To those of you who don’t know me I am a second year Social Policy with Government student and sorry to those who do know me because you’ve heard this argument so many times before!
I, along with our club chair and other members of the society, want to put forward a motion to change the position of Equalities Officer, so that each liberation group has their own officer. I know that there will be some people who might be opposed to this idea and so I am going to put forward my arguments in here – feel free to ask questions if I haven’t addressed your point.
Why do I want the position to change?
Personally, I think there are loads of reasons but I will just address the most important. Firstly, by grouping the liberation issues under one umbrella, it makes the issues of each group less significant as the officer cannot focus their attention equally on all causes. If we had someone representing each cause, they can focus their attention on the issues of the people they represent. Secondly, no matter how brilliant our current Equalities Officer is, there is no way he can truly understand what it is like to be discriminated against for being disabled or an ethnic minority. If I held the current position I too could not fully comprehend the issues that LGBT people face in society and even though my brother has learning disabilities I cannot truly understand what it is like to be in that position. Even if you are friends or related to someone who faces discrimination or inequality, you can sympathise but you cannot empathise. I also think that if you are a member of that caucus you will be more likely to be enthusiastic and proactive about making change and joining campaigns than someone who is not.
Even if you are right, even within each liberation groups there are different subsections that face discrimination. If you’re saying someone who is White cannot represent the interests of an ethnic minority, how could a Black person represent the interests of an Asian person?
This is an issue I think can come up quite a lot, but I think the best answer is that although they are not the same race, they still face similar disadvantages in life and discrimination purely based on race. I think it is better to have someone representing ethnic minorities as a whole, than not at all. The same goes for the LGBT position, you could equally argue that a Gay man does not fully understand the problems that a Lesbian woman faces -or the problems of a Bisexual or Transgender person-, but again, it is important that they have someone that understands how unfair it is to be discriminated against over your sexuality.
Although I agree that there should be different liberation officers, I think that it may be a waste of time as the positions may be vacant.
The best way to get people more involved in politics is to have a wide range of representation. Because I am BAME I will discuss the issue within this context, but it can be applied to each liberation cause. Firstly, BAME representation within Labour is pretty poor anyway, so getting people from BAME communities to be involved in politics can be hard. But I think to get more BAME students involved in Labour you need to have someone representing them in our society. Personally, I think if there was a dedicated BAME officer, they would be in a better position to reach out to ethnic minority societies in the university such as ACS, the Pakistan Society or the Chinese Society (to name a few). Liberation issues are not ones that just face members of the Labour Party, discrimination occurs no matter what side of the political spectrum you are on and so cross-society cohesion is likely to occur for campaign issues. For example, in BAME Labour you don’t actually have to be a member of the Labour Party to join, it is seen as a space in which BAME members of society can talk about the issues that face them and attempt to educate policy makers about these problems. Luckily for Labour, the political party that is in the best position to taking away these discriminations is the Labour Party due to the dedication to issues of equality and social mobility. So, if the positions stay vacant, it is a shame but it is not the end of the world and it is better that there is a dedicated position than one umbrella position that attempts to encapsulate the needs of all, and fails. I might also add that with dedicated positions, more members from each liberation position are likely to become more involved with the society and so it may not even be a problem.
There are liberation officers at the Labour Students level, is that not enough?
To put it bluntly, no. The fact that there are positions at the higher level makes it even more necessary to have them at the lower levels. Our society should try to reflect the structure and values of the rest of the party. When I said that there wasn’t a BAME Officer in our society at the BAME Students political day and at the Labour Students Political Weekend BAME Caucus, most people were surprised. I don’t know exactly how many, but a lot of Labour student societies have BAME officers and it should be the case at LSE too, especially because we have such an ethnically diverse student body. All liberation roles are important and each have campaigns important to them and I don’t think that under the current system, every liberation group is getting the support they need.
I think I have now covered all bases! If you still don’t agree, or have further questions then please comment and I will answer as soon as possible. It is an issue I am particularly passionate about and I hope we can get this through in March at the AGM and give each liberation group the support they deserve.