Dave Hansen was a quality joke candidate who proved at the presidential debate that he had some respect for the limits of the joke, I just think the persistence of Pickard and Saul to go down with their ship was not admirable, they failed to engage with the real issue of why they were running when it started to fail and simply became unwanted company and the entire lecture theatre seemed pretty unanimous on that.

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  62. 6 Mar ’10 at 4:54 pm

    concerned for katie

    did you realise that some of the “jokes” included banning all female drivers and making women housewives? as well as calling all men rapists and saying all men should die?

    maybe you should watch the video before you side with them: http://ystv.york.ac.uk/watch/Election-Night/2010/Hustings-2010/Womens-Officers/Candidate-Questions/

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  63. Jesus says: live and let live. Humour is in the eye of the beholder. No one however, has the right to deny Saul and Pickard their democratic right to campaign. YUSU is not democratic.

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  64. Exactly – either ban them from elections entirely or take no action at all. Where’s the logic in leaving them on the ballot but not letting them campaign? What’s the message? Selective democracy FTW?

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  65. 6 Mar ’10 at 9:11 pm

    Johnny Electioneering

    Much as I hate to disagree with Jesus, yes, someone does have the right to deny Saul and Pickard their right to campaign in YUSU elections. YUSU does.

    YUSU has strict rules on equal opportunity and offensive messages from a YUSU forum. By signing up to run in the elections, Saul and Pickard agreed to these. Then they broke them. YUSU have the right to not allow them to campaign for a YUSU position with these messages.

    To allow them to continue would contravene active YUSU policy and its constitution. With the ban, Bretts has allowed students to vote for them, giving them the choice should they wish, but is ensuring that no further offence and breaking of YUSU rules occurs.

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  66. 7 Mar ’10 at 12:59 am

    a. catsambas, have a little think please

    Good to know that the real problem was not being female but CHILDREN. The paygap seems like a figment of my crazy feminist imagination now, thank you catsambas for showing me the light!

    Silly me that I didn’t associate the two. Oh wait, because as a woman bears the children it is assumed by all and sundry that she will be the primary care giver, despite the fact that a man had an equal role in the creation of that child, and despite any career aspirations the woman may have. Because of the biological imperative for the woman to carry and then give birth she is put through the ringer emotionally and physically, then she is either expected to become a housewife, or to return to work where she will be punished for having had a child with a severe cut in salary, no lee way for more flexible hours and most likely, the loss of the possibility of promotion etc. Does the father have the same kind of pressure of responsibility in this respect? Of course not.
    This is unfair to both men and women, if both roles were considered equal then there would be the possibility of either a man or a woman leaving full time work to raise their children which would redress the pay balance and allow men to be proper fathers instead of pushing them into the same reductive gender stereotype of distant father/breadwinner.

    Sorry, catsambas, but the assumption that the reasons for the paygap are simple and devoid of gender prejudice, on either side, is incredibly naive, and insulting to people who have suffered because of their chromosomes or because they happened to have had a child.

    Comment edited by a moderator

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  67. 8 Mar ’10 at 10:04 pm

    55% financial pay gap

    Catsambas – you explain away the 55% pay gap in financial sectors with this:

    “men have been shown to be more risk-seeking”

    So i suppose you wouldn’t be against a 55% increase in pay for women in caring professions such as teaching, nursing and social work. After all, we all know women will get better results, as they have been shown to be more emotionally intuitive.

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  68. 8 Mar ’10 at 11:09 pm

    Sir Alan Sugar

    The financial sector is more important than social work therefore those working in the latter should be paid less. Men have more sense than women and so choose to work more in finance as women have loads of time off to have babies and what-not. That said, Saul and Pickard are horrendously sexist. Hypocrisy thy name is …

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  69. 9 Mar ’10 at 6:27 pm

    Sheffield University Peter Saul Appreciation Society

    Our elections which took place last week included cheating and dirty, negative campaigns. There was a distinct lack of humour and novelty value for what are essentially joke positions. You Yorkies should be thankful that you are blessed with the surreal comedy genius of Peter Saul.

    “Many have interpreted Saul and Pickard’s comments at yesterday’s hustings as an incitement of hatred against women.” Laughable comment. It sounds unlikely that anyone has interpreted the comments in that way. If they have they are idiots. If not then we have a very bad example of biased and irresponsible journalism.

    Anyway, thanks for a laugh, I’ll be forwarding this around my department. Decent website this. Good interactivity with the comments box.

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  70. I am a woman, I saw their performance and I wasn’t offended. It reminded me of a batman villain trying to burst in and cause a bit of a ruckus but then spoiling it by tripping over his cape and knocking himself out. I can’t get bothered about ineffectual spastics. I don’t understand how anyone can. I’d rather have a cup of tea or mate like a fat squisy bunny with a loved one or… anything really…than get upset about student politics…Anyway, just saying, I’ll get my coat.

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  71. To the guy at Sheffield, Sheffield’s elections were mostly clean, with 2 noticeable exceptions (Josh’s “cheating” and the “iWorried about iBen” saga) – as for humour, what about the guy who wants to knock down the Arts Tower and buy a rhino? :P

    >> Decent website this. Good interactivity with the comments box.

    Ta, although Forge Media don’t think so and won’t let me get involved with Forgetoday.com…

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  72. >> Ta, although Forge Media don’t think so and won’t let me get involved with Forgetoday.com…

    Ha! Chris’ plans for world domination through taking over the student press’ websites has been brought to an abrupt halt :P

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  73. Part of a Guardian, part of an NUS and part of a YUMA, I just want more awards, dammit!

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