GUU Disaffiliation and Tomorrow’s Demo

March 7, 2013 in actions, events, main, news by Martin Lennon

This week we held events focusing on gender based violence, harassment and assault. These are issues that we visit every International Women’s Day, but this year the talks on sexual harassment, assault and abuse as well as our workshops on taking action against it, felt particularly relevant on Glasgow University campus this year.


The treatment of the female debaters at this year’s ancients was shocking but unfortunately not at all surprising. The misogynistic abuse they received was part in part of a culture we live in where it is sometimes acceptable to judge women purely on appearance and where sexual and gender based harassment is normalised, where victims are told to expect it and where the perpetrators are excused.


For some reason this appears particularly acceptable within the Glasgow University Union. The incident this weekend was not an isolated incident; it is the result of a pattern of casual sexism and institutionalised condoning of sexism in the union – it didn’t start and end on Saturday night. The loyalty to the LAMB club, the bizarre pride of being the last single gender union in the UK, and the general aggressive laddish attitude that characterises many events at the union, have all had a part to play in the incident.


At the start of term we affiliated with the GUU because we wanted to try to be a presence across campus. We haven’t held any events there this term out of a mixture of practical concerns and because some of our members are very uncomfortable with this history and the culture at the union, but some among us maintained hope that the stories and image were exaggerated – the incident at the weekend convinced that last few that it hasn’t been.


GU Amnesty International is disaffiliating with the GUU, until we can see evidence of real change in the way it deals with attitudes to gender. After consulting our members, we do not feel we can credibly argue for respecting the human while having any relationship with a group so relaxed about disrespect and abuse towards women. We look forward to the day when we can campaign for human rights across campus and we hope the promised new code of conduct and equality training sessions can help change the culture of the GUU.


Until then, we urge anyone reading this to attend the demonstration tomorrow (Library Hill – 12pm) against all misogyny on campus, whether at the GUU, on bullying Facebook Pages or anywhere else.