The world of student politics is a conflicted place. It can be “colonialist and Eurocentric” to commemorate the Holocaust one minute but “racist” and “Islamophobic” to condemn ISIS the next. The NUS calendar for 2015 continues that theme of lively, contradictory thinking when it holds its annual conference in Liverpool on April 21 (before the black students‘ conference, the disabled students‘ conference and the “anti-racist, anti-fascist” event).
In a taster of what to expect, the University of Bristol’s motion – which has been democratically ratified by its student union – is called: “Research sexism in education environments,” and proposes that it is sexist to compliment a woman on her handwriting.
A copy of the motion was leaked to the Bristol Tab, it reads:
“There is a false assumption that with the access of women into Higher Education and with the majority of students being women that the classrooms or labs are not spaces where sexism is felt.
“Women are always asked to justify their claims of feeling uncomfortable or to ‘prove’ that a space is hostile.
“It is widely assumed that learning spaces can no longer be male dominated and that women can’t feel excluded given that they might outnumber men in the room.
“However we still hear things like ‘you are good at logic for a girl’, ‘your handwriting is nice’ said by a male lab demonstrator.
“We’re still not feeling confident to ask questions at a research seminar, women still speak less in seminars compared to men, and still experience sexual harassment at academic conferences – this is anecdotal evidence usually shared in safe spaces.
“But we know that in many subjects women student numbers drop from undergraduate, to postgraduate taught to then postgraduate research level because educational spaces and academic attitudes are patriarchal and unwelcoming.”
There you go. Even though, as the authors admit, women outnumber and outperform men in higher education, they continue to be the victims because men are nice to them.
This, from the same young minds that brought us NUS Women’s Campaign and its plea for the use of jazz hands instead of clapping.