USI amassed all policy in the previous LGBT, Gender Equality, International Students and Mature Students areas into one policy area in the late 2000s. All current policy is here.

15 EQ 1 Women in Leadership

Congress notes

that motion 14/EQ9 stated: “That women are still significantly under-represented in Student Union politics, as well as politics nationally. Only 20% of Presidents are women in USI member colleges are women. Only 33% of UK Students Union Presidents are women. In the Dáil Éireann the representation of women in even worse. Only 15% of TDs are women. In local councils across Ireland the representation of women is below 20%. In Northern Ireland, only 19% of MLAs in Stormont are women Ireland ranks 23rd out of 27 EU countries for their percentage of women in parliament.

Congress acknowledges

that significant work has been undertaken by MOs in empowering women to run for leadership positions in the past year.

Congress applauds

the fantastic job USI Pink Training does in empowering members of the student LGBT community to run for SU leadership and also the grassroots engagement that exposes USI to a new generation of Student Leaders.

Congress calls for

the USI to expand the Women In Leadership campaign.

Congress mandates

the USI Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to take the template provided by USI Pink Training and adapt it to create a weekend training event with the aim of empowering Women not only in their SU’s but in their college, community and careers.

 

15 EQ2 Dignity and Respect

That Sabbatical teams can be diverse in their constitution.

Congress Further Notes

That Sabbatical Officers may not be immediately cognisant of potential issues that might affect their colleagues in the workplace, e.g. sexism and homophobia.

Congress believes

That all Sabbatical Officers should feel safe and respected in their working environments.

Congress theref

ore mandates

The VP Equality & Citizenship to provide Dignity and Respect Training for all Sabbatical Officer during SUT /SUT+

 

15 EQ3 MSM Blood Ban in Northern Ireland

Congress notes:

In September 2011 the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales announced that regulations banning the donation of blood by Gay and Bisexual men would be lifted, and allow for implementing a one-year deferral period instead. This decision comes after the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SABTO) carried out a review and found it could no longer support the permanent exclusion of men who have had sex with men from blood donation.

Congress further notes:

That this change in regulation did not extend to Northern Ireland, despite it being part of the UK, and that despite multiple court cases where it was ruled that the Northern Ireland Minister for Health was unjustified in their refusal to alter the MSM Blood Ban and was “infected by apparent bias” the lifetime blood ban still remains for MSM, while a 12 month blood ban is in place for WSMSM

Congress believes that:

The Northern Irish MSM Blood Ban is discriminatory against members of the LGBT+ Community and is founded on nothing more than inherent bias and bigotry.

Congress mandates:

The VP Equality & Citizenship to actively campaign to call for an end to this discriminatory ban in Northern Ireland.

Congress also mandates:

The VP Equality & Citizenship to offer their unconditional support and resource to collaborate with the NUS-USI LGBT Officer regarding the ongoing campaign to remove the ban on MSM Blood Donation in the North.

 

15 EQ4 Reproductive rights and gender identity

Congress notes

It is not only those who identify as women who require full reproductive autonomy. Members of the trans* community and those who do not identify with binary genders also require access to reproductive healthcare.

Congress mandates

The VP Equality and Citizenship to ensure this is acknowledged in campaigning for abortion rights.

 

15 EQ6 Campaigning for an Island of equals

Congress believes:

  • That across the island of Ireland there are still a number of barriers to a truly egalitarian society
  • In the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, our governments have been slow to address serious of issues of inequality, many of which are still written into our legislation.
  • The fight for an island of equals is the responsibility of every citizen.

 

Congress further believes:

  • Students across the island are at the forefront of campaigning of on issues of equality such as abortion rights and reproductive justice, equal marriage and against the MSM blood ban.
  • Women students, LGBT students, Disabled students and Black students in our institutions all face discrimination both in their time at college and in wider society.
  • Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism have no place in the Ireland that we envision.
  • Cross-border solidarity between students is a cornerstone of the student movement on across the island and that our power as a campaigning voice comes from our unity.

 

Congress mandates:

  • The USI officer board to ensure equality issues are at the heart of a campaign influencing candidates and voters before the general election
  • The VP Equality and Citizenship and VP Campaigns to work with the NUS-USI President and the relevant liberation officers in Northern Ireland to support campaigns in the struggle for equality.
  • The USI officer board to support NUS-USI and students’ unions in the north in the campaigns before the General Election 2015 and Assembly election 2016.

