Nominations for Newcastle’s NUS delegates will have to be re-opened later in the year in order for the delegation to meet NUS’ representation requirements.
NUS voted in 2014 to ensure that all students’ unions send delegations that include “at least 50% self-defining women, rounded down”. This means that three of Newcastle’s six places at the NUS National Conference must be filled by self-defining women. However, none of the current candidates self define as women.
Elections are held every November to elect five of the six NUSU delegates, with the NUSU President automatically taking the other place. Since Dom Fearon, this year’s NUSU President, self-defines as a man, there are only two places left for the four candidates currently standing.
NUS regulations state that if there are not enough self-defining women in the delegation by the registration deadline in March next year, none of NUSU’s delegates will be eligible to attend.
Fearon said: “I am very surprised that no self-defining women were interesting in attending NUS Conference. Female engagement with the Students’ Union is higher than male, and female satisfaction with NUSU is 10% higher. In the past five years we have had more delegates self-defining as women than men so this is definitely out of the ordinary.”
Last year there were three self-defining women in NUSU’s delegation, including the then-President, Claire Boothman.
Fearon continued: “Since we have previously had more women delegates than men we haven’t found it necessary to specifically target women before now.
“I will be having discussions with Lucy Morgan (the NUSU Gender Equality Officer) to discuss how to make our female students aware of the importance of having their views represented at NUS conference. Hopefully when we reopen nominations in February we will have a plethora of applications.”
Morgan said: “NUSU should actively be trying to engage more women in Newcastle student politics. The fact that no women at all have ran for it highlights the need for NUS’ fair representation policy in the first place.
“I hope when nominations re-open there will be a more concerted and clarified effort to encourage more women and I will of course be promoting it through the Feminist Society and my role as Gender Equality Officer.”