OPINION: Men’s Officer at student unions should NOT exist

For the first time ever, a students’ union in Bristol are introducing a men’s officer role. Others are praising the university’s initiative, but feminist Rebecca Sheeres thinks otherwise… 

University of the West of England (UWE) students’ union have launched new ‘liberation’ roles, which I thought was great – until I found out one was a Men’s Officer.

For the first time ever, UWE are introducing roles for a Women’s Officer, Black Minority Ethnic (BME) Officer and a Men’s Officer. They advertised the roles as a ‘movement for the removal of discrimination and oppression of groups within society’.

Okay, fair enough. I can totally accept that women and people from BME backgrounds have been discriminated against. But I wonder what was the rationalisation behind the need for a men’s officer position.

Men are not oppressed, especially not at the university in question. Men hold some of the highest positions: the CEO is a man, the Vice-Chancellor is also a man and the majority of the directorate are men.

On top of this, it is the first year in more than a decade that a woman has become the president of UWE’s students’ union.

One in seven female students experience some form serious assault or sexual assault during university. Meanwhile, 68% experience some kind of verbal or non-verbal harassment. Women face undeniable sexism at university and a Women’s Officer role is most certainly warranted and justified.

So, why exactly is there a need for a Men’s Officer role?

Well, apparently it has been put in place to ‘ensure that the men’s perspective is taken into consideration’. However, this is not what students want and it is not what they voted for. Last year, UWE students were asked to vote on a motion to introduce a Men’s Officer. The motion overwhelmingly failed with the majority of voters saying that they ‘strongly disagreed’ with the proposal.

‘Men are not oppressed’

It seems as if the students’ wishes have been ignored, leaving many wondering how the role has been pushed through so quickly considering it took three years of campaigning for the Women’s Officer to be finally introduced.

It’s hardly surprising that people aren’t happy about it. In retaliation to the new ‘liberation’ role, UWE students have launched a campaign to fight against it called ‘In R.O.N We Trust’.

The campaign wishes to ‘highlight UWE’s undemocratic decision’ regarding the introduction of the men’s officer post.

A facebook page has been launched to campaign against the Men’s Officer role

Support for the group is rapidly growing with just under 300 likes on their Facebook page in under 24 hours (this number has surged to 529 likes).

Speaking plainly, the role has been created because men have higher suicide and drop out rates, but the university already has a Community and Welfare Vice President in place to help open discussions on mental health and tackle issues. So what are the remaining purposes for the Men’s Officer role?

Student unions should be championing the voices of the oppressed and marginalised – these are LGBT+, disabled, women and black students. Certainly not men.

Disclaimer: Views, thoughts and opinions expressed on this article solely belong to the other and does not represent the views of Unified as an organisation.
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Rebecca Sheeres

Rebecca is Unified’s Features Editor and a third year Multimedia Journalism student. Her work has been featured on KentLive, Kent Online and Culture Trip. She also co-hosts CSRfm’s Sunday Best show and is an equal rights activist.

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