Feminist Societies from universities across the country, in addition to a number of political societies, have spoken out in support of FemSoc after its application for ratification was rejected by YUSU.
Feminist Societies from UEA, Bristol, LSE, Royal Holloway and Essex have all spoken out against YUSU’s decision.
Co-President of Bristol University Feminist Society, Laura Ho, expressed fear that FemSoc’s “rejection is a result of a misunderstanding of feminism.”
Sally Bonsall, a member of LSE’s feminist society, said: “We acknowledge that YUSU has limited resources, but we also acknowledge that if members within that union express the desire for a space to discuss and promote feminist issues, then it is vital that YUSU Feminist Society is ratified.”
FemSoc also counts the support of political societies on campus, including the UoY Green Party and UoY Socialist Society. The campaigning website ‘National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts’ and ‘National Student’ website have also spoken against YUSU’s decision.
In a statement the University of York Socialist Society said: “The University of York Student Socialist Society are hugely disappointed by YUSU’s decision not to ratify the Feminist Society, and are appalled at how the matter has been handled.”
Although the York Tories do not currently have an official stance on the issue, society chair, Dan Hawkridge said: “My own personal opinion is fully in support of Femsoc but on the condition of a reformation of Womcom to be more inclusive. I do however see the issues YUSU have taken with the ratification of the society; to me it seems very unfortunate that in the referendum a while back people did not more fully support changing Womcom to a Genders equality officer.
“If that would have happened I could not see how YUSU could find any issues with the ratification of Femsoc. A more niche example exists in GAP (Gender Accessible Politics). They used to be called LIPS (Ladies in Political Societies) but had to change their name to conform to Union rules. This for all intents and purposes is an even more specific feminist society and yet easily got ratified. I somewhat suspect this has more to do with YUSU not receiving an increase in society funding from the University for 3 to 4 years even though student numbers have increased greatly.”
The petition to get FemSoc YUSU ratified currently has nearly 700 signatures, with the campaign gaining attention from national newspaper The Independent’s website.
One of YUSU’s reasons for denying ratification was that the existence of the Women’s Committee meant that there was not a unique need for a feminist society. The UEA Feminist Society issued a statement saying: “We feel that having a separate feminist society alongside the women’s committee allows a wider group of students to become involved in and learn about feminism.”
Helena Horton, who is spearheading the ratification campaign, told Nouse: “I really hope that all of this support makes YUSU sit up and listen. Our petition has nearly 700 signatures now so to carry on ignoring the needs of students is ridiculous.”
Student Activities Officer, Chris West, said: “Firstly, I would like to say that we do always welcome comments, suggestions and opinions from groups at other universities. However, it is important to note that no two universities or Student Unions in the country have the same set-up or structure.
“With this specific example, the two panels that have reviewed the Fem Soc application have both came to the decision that potentially a more suitable route would be to incorporate the passion and ideas of the proposers and supporters of the Feminist Society into the development of the existing Women’s Network. I am looking forward to meeting with both the Women’s Officers and the proposers of Feminist Society tomorrow [Friday] to discuss how we can take this forward.”
The Student Activities Officer’s full quote was not included in the original article, this has now been amended.