Women’s Council Lent Term 2002 Minutes


Women’s Council
Lent Term 2002

Lent I
Tuesday 22nd January

News and Matters arising

New Women’s Officers were welcomed and invited to visit Alison at
the CUSU offices. Retiring Women’s Officers were asked to inform Alison
of their successors.

Amelia (Campaign Officer) described her plans for the release of the
forthcoming report into Indicators of Academic Performance. The report
is expected to be explosive and potentially damning, highlighting
women’s underachievement in the University. Amelia plans to organise
an evening towards the end of February/beginning of March with a discussion
panel of prominent female academics and individuals. The focus will
be the contents of the report and what changes should be made in response.

Chris invited people to write articles for the Lent edition Women’s
Union magazine Gender Agenda and to publicise the Michealmas edition
in colleges.

Suzanne (Campaign Officer) announced 21st February as a provisional
date for the discussion on pornography. It is intended that an academic
stance will be taken on the issue.

Report from CUSU Council and other Committees

Joint Committee for on Academic Performance – meetings have been dominated
by the forthcoming report and progress frustrated by its delay. It
is presently being proof read and will be available at the end of
January at the earliest. It is expected that the report will trigger
large scale media interest and present a great opportunity for women
in the university to make their voices heard. Alison also suggested
that the report could be followed up with lobbying in individual colleges,
encouraging JCR’s to pass motions requesting the making of a response.
It is regrettable that the report has been pushed back making it closer
to CUSU elections and International Women’s Week but it is hoped that
we will still be able to maximise its impact. Alison will continue
to chase up the report and keep everyone informed.

Childcare – progress as always has been slow but many proposals are
underway: forms for childcare bursaries are being redesigned, the
childcare guide is being reprinted (amidst controversy over the source
of funding) and the University is set to appoint a full time Childcare
Officer in July. The appointment of such an officer is particularly
important to free up more of Alison’s time. Women’s Officers were
asked to contact student parents in their colleges and make sure they
were aware of the support available through the Women’s Union.

CUSU – the Access Officer (Rachel Tripp) has been mandated to respond
by issuing press releases when access issues arise in the media. Supervisor
training and quality assurance is currently being discussed .The organisation
of University wide Ents is under consideration, with an attempt to
ensure that the financial risks involved are kept to a minimum.

Access Steering – Analysis is being done on why Women are roughly
equally likely to gain a place at Cambridge but much less likely than
men to gain one in their first choice college. Investigation into
the reasons for this discrepancy will then follow.

CUSU Women’s Officer: Report and Plan

provided copies of her report detailing her role and the work she
has completed. Women’s Officers and Exec were invited to make ask
questions or make comments either at Council or by e-mail.

Women’s Exec Elections

positions were up for election – International Women’s Representative
and Women’s Handbook Editor. There are still no candidates for the
first position but Alison will provide information about the role
for likely candidates at the next Council. Sara Ibraham stood for
the position of Women’s Handbook Editor and answered questions about
her ideas for the publication.

Ordinary Motion – Endometriosis

Cullen proposed and Josie von Zitzewitz seconded a motion for raising
awareness of Endometriosis and setting up a support group for sufferers.
The issue is particularly important since there is no currently no
provision for support in either Cambridge or the University. While
Endometriosis is the second most common gynaecological disorder in
women its existence is little known and due to poor diagnosis there
is a misconception that it only affects older women. It was suggested
that start up funds of £25 would be made available and that
CUSU resources could be used for producing leaflets. Also that the
student papers could be used as an effective medium to get the message
across. The motion was received warmly and generated much interest
in the illness.

Emergency Motions

were no emergency motions.

CUSU Council Motions

following motions were discussed and voted on in preparation for Alison’s
attendance at tomorrow’s CUSU Council.

Collation of Policy – Alison’s motion to form a system of collating
all policy made by CUSU. Later in the year, Alison proposes to do
the same for Women’s Council.

Complaints Procedure – This motion has been withdrawn for the moment.

Childcare – Motion proposed by Alison and Rachel Tripp to be mandated
by CUSU to continue work on this issue. Plans include appointing a
tutor responsible for childcare in each college to provide support
for student parents. Alison wishes to produce a proper report on the
issue before she hands over in the summer. It is particularly important
to involve CUSU as childcare is an issue for male students too.

