University and College Union equality conferences are held exclusively for women, LGBT, ethnic minorities or disabled people, and members must declare their “protected characteristic” when applying to attend.
Surely UCU can see the irony of hosting an equality conference where – as George Orwell wrote – some are more equal than others?
[. . .]
Britain is a country where less than one in 10 CEOs are women in FTSE 100 companies.
Ethnic minorities are still underrepresented in parliament.
These are all issues which desperately need addressing.
However, excluding straight, white men from taking part in these conferences completely undermines their point.
How are people expected to tackle minority issues when, in the most crass manner, one of the root causes of that problem is specifically excluded from participating – as though it didn’t exist?
It is also incredibly ignorant to suggest that white men cannot – and don’t want to – fight for equality.
As Northumbria University lecturer Emma-Jane Phillips, who sits on the UCU equality committee, told the Times Higher Education magazine: “It is ridiculous that people who regard equality as their life can’t attend our equality conference. Equality reps are passionate about equality regardless of their own situation. To infer that someone does not understand someone’s situation just because you don’t tick a box is insulting.”
By excluding this group, UCU is only strengthening the divide.
That is not the way to tackle inequality, and it’s absurd that UCU thinks it is.
Straight White Men Banned From Equality Conference
By Cat Reid
12:22 pm, June 7, 2016