For the first time in its history, every one of the sabbatical officers at the University of Sheffield’s students’ union is a woman. Our team of eight officers (president, union development, education, welfare, women’s, international, sports and activities), saw off tough competition to win their individual elections. Being part of the first all-female team presents some unique opportunities and considerations.
The decision for many of us to stand was influenced by a campaign to encourage more women to run for SU elections. Our last women’s officer tapped into the successful campaign, #SheShouldRun, which was formed in the US to encourage more women to run for office. Our team is keen to extend this sentiment to engage other groups. In particular, we want to address the lack of diversity on our team.
United by our gender and our solidarity with the #MeToo movement, one of our shared goals is to work towards ending sexual harassment and violence on campus, and creating support services for students who have experienced this. Ambitious as that may sound, we think that it is incredibly important to start shaping how we want our future to look now. Our student unions and universities are producing the doctors, lawyers and teachers of tomorrow and we can help to instil core values in our members through leading by example.
While some of our goals are rooted in our experiences as women, we take our commitment to represent all students very seriously. Women often have to work twice as hard to be heard and so we’re adamant that we will make the most of our opportunities to enable change this year.
We are focused on helping our students navigate a post-Brexit world, where the competition in higher education is putting pressure on them to squeeze everything out of a high-priced education. We want to see a student-led change in the curriculum so that it’s decolonised, liberated, sustainable and works for students. Guided by our shared values of progress, justice, sustainability and liberation, we will work together to continue to ensure that our students’ union serves our students as they need it.
Our goal is to continue making changes and share our experiences with other sabbatical teams about how a students’ union can and should be run.
Read more: Top 10 universities led by women