Hannah Ryder is running for Activities Officer, here are her views on inclusivity.
LUU is unequivocally a diverse union and with hundreds of societies you would think there was nothing better. We prove that Leeds stands up for the matters that are important; with our first ever woman-centred LGBTQ+ club night just passing, alongside a multitude of diverse events for LGBTQ+ and Black History months and World Unite Festival just round the corner. Hundreds of Leeds students gathered to protest the Muslim Ban, showing that we will not be accomplices to prejudice in any forms. It is honestly humbling to see the love and respect we share for each other.
I want to make this respect and awareness of diversity a foundation for our clubs and societies. Making ourselves a better Union does not only mean standing up for the big issues- although this remains a central component, but fighting for the little issues. It means finding little ways to encourage and support each other every-day. This may be helping those with anxiety feel safe auditioning for a musical, or creating a judgement free environment where males feel comfortable joining a stereotypically feminine sport (or vice versa!). It is making sure committees are aware of the access issues faced by minorities, whether that be encouraging societies to learn basic sign language or pushing for safe spaces for those with religious dress requirements to take part in activities. When a Muslim girl expressed desire to join Vertical Fitness, it shamed me that I had never considered the access issues she must face in being unable to wear shorts and a strappy top in front of males. In our current class location of Upper Stylus we could not confirm she would not been seen by male passer-by’s. This is why I want to push for a system of prevention over cure. By working with clubs and societies to discuss what access issues may arise before they do, the Union can work to pre-empt access issues and therefore usher in an era of greater activity, inclusivity and engagement.
In the wake of Brexit, it is also vital that we stand as a welcoming environment to the international community who are sadly becoming more ostracised in the Western world. I want to push for more events that allow us greater insight into each other’s cultures, beliefs and practises, especially during the first few weeks of term. This does not need only apply to international clubs and societies, as we could all benefit from a greater understanding and awareness of each other. In a world where people are becoming more divided we should recognise and celebrate each other, and although clubs and societies may not be the only solution, they are definitely a strong first step towards that.
Hannah Ryder, running for Activities Officer.
(Image courtesy of Inclusion Matters)