 

14 EQ 1         WORKING WITH MATURE STUDENTS

Congress notes:

The direct benefit for mature students attending The Mature Student Convention.

Congress further notes:

That the convention being held at a national or regional level is often inaccessible for mature students.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship, the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance and the Vice President for Welfare to work on a joint online campaign aimed at providing specific information and skills training for mature students.

Congress further notes:

The benefits of mature students networking at a regional and national level.

Congress further mandates:

The Vice President for Equality to create an online forum for mature students.

 

14 EQ 2         WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP

Congress believes:

That women are still significantly under-represented in Student Union politics, as well as politics nationally.

Only 20% of Presidents are women in USI member colleges are women.

Only 33% of UK Students Union Presidents are women.

In the Dáil Éireann the representation of women in even worse. Only 15% of TDs are women. In local councils across Ireland the representation of women is below 20%.

In Northern Ireland, only 19% of MLAs in Stormont are women

Ireland ranks 23rd out of 27 EU countries for their percentage of women in parliament.

Congress also believes:

Despite forming a majority of students in higher and further education, women are under-represented in powerful positions in colleges and students’ union.

Women’s representation in colleges and students’ unions is vital to women’s equality and to overcoming the inequality and discrimination that women face.

Congress mandates:

The USI President and the VP Equality and Citizenship, to run a national campaign supporting and empower women in leadership and create a support network in order to encourage more women candidates to run for election.

The USI President and the VP Equality and Citizenship to campaign on increasing the number of women who run for all sabbatical positions, all student councillors and voluntary roles within students unions.

The VP Equality and Citizenship to make links with the NUS-USI and the NUS Women’s Campaign and work together to encourage women in leadership.

 

14 EQ 3         MARRIAGE EQUALITY

Congress notes:

USI policy 12/EQ4 mandates USI Officers to campaign for equal access to civil marriage in Ireland.

Congress also notes:

That the Government have committed to holding a referendum on marriage equality in Ireland in 2015.

Congress believes:

That equal access to civil marriage in Ireland is one of the most important civil rights issues of our generation and that the students of this country have a valuable role to play in making this a reality.

Congress adopts:

The ‘Students for Marriage Equality 2015’ campaign strategy document as USI policy.

Congress mandates:

All of USI Officer Board to implement the actions in ‘Students for Marriage Equality 2015’ strategy.

Congress also mandates:

The USI President, the USI Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship and the USI Vice-President for Campaigns to oversee the implementation of the ‘Students for Marriage Equality 2015’ strategy and to report to every National Council in lead up to the referendum on the progress of the campaign.

 

 

14 EQ 4         LGBT* FRIENDLY CAMPUS

Congress notes:

That many institutions do not have an official stance on being a LGBTQ Friendly campus.

Congress applauds:

The promotion of equality and anti-discrimination nationally.

Congress believes:

USI could work with LGBTQ organisations in the development of criteria that would deem colleges to be “LGBTQ Friendly campuses”.

Congress further believes:

That this could be rewarded with national recognition and that this would be of benefit to colleges marketing for second level students.

Congress mandates:

VP for Equality and Citizenship, Campaigns officer and regional officers to work with LGBTQ organisations in developing a framework that could be applied to colleges in order to give them a “LGBTQ Friendly Campus” status.

 

14 EQ 5         REGIONAL LGBT TRAINING EVENT

Congress commends:

The good work completed by the Vice President for Equality and Citizenship along with USI and Students’ Unions nationally on the organisation of Pink Training.

Congress notes:

The importance of Pink Training and the potential value of another event of this nature on a regional basis.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship and the regional vice presidents to work with various LGBT societies to organise regional LGBT training events each year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 EQ 1         ADVOCATING FOR STUDENT SERVICES THAT ARE INCLUSIVE REGARDING THE REGISTRATION AND TREATMENT OF LGBT STUDENTS

Congress acknowledges:

Every student’s right to equal access to Student Services in third level institutions.

Congress believes:

That Students’ Unions have a vital role to play in advocating for the recognition and realisation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights. This can include educating students’ services and ensuring that LGBT persons have opportunities to express and disclose their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression when registering, accessing and availing of these services.

