Friday, 2 November 2012

Universities Respond: Part Three

University of Hull:

Thank you for your email.

I am making enquiries as to the nature of the Welcome Week events that were organised by the Hull University Union and hopefully we will be able to supply you with a response in due course.

Can I just enquire as to what capacity you are writing in? For example, are you a current or former student of the University of Hull, a current or former student at a different university or are you enquiring from a press perspective. If so, for whom do you write and what is your deadline?

This will help us tailor our response accordingly.

I was running out of patience with these replies by this point. And patience is not something I possess in abundance at the best of times. It shouldn't matter who I am, a University should be able to describe what procedures they have in place for aiming to lower sexual harassment claims regardless.

Sent my usual polite reply anyway.

Cardiff University:

This email came titled, 'You Didn't Read Up On Us, Did You?

Hello! I'm Sam Hickman the currents women's officer and Head of the Cardiff women's Association.

Cardiff union and the university has both a zero tolerance to sexual harassment of any kind and we have an incredibly competent team of officers which would never allow anything like 'pop your cherry' to every be printed in any student media...

Therefore, We are pretty incredible when it comes to gender equality... we're not yet there.. but we're working damn hard to get it! :D

Also, this week alone we've been quoted in both the huffington post and the independent news paper... We're doing stuff already!

Join us on facebook, twitter or campusgroups for more info !

Thanks

Sam Hickman

Hello Sam!

You obviously didn't read the STANDARD email I sent along with my STANDARD letter, did you?

Dear Sir/Madam,

Please find attached a standard letter I am emailing to Universities and Student Union representatives. My sincere apologies if you feel the nature of Freshers' Week events described therein do not apply to student events arranged at _________.

Thank you for your time.

Kind regards

Also, if you'd done an equal amount of research into me as you'd expected I'd done into you, you'd discover I don't have a Facebook account!

Ok, I'll drop the snarkiness now and award a thumbs up to Cardiff.

Heriot-Watt University:

I'm really glad you're sending out this letter, and even though there have been no events similar to this at Heriot-Watt, it's really encouraging to see someone taking a stand against such disgusting misogynistic behaviour.

I'm the Women's Officer for the Union here at Heriot-Watt, and I'd appreciate it if you could keep me up to date on what's happening, and with any ways I can help you with this.

This really warmed the cockles of my Frustrated Feminist heart and gave me incentive to carry on.

University of East London:

Thanks for your letter. Can I ask are you a student at the University of East London, or perhaps a student elsewhere? As a students union concerned with students rights and welfare, naturally we share the same concerns as you when it comes to unhealthy event publicity and events which are not sensitive to the needs of our diverse body of students. We do organise social events on campus during Freshers Week, but the advertisement for our Students Union entertainments and events are nothing like those you describe. As a charity we are in champions of students’ welfare, and I’m sure that such insensitive event publicity makes us even more angry than it makes you.

Unfortunately, most ‘university’ events of this nature are not usually in any way affiliated either to universities or students unions. Clubnight promoters tend to brand their parties as ‘university freshers party’ and similar because they know they can get a big attendance that way. Naturally, students unions and universities tend to shun this sort of publicity and refuse to cooperate with these promoters (we don’t allow them space on our campuses to promote unofficial Freshers events, for example). However, because there’s a lot of money in club promoting around universities, these companies and promoters are sometimes ruthless and will always find a way to get the word out to students and also to make it seem like their event is an official one. They have more staff time dedicated to advertising than we do.

Thankfully, the University of East London experienced much less unlicensed event promotion than usual this year, possibly thanks to our own (safe, and sensitive) events programme. We have received positive feedback about our Freshers Week this year from UEL students from a wide range of different ages, ethnic origins, nationalities, genders, and backgrounds.

This was the first reply I received that truly opened my eyes to the influence of external companies cashing in on Fresher money, willingness to partaaay, and naievty.

Imperial College London:

Thank you for your email –

The email referenced in the Independent article was sent by two (female) students on behalf of a constituent part of the Union (the Physics society). For that, the two students have been disciplined, have been made to apologise, and are attending a session to be run by the Union on what we deem ‘appropriate communication’.

The events listed in the rest of the article do not occur at Imperial College Union: we do not run themed events of this nature: all of our events are publically viewable on the Union’s calendar, http://www.imperialcollegeunion.org/whats-on . Our themes are ‘rubiks cube’, ‘uv rave’, and ‘90s’ to name a few.

Again, I apologise for any offence caused by the email, but rest assured this is not standard practice at Imperial College Union.

The by-product of frazzling my brain sending out so many emails is forgetting which establishments were mentioned in Laura Bates' article that I referenced at the beginning of my standard letter. Nevertheless, I probably wouldn't've made any changes in my letter sent out to Imperial College London. It's all about equal treatment, after all.

Verrry interesting to hear of the spin put on the article though, the implication being that it was horny males sending out the email to Physics students that caused all the hoohah. Very interesting indeed. More on that later.