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Oxford University Student’s Union abolishes women’s officer position

Oxford University’s Student’s Union (OUSU) has announced that from 2023 onwards it will be abolishing the role of Vice President for Women, replacing it with a Liberation and Equalities Representative.

The decision was made as part of a wider move by the Union to “reshuffle” its sabbatical roles.

The OUSU is led by an elected President and five Vice-Presidents: Vice-President for Access and Academic Affairs, Vice-President for Charities and Community, Vice-President for Graduates, and Vice-President for Women.

From September 2023, however, these roles will be replaced by: Vice-President for Activities and Community, Vice-President for Undergraduate Education and Access, Vice-President for Welfare and Vice-President for Liberation and Equalities.

The OUSU stated that the “VP [for] Women prioritises one minority / protected group over others” and insisted that the role has “not been replaced but augmented to include more underrepresented and marginalised communities who currently do not have sufficient representation”.

However, current VP for Women, Ellie Greaves, expressed concerns that women’s issues could “fall into the background” if the new Liberation and Equalities Representative chose to shift focus to other groups.

An unnamed female student told Cherwell (Oxford’s student newspaper) that the decision felt like “a slap in the face, not only for women, but all minority groups for lack of proper representation in the SU.”

This is not the first time the role of VP for Women in the OUSU has been criticised. Most famously, former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss campaigned to abolish the role during her own time at Oxford, calling it “patronising and sexist”.

The OUSU has claimed that the role “was created at a time when women couldn’t get full degrees and colleges were segregated”.

The OUSU did not have a VP for Women until 1990, while Oxford University had its first female graduates in 1920.


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