It has come to the attention of myself and the officer team at YUSU that the University’s decision to withdraw from recognising International Men’s Day on 19th November has raised concerns regarding equality within the student body, both from the point of view of those in favour of the initiative and against.
The University of York’s Equality and Diversity committee is clear that the main focus of their gender equality work should continue to be on the inequalities faced by women, and in particular the under-representation of women in the professoriate and senior management. Having had concerns raised about International Men’s day, the university made the decision to cancel activity around the event.
At YUSU, through our liberation networks, we actively support students in striving for equality and champion the successes a diverse and united student body can achieve. We’re proud that our Women’s Network have campaigned hard on women’s specific issues, for example, this term York Students’ have really got behind the campaign against the ‘Tampon Tax’ which has resulted in the provision of cost price sanitary products in the YUSU shop.
It is, however, extremely important that we recognise the issues in life and society that specifically and disproportionately affect men, such as higher suicide rates, an under provision of mental health services, lower life expectancy and homelessness. These issues are worthy of campaign and awareness should be built, but the format for this has to be considered. We know the awareness day was well intentioned but on this occasion the format and the communication was wrong. The University has agreed to work closer with us in the future to ensure the voices and concerns of our students are heard loud and clear in conversation and action on equality issues.