Congress notes with concern:

The negative impact that limited registration forms can have on people who identify as an orientation or gender identity which is not included on forms and that this can reflect                 a lack of awareness of these issues by service providers. This may cause students to feel isolated when registering, accessing and availing of services on campus and this may deter students from using these services.

Congress mandates:

The Vice president for Equality and Citizenship to work with Students’ Unions to advocate that students’ services teams, including healthcare professionals and counsellors, are educated and inclusive regarding LGBT rights and experiences. This may include organising and/or providing training if necessary.

Congress also mandates:

The Vice president for Equality and Citizenship to advocate that registration forms for accessing students’ services acknowledge diverse identifications in the fields of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression e.g. “what is your preferred pronoun” rather than “Him/Her Male/Female”.

 

13 EQ 3         EQUITY OF ACCESS TO USI NATIONAL COUNCIL

Congress commends:

The Vice President of Equality and Citizenship on the creation of an equality policy for National Council.

Congress notes:

There have been issues raised this year regarding the equity of access of officers to National Council based on the scheduling of council dates.

 

Congress further notes:

The equality policy was voted on and passed unanimously at National Council but there has been no implementation by National Council of this policy since it was passed.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President of Equality and Citizenship to review the equality policy when they first enter office. This review should take into consideration what measurements need to be in place to ensure the equality policy is put into action. The review also needs to ensure that USI National Council is accessible as possible to the officers elected nationally to represent their students.

 

13 EQ 5         NEGOTIATION OF MATURE STUDENT/ESTRANGED STUDENT FINANCIAL ACCOUNT(S)

Congress notes:

The growing financial difficulties across the board for all students.

Congress further notes:

The difficulties facing many mature students, and students that have been estranged from their parents/guardians, in gaining an indemnifier for the purposes of loan guarantor.  This would also incorporate students that are returning to education to help better themselves but have existing bad credit due to numerous extenuating circumstances. For example bad credit, mortgage arrears, job loss etc.

Congress stresses:

The USI is mandated to be a free fees organisation and should not change stance on this. The motion proposed will serve to ensure equal access to financial loans for students that need such to fund their Higher Level education.

Congress mandates:

The President and other relevant officers to engage with an appropriate lending institution(s) to negotiate an account which will ensure equal access to banking facilities regardless of age and/or domestic situations for all students.

 

13 EQ 6         SECTION 37 EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY ACT

Congress notes:

Under   current Irish legislation – Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act allows school managements to discriminate against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender employees by taking ‘reasonably necessary’ action either by firing or refusing to hire them on the basis that they ‘undermine’ the religious ethos of the denominational school.

 

Congress further notes:

Union of Students in Ireland is a representative body of over 275,000 students – many of whom are LGBT and many of whom feel negatively affected by this legislation.

Congress believes:

This legislation is outdated and discriminatory by nature.

Congress further believes:

Thousands of LGBT students are aspiring teachers who may feel they cannot have a fulfilling career due to this legislation. Section 37 serves as a way of making LGBT students feel uncomfortable in the workplace and deters many LGBT students from pursuing careers in the teaching sector of Ireland.

Congress mandates:

The USI Campaigns Officer and USI VP for Equality and Citizenship to actively campaign for the repeal of Section 37, raising awareness among students, and contacting the relevant bodies such as Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland and other organisations to seek and show support for the campaign.

 

13 EQ 7         EQUALITY CAMPAIGNS FOR SINGLE FATHERS IN IRELAND

Congress commends:

The good work completed by the Vice President of equality and citizenship on raising equality and citizenship issues in the public domain.

Congress notes:

The work of USI in this area sees a very positive impact on different vulnerable stakeholders nationally and internationally by highlighting the facts while fighting their cause.

Congress further notes:

Single fathers make up a segment of the students represented by USI and the voice of these students is often overlooked politically.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President of Equality and Citizenship to meet with representatives of these students and to work on a campaign to highlight their issues. This should take place in the first semester of the year.

13 EQ 9         USI EQUALITY POLICY

Congress notes:

That USI National Council adopted an interim Equality policy for the organisation in September

  1. This policy was drawn up by the Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship with advice from the Equality Authority.

Congress believes:

That it is important that the Union of Students in Ireland has an Equality Policy in place which states its commitment to equality and diversity and outlines the measures that USI Officer Board will take to ensure that principles of equality pervade the work of the organisation.

