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Hi everyone,

Before I go into my first blog post detailing what I have been getting up to in office your women’s officer, I’d like to say a massive thank you and a huge welcome to everyone that I have met over the past couple of weeks, everyone that attended our meet and greet, forum meeting and everyone that is getting involved with our network. I and the committee loved meetimg you!

 I have been in office for just over three months and the purpose of this blog post is to give an oversight of; what I have been getting involved in, my reflections on what I feel the women’s network should be for you as a self-defining woman at UCL and the campaigns for this year.

My first couple of months have been packed with activities, including a handover period where I spent two weeks partaking in several pieces of training - both with the UCL and the NUS (National Union Of Students), meeting staffs, students and officers across the country, reading and expanding my knowledge in preparation for this role. Some of these have been very vital in equipping me with knowledge and tools necessary for me to create campaigns. The most valuable thing, however, has been meeting other like-minded women with the similar goal of smashing sexism and patriarchy in their communities and institutions. It has also been very important for me to read, reflect, digest and plan the year ahead.

I spent my first 3 months working on two aspects of my campaign; ending sexual misconduct on our campus by raising awareness and making reporting easier for students, and developing a strategy to end period poverty on our campus.

With regards to period poverty on campus with the help of certain Union members, a three-step strategy for ending period poverty on our campus has been developed. The first step is in the works so look out for the changes in your union buildings!

In terms of ending sexual misconduct on our campus, Students union UCL has taken a more unified approach. SU UCL has taken a broader approach where it aims to tackle the culture around issues such as student sexual misconduct through the use of active bystander workshops which aims to equip students with knowledge of what sexual misconduct might look like and how to intervene if witnessed. The union is also reviewing its complaints procedure which for numerous reasons, has been ineffective for supporting students. Although SU UCL isn’t without faults they take a more sensible proactive approach to improve the lives of students, including women on campus.

So far, I have approached the topic of ending sexual misconduct, bullying, and harassment towards women on our campus by pushing for a change in the cultures underlying these issues. Lack of awareness around what constitutes sexual misconduct, harassment, disorderly behavior and sentiments of entitlement by perpetrators are the most common underlying reasons I have come across as to why harassment is rife on our institution. In our current political and social sphere, ignorance isn’t ever and shouldn’t ever be an excuse of perpetrators for the harassment and the victimization of others. I have spent the last few weeks having vital conversations and strategizing how to make awareness of consent and the other issues mentioned above a core part of student citizenship at UCL. This has been very progressive.

The same cannot be said for UCL who on the other hand planned to launch the “Report & Support” Tool. This tool is a unified mechanism which provides details on what entails sexual misconduct, what types of issues you can report (such as harassment, bullying, stalking etc.) it then links your report to the appropriate team that deals with your case. It also provides the opportunity for anonymous reporting and gives several tools of support. This tool is a one-stop shop that makes the process of reporting and getting support very straightforward and less strenuous. It also plays a part in showing where UCL stands on harassment in their institution. UCL initially made the decision to launch the “Report and Support” tool for staffs only in October. Resistance from me, other Union members and some key staffs led to the postponing of this launch, allowing for reconsiderations to making this tool accessible to UCL’s majority student population. However, these conversations are being met with extremely questionable resistance from UCL.

My next blog post will give more detail on “Report and Support” so keep an eye out!

On a positive note, I spent the past few months reflecting deeply on the purpose of the women’s network and how you as a woman at UCL should be able to utilize it during your time here.

The women’s network is a community that represents all women and non-binary people including (if they wish) those with gender identities which include ‘woman’, transfeminine people and those who feel that they experience structural misogyny. It is a powerhouse where we as women come together to support each other through Self and Collective care- a vital form of activism, where we eliminate oppression and discrimination faced by women and non-binary people at our University on an institutional, social, and cultural level. Our network is for all women including women who are student parents.

The network isn’t a space for racism, TERFS, Islamophobia, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, Xenophobia and any other forms of hate, but its a space for solidarity, expression, individual and collective growth through activism and sisterhood.

It’s Mental Health awareness day on the 10th of October! Rothna our Welfare & International Officer will be on the Student Union Social Media sites (@studentsunionucl) from 2-4PM! Feel free to join her on Instagram Live & ask any questions! Also, meet us at 5pm on Friday the 12th of October for a women’s only Self-care workshop! Location TBC on our social media.

Peace & Love.

Abeni Adeyemi

Women’s Officer Students Union UCL

Facebook- UCL Women’s Network Instagram- womensnetworkucl