Kelly Purple describes her experience of organising at Birmingham City University.
A standalone feminist fightback at Birmingham City University is practically non-existent right now, though there have been general student campaigns which have the support of the Students Union.
As a member of the Socialist Students Society, I’ve tried to bring up female issues whenever possible and I’ve had some good discussions with other members. The society as a whole, however, focuses mainly on student issues, or at least it has during the events of the past year.
The Students Union organised some protests against fees and cuts before the decision was announced.
I remember a particularly cold day standing outside the library with a table full of leaflets. A friend kept shouting through a megaphone, trying to drum up interest. Other students gathered to watch us, but not many signed our petitions, though most went away with a leaflet if we could press one onto them. I don’t think it’s that people disagree with us, it’s just that people are passive.
I didn’t see many people with a genuine interest in helping the cause, though the student-elected representatives of the union were taking part, which I was glad to see.
A lot of students also attended the first few demos in London, me among them.
It gave us a much needed boost of morale to see so many others from around the country with the same agenda.
Overall I’m pretty happy with the Students Union here. Female students can be found in top positions and recent internal elections had as many female candidates as male candidates.
There’s a real sense of solidarity anyway since we have such a diverse range of people from all over the world. Race isn’t an issue and gender doesn’t seem to be either. It’s a good position to be in.
I’m hoping that this year there will be a lot more interest in the Socialist Students Society. Last year we were taking our first few tentative steps, but now we’re officially recognised with the Students Union and in a few weeks we’ll be having a stall at the Freshers’ Fair, which hundreds of new students as well as returning ones will attend.
Of course, I’ll continue to ensure women’s issues are on the agenda, as it is an area that is important to me.
The next challenge will be getting my fellow students motivated enough to attend regular meetings and take an interest in matters that will affect them.