Congress therefore adopts:

The USI Equality Policy as adopted by the USI National Council in the 2012-2013 session.

(Put this into the Congress Pack as a policy to be adopted, not in the Clár)

USI Equality Policy

The Union of Students in Ireland is an inclusive organisation that values equality and diversity.

Services provided by the Union of Students in Ireland are available to all areas of the membership who will be supported to be equally able to access them.

As an employer, the Union of Students in Ireland will not tolerate any form of direct and indirect discrimination.

This policy is developed in line with the Equality Acts (Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2011 & Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2011) prohibiting discrimination, including sexual harassment and harassment, victimisation and reasonable accommodation for customers with disabilities.

 

  1. Equalities Statement:

The Union of Students in Ireland adopts the following Equalities Statement which Officers and staff and any person working with the Union of Students in Ireland is expected to support and uphold:

The Union of Students in Ireland recognises that discrimination can and does occur and that it can be direct, indirect or institutional. The Union of Students in Ireland is committed to adopting equal opportunities policies and procedures as an employer and service provider in order to combat discrimination and value diversity. The Union of Students in Ireland will not tolerate discrimination based on gender, civil status, family status, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion, membership of the Traveller community, gender expression, gender identity, country of origin, socio-economic background. The first nine grounds are those specifically mentioned by the Equality Acts but discrimination can occur also on other characteristics.

The Union of Students in Ireland reserves the right to add to these groups at any time.

The  Union of Students in Ireland will seek to ensure that other companies from whom it has contracted to receive goods and services are aware that this policy is in place and that these companies are expected to comply with it or add equality clauses to the contract of service. Contracts for goods and services will be suspended if the contractor engages in sexual harassment, harassment or discrimination against customers or employees of this organisation.

The Union of Students in Ireland will take measures to combat inequality where necessary based on the characteristics identified in the Equalities statement. The organisation will strive to eliminate barriers that prevent members accessing the Union’s services and will ensure that reasonable accommodation is made for students with disabilities.

The Union of Students in Ireland encourages active participation from students in relation to the characteristics outlined in the Equalities Statement.

The Union of Students in Ireland is committed to the effective communication of this policy to:

  • All staff and elected officers of USI Officer Board,
  • Member Organisations,
  • Students,
  • Business contacts

 

This will be done through:

  • Publication and dissemination of the policy,
  • Display of this policy on the USI website and in public areas of the organisation,
  • Reference to the policy in business contracts,
  • Reference to the policy in information

All staff employed should cooperate with the development and implementation of policies, procedures and practices to eliminate discrimination, accommodate diversity and promote equality for students. This requirement will be included in contracts of employment for all staff.

Training will be made available to all of USI Officer Board and staff in relation to the Equality Acts (Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2011 & Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2011).

The President of the Union of Students in Ireland and all of USI Officer Board has responsibility for upholding and implementing this policy.

This policy will be reviewed at the end of each academic year by USI Officer Board and any changes will be subject to approval by USI Congress.

 

13 EQ 10       COLLECTIVE BARGAINING LEGISLATION

Congress notes:

The commitment to legislating for collective bargaining agreed in the Programme for Government and the lack of movement on this.

Congress notes with concern:

The Campus.ie survey which claims that 35% of students in part time jobs feel it has negatively impacted on their studies.

Congress further notes with concern:

The United Nations’ Human Rights Council’s condemnation of the absence of collective bargaining legislation in Ireland.

Congress believes:

That every worker should have the option to join and be represented by a trade union without victimisation and that Ireland’s failure to enact such legislation is a violation of the Right to Freedom of Association and the Right to Organise.

Congress acknowledges:

That by being a member of a unionized workforce, students in part time employment are more likely to be aware of their rights as workers and therefore, less likely to be exploited. Furthermore, students are mostly employed in areas where exploitation is most common.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to lobby for the introduction of collective bargaining legislation that will lead to better working conditions for students and for this to be completed the end of 2013.

 

13 EQ 11       USI TO CAMPAIGN FOR EQUALITY BUDGETING IN IRELAND

Congress notes:

That a large body of recent research, both Irish and international, suggests that more equal societies fare better across a range of social outcomes, including education, health, crime and almost every conceivable area of human life.

