It’s been a hard news cycle for women this month. Whether on campus or the worldwide stage, women have been let down in every way systemically and societally possible. Although as a student newspaper we don’t have the influence to change the news cycle in the way that we’d like, we have a platform nonetheless. We want to use this platform to advocate what we believe to be right.
This issue of The Glasgow Guardian has uncovered systemic failures in institutional policy at the Queen Margaret Union regarding sexual harassment, despite the Union’s radical, campaigning and feminist legacy. If the QMU has any hopes of justifying its existence on campus and maintain that legacy, it must seriously consider updating its policy to a standard that not only is consistent with rest of the University of Glasgow’s standards, but exceeds them.
It’s been made clear to us that the Queen Margaret Union’s current policy regarding sexual misconduct is not fit for purpose. It’s also clear that the world’s policy regarding sexual misconduct is not fit for purpose.
We want to make it abundantly clear, as an editorial team, that The Glasgow Guardian is unwaveringly on the side of survivors. Not only do we oppose a persisting culture that allows men to walk free from the consequences of their actions, but we also oppose any system that emboldens them. In our view, the Queen Margaret Union has not only made no attempt to challenge this culture by failing to have any policy whatsoever pertaining to it, but they have hidden behind their legacy and hoped against hope that they would never be held to account.
That being said, after speaking to Durkin (Queen Margaret Union’s current President), we do believe that she sincerely wants to instigate change within the Union. She seemed to be genuinely frustrated with the hand-tying bureaucracy that’s prevented any change being made thus far. Still, that bureaucracy is a curse of the Union’s own making, and their long-term failure to act will leave little solace to any previous complainants that have been let down by the QMU’s non-existent sexual misconduct policy.
Many of us felt let down by the reality of the Queen Margaret Union when we arrived at Glasgow University – its legacy certainly encouraged us to attend most of their Freshers’ Week events a few years ago. Now, though, we find ourselves frequenting the GUU and only stopping by the QMU for a convenient cash machine or the occasional concert. The Union has done nothing to encourage our loyalty or enthusiasm – some of us have even faced similar bureaucracy and indifference when making board members aware of our own experiences of sexual misconduct by high-ranking members of the Union.
We really do hope, for the sake of the Union’s future, that Durkin follows through on her commitment to making radical changes to the QMU’s policy.
We are living in a climate wherein women can make credible, intelligible claims against powerful men and that man can still be appointed to the highest court of the most powerful country in the world. High-profile men are consistently and unceremoniously given a slap on the wrist then welcomed back into public life with open arms (looking at you, Louis CK and Johnny Depp). We wouldn’t blame you if the current news cycle has left you feeling hopeless – you’d be forgiven for mistaking the news lately for a scene from The Handmaid’s Tale.
It’s hard to find anything hopeful to say when writing this editorial. We’ve all seen thousands of women, men and children taking to the streets all over the world to protest and try to change things for the better. All we ask is that you keep reading and keep protesting. The time has passed for our protest to be palatable; no longer should we be afraid that if we get too radical, we may damage our cause. Nothing short of a complete cultural overhaul will do at this point.
To make a report to the University, which can be anonymous, follow: https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/students/safetyhealth/reportandsupport/