Minutes from Women’s Council – Michaelmas I 2007

Women’s Council – Mich I – Gonville and Caius Bateman Auditorium – 16/10/07



Elly (CUSU sabbatical Women’s Officer and Chair of Council): Apologies for destroying the rainforest with the amount of paper used. Welcome to new Women’s Officers and explanation of Sabbs post (since 1993), what the Officer can do and Women’s Union.

Elly: This summer mainly working with Cambridge Rape Crisis to try and resurrect the service. Positive response – lots of volunteers. A new service opening at the end of November, discussions over where it will be housed: Cambridge Victim Support or Cambridge Women’s Resource Centre.

Ratification of Women’s Officer’s appointments outside of term
Elly: An Executive Committee should have been elected in Lent Term. Because this didn’t happen, positions were co-opted over the Summer in order to fill positions of Secretary, Women’s Welfare, Siren Editor and Open Portfolio. Vote to ratify this. The other positions are: Black and Asian Women’s Officer, Graduates’ Officer, International Women’s Officer, LGBT Officer, Women in Sport Officer, Website Editor and another Open Portfolio position. Elections will be held at next Council meeting, open to all students but only Women’s Officers vote.

Nominations are open from now on and close right before the next Council where we will vote for these. You can nominate yourself but another female needs to second you.

Aileen Bintliff, King’s: If we encourage people to run, should we encourage them to come to the next meeting to speak?
Elly: Yes, they speak briefly and answer questions.

Jordan Savage, New Hall: Why does Women’s Union only allow women to vote? ‘No uterus, no opinion’?
Elly: CUSU male-dominated, the idea behind Women’s Union is so that women can have their voice heard to a greater degree in a comparatively unrepresentative environment and work together on campaigns that affect us.

Are men getting the chance to get involved with the Rape Crisis Centre?
Elly: Men will be able to get involved, just not answering the telephones as puts callers of both sexes off, and the ethos of rape crisis centre is very much a feminist ethos.

Ordinary Motions:

Motion A – Joining ‘End Violence Against Women’ – EVAW
Carol Atack, Lucy Cavendish: What are the specific actions done by EVAW?
Elly: Administrated by Amnesty, college days run for, part of Stop Violence Against Women Campaign.

Nadira Huda, Women of Trinity President: What is the aim of EVAW?
Elly: Emphasis on actions put in place, legislation, etc. Pressure group. Working for a legislative platform to combat gender based violence similar to the one introduced in Scotland.

Motion B – Cambridge Rape Crisis
Elly: Motion to formalise our support of the Rape Crisis.

Alys Cundy, Clare: Are we looking for fundraising as well as volunteers?
Elly: Yes. Problem wasn’t lack of funding, it was frustration with the Council. New service will have administrators better equipped to deal with this funding.

Aileen: Are there training dates?
Training in 27th and 28th October, 10-4 at King’s

Hannah Fair, Emmanuel: Do people have to sign up for these in advance?
Elly: Yes, signing up shows that there will be a commitment and it helps answer some questions.

Jordan Savage, New Hall: Is there proper training for volunteers?
Elly: Yes. First day run by previous volunteers and second day training run by a psychotherapist and it will be a bit more intense. There may be top-up training, if necessary.

Hannah Fair, Emmanuel: Is training open to any woman, or are you looking for a type of women with experience/emotional resilience?
Elly: Experience isn’t an issue at all.

Natalie Szarek, Newnham: A lot of people asking how hard is it? How emotionally distressing is it?
Elly: It can be really difficult. Every week after your time on the phone you have a session with a psychotherapist to talk through your experience. You can share this experience within the organisation, without mentioning names.

Trinity: How many hours a week?
Elly: Three hours a month on the ‘phones and two hour debrief meeting. Graduates might be asked to do six hours a month when they are here outside of term. Flexibility with the hours you do.

Alys Cundy, Clare: Any way people can help if they can’t commit with being on the phones?
Elly: Yes. Administration and fundraising. Need a fundraising ‘team’ to organise events around Cambridge.

Hannah Fair, Emma: Are volunteers all students?
Elly: Mostly, but not all. Split between graduates and undergraduates.

Annie Ring, Caius: What do people do currently if raped in Cambridge?
Peterborough Rape Crisis number given out at the moment.

Aileen: How much should we take an ideological stance on this? Funding taken from many important support groups in Cambridge – e.g. YPS.
Elly: Have to be careful because it didn’t just shut because of lack of funding. Difficult process to get money and a strain on the time and money of the previous volunteers. It is the case that things are being shut down and not enough attention is given to this.

Hannah: What are the main costs? Building? Training?
Elly: Have to pay the psychotherapist but the building is the main cost. Operated on turnover of between £5-6,000 a year. We’re getting grants and bits and pieces of money. £1,500-2,500 on building rent.

Nadira: Have you looked at getting sponsorship?
Elly: John Lewis gave us £500 and the City Council have been helpful in putting the applications together.

Motion C – Sanitary Provision
Rhian Keyse, Trinity Hall: Some colleges only empty sanitary bins once a month. There should be adequate provision, but the legislation needs to be stronger. Every two weeks seems to be more ‘adequate’.

Koshka Duff, Fitzwilliam: Had some people concerned as corridors with en-suite had no sanitary bins on entire corridors, but has been sorted out now.

Carol: Communal or en-suite facilities does this apply?
Elly: Communal but also important to ask about en-suites and bin provision in these.