Congress acknowledges:

That Equality Budgeting is an approach to economic policy-making that places equality at the centre of decisions concerning public expenditure and income. Through equality audits and impact assessments, Equality Budgeting provides information on how different sections of society are impacted by specific economic policy measures. The objective of Equality Budgeting is to ensure this information is used to reduce inequalities and to achieve the best equality outcomes for specific disadvantaged groups, but also for society at large. Over 60 countries have implemented or worked towards Equality Budgeting.

Congress notes:

With concern that while some progress was made in Ireland toward Equality Budgeting, particularly with a focus on gender, much of this was subsequently reversed with the weakening of the Gender Mainstreaming Unit in the Department of Justice since 2008, inaction on the implementation of the National Women’s Strategy, and the more general dismantling of the equality infrastructure in Ireland that has been on-going since the beginning of the economic crisis.

Congress recognises:

The 2011 TASC Report Eliminating Health Inequalities – A Matter of Life and Death, which suggests that inequality in Ireland is endemic, with 2009 figures suggesting that the top decile of Irish Society had incomes which were 11 times those of the bottom decile. The report also found a strong correlation between income levels and education levels, with those in the bottom decile most educationally disadvantaged.

Congress affirms:

Its commitment to the defence and promotion of all human rights as per the USI Constitution. The endemic inequality experienced by the citizens of this country against the achievement and realisation of the type of Ireland that the Union of Students in Ireland’s principles could lead to.

Congress believes:

That it is vitally important that the Government is always acutely aware of the long-term impact of the policies they enact.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship and all of USI Officer Board to lend their full support to the Equality Budgeting campaign in Ireland and to lobby the Irish Government to introduce Equality Budgeting for Budget 2014.

 

13 EQ 12       USI LGBT ALLY CAMPAIGN

Congress notes:

The high level of student engagement with the USI LGBT Ally initiative and the effectiveness of this initiative at raising awareness of student support for LGBT rights and also of LGBT issues in Ireland.

Congress believes:

That this initiative should be continued and expanded by working with other organisations and by seeking funding for the campaign.

Congress also believes:

That there is potential to extend this campaign into wider society, outside of higher education institutions and that USI could look to engage businesses and service providers in this campaign. The expansion of this campaign could also be extended to secondary schools.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to seek sponsorship and funding for USI’s LGBT Ally campaign.

Congress also mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to engage with and seek endorsement and/or support from the following list, but not limited to this list, in relation to the campaign:

Association of Secondary School Teachers, Ireland;

All members of the Oireachtas;

The Irish Medical Organisation;

Irish National Teachers’ Organisation;

Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy;

Gay Doctors Ireland;

Transgender Equality Network Ireland;

BeLonGTo;

LGBT Noise;

Marriage Equality;

SpunOut.ie;

The National Youth Council of Ireland;

The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union;

The Board of Irish College Societies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 EQ 1         USI SEAT ON THE BOARD OF MATURE STUDENTS IRELAND

Congress notes:

That this year the Equality officer has obtained a seat on the board of Mature Students Ireland.

Congress further notes:

The importance of this seat for maintaining good links with Mature Student Support Staff in all our Higher education institutions.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Equality Citizenship Officer to seek re-election to this board on a yearly basis.

 

12 EQ 2         LONGITUDINAL SURVEY OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

Congress notes:

The 2010 Survey of Students with disabilities which was facilitated by USI and Ahead.

Congress further notes:

The importance of continuing a similar survey on yearly basis. This will allow us to evaluate how services are changing for students with disabilities across the country on a yearly basis. This will allow us to campaign and lobby more effectively.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Equality and Citizenship Vice president to work with ahead to conduct this survey on a yearly basis.

 

12 EQ 3         INTERNATIONAL STUDENT TRAINING DVD

Congress notes:

That this year USI has begun an extensive project in conjunction with ICOS, Irish Council for International Students and the Department of Education and Skills.

Congress further notes:

How important this project is for training staff working with international students in the HEI sector.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Equality and citizenship Vice president to continue to work on this project as a major aspect of their work over the coming year.

 

 

12 EQ 4         LGBT

Congress notes with grave concern:

That despite our claims to be a progressive nation we do not recognise the rights of LGBT members of the community as being fully and unequivocally equal to those of heterosexual orientation.

Congress further notes:

The failure to recognise equality in our legislation undeniably leads to a failure to see people as equals in our classrooms, our lecture theatres, our campuses and our workplaces.