Chair’s Aide – Second passing of motion to formalise the position
of the Chair’s Aide in CUSU Council. Vicky (CUSU Chair) explained
the motion and it was considered uncontroversial.

Amendment to Standing Orders – Another uncontroversial procedural

Open Meeting Motions for Ratification – For the third time at Women’s
Council diverse opinions were expressed on the appropriateness of
CUSU having a stance on the war in Afghanistan. There was a general
discussion on the issue and Council voted, Alison promising to inform
us promptly of the result. It was noted that an emergency motion is
being put to CUSU on the validity of the vote taken at the open meeting
but this will be discussed at the following Council when the paperwork
is available.

Any Other Business

Rachael Tait reported plans for joint college women’s activities.
The first even planned is an ‘Equaliser’ formal hall for all those
interested in equality issues. Women were invited to stay after the
meeting to discuss plans and Rachael will report the conclusions at
the next Council.

Amelia asked whether Women’s Officers would be willing to distribute
a questionnaire in their colleges as part of the planned response
to the forthcoming report into women’s underachievement. The questionnaire
would be for women in all years rather than just those who have taken
tripos exams. Some concern was expressed about the potentially subjective
nature of responses and it was suggested that Amelia prepare a draft
for consideration at the next Council. Harriet enquired whether the
report would include graduate performance and Alison said she would
investigate this and report back.

Alison distributed Beeline stickers for all Women’s Officers and Exec
to stick on the back of toilet doors in individual colleges.

Next Sunday at Kings College Women’s Officer training will take place
and is expected to be very useful and interesting. All Women’s Officers,
Exec and interested people are welcome to come along. The training
will take place between 12 and 4pm and e-mails will be sent out nearer
the time.

Alison is currently completing the Women’s Union termcard and asked
all those planning events to e-mail her with dates.


· Alison is also putting together a resource pack for Women’s

Ellen raised the issue of sexual harassment that had occurred at Corpus
Christi and the need to change the complaints procedure to enable
women to make a complaint to a female member of staff. Women’s Officers
were asked to investigate provision in their colleges and whether
procedures could be made more sensitive and effective.

There were enquiries about a venue for aerobics and St John’s Fisher
Building was suggested. Josie told us that Clare had had a huge demand
for their classes but if people dropped out as the term progressed
places would be offered to members of other colleges. There was also
discussion about self-defence classes and Sarah (Trinity) agreed to
e-mail Women’s Officers with the name of the instructor her college

The meeting was very well attended and the Secretary noted that more
paperwork (and indeed biscuits) could be useful next time!

Lent II
Tuesday 5th February

News and Matters arising

All new women’s officers were invited to visit Alison at the CUSU

Amelia reported that the JCAP report had been further delayed by the
university. It now seems that the report will not be released until
the end of March, outside term time. This is a major setback as it
will hamper attempts to publicise the report and plans for a discussion
panel response to it. Amelia and Alison plan to push for the report
to be released in term time even if this means waiting until after
Easter. Proposed action involves a letter to the chair, signed by
all women’s officers and putting a motion before CUSU Council.

Suzanne mentioned the relaunch of the Eating Disorders Service on
Thursday 7th February. The service now had new funds to improve support
for Cambridge students.

Alison apologised for missing paperwork due to technical difficulties
at the CUSU offices, the relevant information will be mailed by the
end of the week.

Forthcoming events include LBG awareness week, there will be a social
event at Newnham bar to promote interaction. One World Week takes
place next week and a discussion on multicultural integration from
a female perspective will take place at Emmanuel College next Tuesday.

The NUT Women’s Student Conference takes place from the 4-6th of March
in Blackpool. The university is able to send a delegate and an observer.
For practical reasons elections for these places will be held at the
next Women’s Council rather than on a university wide basis.

International Women’s Week also takes place during the first week
of March. A few central events are planned with help to support women’s
officers initiating events in individual colleges. Alison is organising
a card with the information.

Report from CUSU Council and other committees

CUSU Council – All the motions went the way that women’s council had
voted in favour of. The Afghanistan motion was not ratified but the
civil liberties motion was.

