Representation issue hotly debated

A section of the audience. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
A section of the audience. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
Transgender representation became one of the hotly contested issues in yesterday's Women's Week debate at the Otago University Student Association's Union Hall.

The debate was centred on whether a gender representative should replace a women's representative on the OUSA executive committee.

Only women are able to vote for and be elected as the women's representative on the OUSA committee.

Transgender and male students' issues are taken care of by the welfare representative.

Debating for the negative side, Emma Keast and Stephanie Reader argued against a gender representative replacing a women's representative position.

They said issues of violence against women and disparities in the workplace meant it was still necessary to have a representative solely for women.

Emma Keast argues for keeping a women's representative.
Emma Keast argues for keeping a women's representative.
"Can a man effectively represent women? How approachable would they be around sensitive areas like domestic violence and rape?" Ms Keast asked.

Arguing for the affirmative, Neal Barber and Danielle Duffield said a gender representative would be a fairer way of dealing with students' gender-related issues.

They argued men also suffered because of gender stereotypes and having a women's representative further entrenched subservient stereotypes.

"People often forget men are also subject to societal pressure because of masculinity concepts," Mr Barber said.

The affirmative side won the debate, but adjudicator Hana Nyhof said it was not about which team came out on top.

Danielle Duffield argues in favour of a gender representative.
Danielle Duffield argues in favour of a gender representative.
"The debate was a chance to generate dialogue on the controversial topic."

The current women's representative, Claire Jackson said she still believed there were women's equity issues that needed to be addressed.

"There is still a role to be played by the women's representative, and we do look after men's problems, too."

The current executive committee has no plans to change the current position to a gender representative.

Women have been on the executive committee since 1914.

The only entirely male student committee was elected in 1971.

Women's Week is an annual event aimed at creating awareness about women's equity issues.

 

Add a Comment