Around 100 people turned up to our ‘Is Feminism Sexist?’ debate on 28th February. It was just as heated as expected as Tom Martin, the man famously suing LSE Gender Studies Dept, and Estelle Hart, NUS Women’s Officer, clashed over many issues ranging from sex trafficking and false rape allegations to fathers’ paternity rights and homeless men. There were many memorable over the night from supporters on either side of the debate – search #uclfemdebate on twitter for some highlights from the evening from those tweeting. Thanks to Lili for organising it and Candy for chairing.
Rachael Graham
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Last Thursday UCLU members voted in favour of our Union adopting official pro-choice policy. After weeks of non-stop planning and campaigning the UCLU Women’ Network were thrilled to see such a landslide victory. In fact the Yes campaign won by just under 1200 votes. The people have well and truly spoken.

Students also voted in favour of an affiliation to Abortion Rights. Abortion Rights is the national pro-choice campaign which seeks to defend access to safe termination and opposes any restriction on the right to choose. In return for an annual payment of £50 the Union will receive support and information relating to reproductive rights and their protection.

It’s about time that UCLU stood up for the right to choose. The implementation of such pro-choice policy comes at a time when reproductive rights are constantly coming under attack in the UK. Considering UCLU has over 12,000 female and trans male members it’s hard to imagine how this referendum could have produced any other result. We are now the fifth students’ union to have adopted pro-choice policy and hopefully we can encourage others to do the same. Students will no doubt continue to be an invaluable force when it comes to protecting reproductive rights.

Many thanks go to all those who campaigned tirelessly for this victory. We spoke out for choice and we won.

The exact breakdown of results can be found here: http://beta.uclu.org/articles/results-of-uclu-referenda-january-2012

Annie Tidbury

Voting for the referendum’s now well under way and we marked it opening with our Pro-Choice rally last week. We’ve been hard at work flyering and campaigning and have had a lot of positive feedback. There’s only one day to vote now so we need one final push and hopefully we’ll get the result we want tomorrow.

Click here to vote

      

Photos and Words by Rachael Graham 

This Union Believes Women Should Not Have the Right to Choose

The Emergency Members’ Meeting took place last week, a supposed bastion of democracy, where key policy issues are open to discussion amongst the student body. Three items stood on the agenda: confidence in the provost, UCLU’s stance on global issues such as Palestine, and a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body.

What began as a proposal defending the democratic rights and welfare of female members soon disintegrated into a thinly veiled pro-life debate, brought on by an ignorant opposition. One gentleman suggested the policy curtails free speech; another questioned its contribution to student welfare. It is interesting that the majority against the proposal were men, and as a male feminist it does make me somewhat uncomfortable that this trend has occurred in a liberal university such as UCL; however, the most important issue is how these members overlook the policy’s key ideas. Perhaps the term ‘pro-choice’ was the only thing they saw in the document, which contains 643 other words.

The greatest point of confusion came from the question of protecting free speech. A clause stipulates that events open to all students, which included a debate on abortion rights, should invite speakers for both sides of the argument. Failing this, an independent chair should be present. Commotion was caused when one member compared it to a ‘bible studies group’ being forced to supply ‘Richard Dawkins’ as an adequate counter. Yet this is an unfair assertion. For such a serious issue like abortion, the only thing that would damage the freedom of members is to leave them uninformed of the whole debate. If the pro-life side of the topic is being side-lined then why would the policy formally assert that the argument must also be balanced at any pro-choice talks?

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ALL UCL Students can vote on this in a referendum In February:

Today a motion was submitted to the UCLU Emergency Members’ Meeting. The motion was entitled:

‘Support a Student’s Right to Choose – UCLU should be Pro-Choice’.

It aimed to encourage balanced discussion of abortion, raise awareness of the surrounding issues, and support students in making decisions about their bodies and their futures.

An individual has the legal right to choose to terminate or continue a pregnancy and this policy reflects those legal rights. We want to give students the information and the confidence they require in order to make that decision for themselves.

UCLU already does an incredible job when it comes to student welfare and the next step is to pass this motion, to be proud of supporting a woman’s right to choose. We can’t afford to commit to student rights half-heartedly and official pro-choice policy leaves no doubt that UCLU supports its members.

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