Congress believes:

This failure to lead both directly and indirectly to a lesser standard of living for members of the LGBT community. That it leads to the denial of rights to children raised by same sex parents and to gross negligence on the part of the state by indirectly condoning bullying and torment for people who identify as LGBT.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President and the Campaigns officer to vehemently campaign on the full equalisation of rights regardless of sexual orientation, for full and equal marriage rights, full and equal adoption rights and for this Union to recognise LGBT members as full and equal members of society in recognition of the rights as laid out above.

Proposed amendment:

Under the  sub  heading  ‘Congress  therefore  mandates’,  remove  ‘The President   &  the Campaigns Officer’ and replace with ‘The President, the Vice-President for Campaigns and the Vice-President for Equality & Citizenship’.

12 EQ 5         STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES

Congress notes:

The excellent work done by USI in the area of representation for students with disabilities.

Congress further notes:

That, in the past, campaigns re students with disabilities have tended to focus primarily on students with physical disabilities.

Congress notes with regret:

The lack of attention which has been paid during this campaigning to students with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, autism, etc.

 

 

Congress further notes with concern:

That, for students with learning disabilities, services in universities and institutes of technology can be sorely lacking in some cases, thus placing a great barrier between such students and their access to education.

Congress reaffirms the notion:

That every student has a right to access to third-level education.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to co-ordinate campaigns before March in each academic year on support services for students with learning disabilities and to lobby the Minister for Education to improve support services for students in these areas.

 

12 EQ 6         GENDER RECOGNITION LEGISLATION

Congress notes:

That the Government’s commitment to introducing Gender Recognition Legislation is overdue and an important step in improving the lives of many Transgender people in Ireland.

 

Congress believes:

That the recommendations presented to the Minister for Social Protection by the Gender Recognition Advisory Group (GRAG) do not contain many of the concerns and issues raised by USI and other groups such as Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) and are not in line with the Yogyakarta Principles.

Congress further believes:

That the Irish Government has an opportunity to introduce Gender Recognition Legislation that is fair and reflects the real life lived experiences of many Transgender people in Ireland.

Congress mandates:

The VP for Equality and Citizenship and the VP for Campaigns to campaign for Gender Recognition Legislation that will reflect the real life lived experiences of Transgender people in Ireland and is line with the Yogyakarta Principles.

 

12 EQ 7         LGBT MENTAL HEALTH

Congress notes:

That the results of the Supporting LGBT Lives Study of 2009 showed serious issues for LGBT people in Ireland with regards to mental health and bullying.

 

Congress notes with concern:

That these results showed that “Almost 20 per cent of gay, lesbian, bisexual and Transgender people have attempted suicide and almost all saw this as related to their sexual identity and the experiences of being abused and feeling isolated”

Congress further notes:

The high levels of self harming within the young LGBT community and the levels of homophobia that still exist in many areas of Irish society.

Congress mandates:

That the VP for Equality and Citizenship and the VP Welfare engage with various LGBT organisations like BeLonG To, TENI and GLEN and develop policies for LGBT mental health and best practice for promotion of positive mental health for LGBT people.

 

12 EQ 8         DIRECT ENGAGEMENT WITH STUDENTS ON LGBT CAMPAIGNS

Congress notes:

The important role the LGBT Campaign within USI has played in the on-going fight for equal rights for all LGBT people in Ireland and the world.

Congress further notes:

That through events such as USI Pink Training the LGBT Campaign has always been effective with engaging with students on grassroots level.

Congress notes in particular:

Campaigns focusing on Civil Marriage, the MSM Blood Ban, anti-homophobia and Gender Recognition Legislation campaigning have been successful but are still active and must remain so.

Congress believes:

That following the changes to the USI constitution and the merger of the LGBT Rights Officer Position into VP Equality and Citizenship role in order to continue the impact the course of LGBT rights in this country it is vital that forward planning takes place for the future LGBT Campaigns in consultation with students on a grassroots level.

Congress mandates:

The VP Equality and Citizenship and VP Campaigns to write a campaign plan for the LGBT Campaign year at the beginning of every term.

Congress further mandates:

The VP Equality and Citizenship to hold consultation days in early July with LGBT students to access what the relevant campaign issues are for that year and to devise the year plan in conjunction with the rest of the consultation.