Pilar Garrard, Peterhouse: Is this policy that every communal bathroom in the college will have a sanitary bin?
Elly: ‘Every toilet that may be used by a woman’

Eily-Meg MacQueen, Christ’s: Is one in each toilet, is this okay?
Elly: This policy is for the college officers to give them more power to pressurise where necessary.

Hannah, Emma: Are they emptied by the same company? What about college houses?
Elly: Question to raise with your college.

Annie, Caius: Who to speak to about this issue? As a normal student.
Elly: Women’s Officer, your tutor or the Senior Tutor.

CUSU Council Ordinary Motions:

QAA Audit
Elly: Every 6 years every higher educational facility in the country gets an audit. QAA will describe what’s right/wrong in Cambridge. Student paper dealt with by CUSU Academic Affairs’ Officer and about to be written. One consultation will be with the Women’s Union, able to tell him what we think is wrong/right. Do we agree with this Officer dealing with this paper?

Bettina Otto, Jesus: If we suggest things to go in the audit does it have to go in or can they leave it out?
Elly: Can’t guarantee whether or not it will go in but Elly will try and chase up important issues going in.

Any other business
Aileen, King’s: A friend approached at 11:30pm on Saturday and threatened with rape by two men, in Market Square. Doesn’t want to go to the police but need the female population to be aware of this.
Elly: Can go to police anonymously. University Liaison Officer, Carole Langton, deals with things like this in a more informal way. Elly will send warnings about this out to JCR Presidents.

Christ’s: Having an issue with the college about an archaic peanut holder in the bar with a naked woman on. Has spoken to Senior Tutor about this, but what more can be done?
Elly: Elly can write a letter. But cite the Gender Equality Duty introduced in April. Any public institution required not only not to gender discriminate but to prove how it isn’t discriminating against women. Or can talk about Access – need to encourage women to apply there, doesn’t look good for a male dominated college to have this.

Hannah Fair, Emma: Trying to encourage people at College to be more interested in the Union. What will happen to the Minutes?
Elly: The minutes will be put on the Women’s Union website.
Hannah: How do we find out if motions are passed?
Elly: This will be in the Minutes.

Aileen, King’s: Worries about people applying for Women’s Officer because they have a Women’s Welfare Officer and a Men’s Welfare Officer, how to sell it?
Elly: Difficulty with Women’s Only services is that there’s a backlash against them, we need to campaign on this and emphasise the work that we do and how important we actually are.
Natalie Szarek, Newnham: There’s a welfare aspect and an activist aspect to the role. This includes issues in Cambridge such as lower sports funding, lower numbers of firsts. Many issues affect us as women, and running campaigns on issues such as these can attract attention.
Elly: Flag up our achievements such as Rape Crisis Centre.

Christ’s: Someone came to her today asking about how to get the morning after pill, can we get it on someone’s behalf?
Elly: No, they need to answer medical questions. You can go with them.

Caius: Has come from a previous Uni with a pro-choice union, do we have that?
Elly: We are affiliated with abortion rights.

Aileen: Are pregnancy tests free? Can there be better instructions?
Elly: Yes they are free. We can photocopy the instructions and will try and get the old packs which had the instructions on the pack.

Natalie Szarek, Newnham: This Thursday is Love Your Body day. Holding an acoustic night with cocktails in Newnham bar with profits going to an eating disorder charity. Please come along, join the face book event and email everyone about it. Elly will email out a poster to print out and put it up in their college. Men are welcome too. 8:30pm-11pm this Thursday.

Clare College: Do we have any leaflets for anything to give out to do with this?
Elly: One of the problems is not very much literature, but we have Love Your Body Day wristbands at CUSU.

Jordan, New Hall: No Diet Day was an issue in New Hall, people selling muffins door-to-door and a junk-food picnic. It was more ‘binge-eating’ day!
Elly: Perhaps bring a motion about this? It’s no longer ‘No Diet Day’ for this reason.

Koshka Duff, Fitzwillim: Saw a Dove advert about the issues of advertising certain resources they have for young women but could email a link to have a look at this.
Elly: Will set up face book group to do with this.

Juliet Mushens, Queens’: ‘Pimps and hos’ QEnts theme was offensive, but Ents’ Committee was happy to change it. Talk to Ents’ Officers to see if they have a Constitution which protects minorities.
Sidney Sussex: Produced a set of guidelines for ents for appropriate themes.
Jordan, New Hall: Problem with one termly Ent called ‘Trash’. Advertising is always phallic symbolism. How should you act with something like that?
Elly: Difficult to bring issues like this, perhaps a motion?

Natalie Szarek: ‘Feminist Fightback’ looking at issues women are facing today Look at feministfightback.co.uk.

Rhian Keyse, Trinity Hall: ‘Miss Tit Hall’ drag competition is offensive and degrading for transsexuals/transvestites.
Christ’s: It was banned at Christ’s for legal implications and health implications.
Juliet Mushens, Queens’: Talk to RAG organisers to discuss how it could be dealt with.
Elly: Start a discussion about it and open dialogue?
Caius: Liaise with the LGBT Officer about this?


Co-options made to Women’s Exec ratified by Council – 14 -1 – Therefore:

Rhian Keyse – co-opted to Women’s Welfare
Jordan Savage – co-opted to SIREN editor
Juliet Mushens – co-opted to WU Secretary
Natalie Szarek – co-opted to Open Portfolio: Gender Matters

Motion A passed – 15 – 0
Motion B passed – 15 – 0
Motion C passed – 15 – 0

CUSU Council Motion A passed – 15 – 0