Access Committee – Alison and Rachel have proposed a report of the
same scale as the JCAP report, investigating access issues, looking
at women, ethnic minorities and different backgrounds. A paper has
been submitted and a report should soon be commissioned. The response
was positive and proposals have progressed to the next stage.

Childcare Committee – There is still a deadlock over the source of
funding for the reprint of the Childcare handbook but hopefully progress
will soon be made.

Elections – International Women’s Officer

Mishal Khan stood and was elected for this position.

Ordinary motions – Self Harm Support Group

A motion was put forward by Christine Holly and seconded by Mary Chester-Kadwell
to set up a support group giving information, advice, care and support.
Christine will act as a contact point to enable sufferers to meet
those in a similar position. Concern was expressed about the fact
that the support group will not provide professional counselling but
this is made clear in the wording of the motion and it is proposed
that the group will act strictly in compliance and liase with the
University Counselling Service. Christine will also work together
with Alison and Helen, the CUSU Welfare Officer in order to make sure
there is back up support for the group. It was also noted that men
would be able to come to the group but that the motion was being presented
to Women’s Council because a large majority of sufferers are female.
The support group is intended to fill a gap in provision for those
who cannot obtain counselling due to long waiting lists but are in
need of support.

Emergency motion – National demonstration

An emergency motion to mandate the sabbatical Women’s Officer to press
release our support for the NUS national ‘Grants not Fees’ demonstration
which takes place on the 20th February. The issue of tuition fees
is especially important for women, as they typically take longer to
pay off student debts due to lower pay and career breaks. More women
are forced to drop out of higher education for financial reasons or
deterred from applying in the first place. Also some women come from
backgrounds were cultural beliefs prevent their families financially
supporting them in continuing education. The motion also proposes
to take the Women’s Union banner to the demonstration in London and
to attract as much support as possible. It was also suggested that
the press releases could be made to the national and local press.
Posters will be distributed to women’s officers as well as to JCR/MCRs
and flyers are available.

CUSU Council Motions

Admissions reform The Access Officer has proposed that the admissions
process is simplified in order to encourage applications for institutions
that may not be familiar with the procedure. There was a general discussion
of the issues involved and it was considered that there was no convincing
reason for Cambridge to insist on separate forms, an earlier deadline
and an additional fee to the one imposed by UCAS. Josie explained
that the different admissions procedure could make things difficult
for students applying from overseas. It was felt wrong that Cambridge
should create for itself a privileged applications procedure. Change
is likely to be gradual but wholly worthwhile.

Ents and Finances A reports has been produced investigating the loss
made by last years university wide ent. It is proposed that it is
not cost effective, at least in the near future to run university
wide ents and that more focus will be placed on club nights and supporting
of college events. It was felt by Council that there should be more
effective branding of student nights as many are unaware that they
are subsidised by CUSU. Alison pointed out that she felt it was wrong
to invest large amounts of money on high-risk projects when it is
much needed for ground level casework. The proposed change will also
enable Sabbaticals to focus more on other aspects of their roles.
Alison promised to forward the Cost Benefit Analysis report and receive
comments on it prior to her voting on the motion.


Discussion of ents provoked queries on taxi provision for students.
This is done by colleges on an individual basis and varies considerably.
It was suggested that women’s officers investigate arrangements in
their individual colleges.

Christine publicised Gender Agenda and distributed posters and stickers
to put up in colleges.

The inconsistency in information sent with requests for smear tests
was highlighted. Some practices do not make it clear that a smear
test is not necessary once the age of 20 is reached unless you are
sexually active. The failure to do this has led to several girls undergoing
traumatic experiences. This is a serious issue since women should
feel empowered to take care of their sexual health rather than deterred
from doing so. It was suggested that information regarding this aspect
of smear tests could be included in the women’s handbook. Alison said
she would liase with Jo to investigate the procedure followed by different
practices and clinics in Cambridge, drawing this problem to their

CUSU minibuses are gradually being replaced with people carriers so
that those without a licence can drive them.

The new website officers have resigned due to work pressures and Mary
is appealing for possible candidates. Posters will be distributed
to advertise the position in colleges.

Alison informed women’s officers that she had an extra supply of pregnancy tests to fulfil requests in colleges.

Meeting Adjourned.