12 EQ 9         GENDER NEUTRAL WELFARE CAMPAIGNS

Congress notes:

That gender and sexuality norms can have significant negative effects on some students particularly in the LGBT community.

Congress also notes:

That these norms can be reinforced and propagated unintentionally by USI publications such as the illustrations on the SHAG Week Packs for 2012

Congress believes:

That USI should lead by example in getting society to treat all students equally

Congress therefore mandates:

That Vice President for Welfare seek the advice of The Vice President for Equality &

Citizenship to ensure that USI welfare campaign materials are gender neutral, in advance of 5th February 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 EQ 1         LGBT AMBASSADORS

Congress notes:

That many second level educational institutions do not have a formal LGBT bullying policy.

Congress appreciates:

That access to third level education by students identifying themselves as from the LGBT committee is influenced by the experiences of those students at second level.

Congress understands:

That third level students acting as LGBT ambassadors to their own previous secondary schools will help promote understanding and acceptance of LGBT students in the second level education system.

Congress thus mandates the LGBTRO, Deputy President and the Education Officer of USI:

To co-ordinate the campaign to promote third level students as LGBT ambassadors in second level schools across the country.

 

11 EQ 2         LGBT STUDENT SURVEY

Congress notes:

There is very little statistical information about the experiences of LGBT people in third level education.

Congress further notes:

The serious lack of statistical information makes helping to improve the college experiences of LGBT students difficult.

Congress therefore mandates the LGBT Rights Officer:

To conduct a nationwide survey on the student experiences of LGBT students.

 

11 EQ 3         LGBT SOCIETY MANUAL

Congress notes:

There is a considerable lack of helpful resources for those trying to start up and run an LGBT society.

Congress believes:

It would greatly aid those wishing to run or establish an LGBT society if there was a comprehensive manual with information and resources for setting up and running society.

Congress therefore mandates the LGBT Rights Officer:

To produce a manual outlining ways to set up, run and maintain a successful LGBT society which

can be used by Student Unions as well as students.

Congress further mandates the LGBT Rights Officer:

To update the manual annually with any new information and to ensure it is ready for distribution in September when the new college year begins.

11 EQ 4         LGBT PACKS

Congress notes:

There is a serious lack of LGBT mental health, physical health and sexual health resources aimed directly at students in third level education.

Congress believes:

That an all round LGBT pack encompassing mental health and sexual health similar to the mental health packs and SHAG packs provided by USI to the general student body could drastically improve integration of LGBT students into the student body and improve awareness of the specific mental, physical and sexual health needs of LGBT students amongst non LGBT students.

Congress mandates the LGBT Rights Officer:

To develop and produce LGBT packs including information on mental health and sexual health for distribution in all COs.

 

11 EQ 5         DIRECT STUDENT ENGAGEMENT

Congress notes:

The effectiveness of the USI LGBT campaign in directly interacting with the USI membership through its links with student societies and USI Pink Training.

Congress believes:

The USI Equality campaign should follow a similar structure.

Congress mandates:

The Equality Officer to organise an annual intervarsity event for each of the equality sub sections.

Congress further mandates the Equality Officer:

To enhance links with existing equality based student societies and to foster the development of further equality related societies in each CO.

 

11 EQ 7         INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS IMMIGRATION REGULATIONS

Congress notes:

The new immigration rules which came into effect on the 1st of January 2011 which change immigration regulations for non-EEA students.

Congress further notes:

That there are some regressive part of these new regulations including:

  • The inability of international students who avail of the graduate employment scheme in Ireland to immediately return to post-graduate education in Ireland after completing the scheme.
  • The fact that non-EEA students who have dependents in Ireland are unable to use public first and second level schools for their dependents, which causes major problems for students,  particularly if their children are in primary school due to the small number of private first-level schools in Ireland.

Congress mandates the Equality Officer:

To work with the Irish Council for International Students to campaign and lobby for changes to be made to the immigration regulations in relation to the graduate employment scheme and the use of public schools for the dependents of international students.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 EQ 1         CIVIL PARTNERSHIP BILL

Congress notes:

That the proposed Civil Partnership Bill falls short of offering members of the LGBT community many of the same rights and responsibilities offered by Civil Marriage to the heterosexual community.

Congress further notes:

That as it currently stands the Bill is unacceptable to the LGBT community.

Congress recognizes:

That the LGBT campaign is an integral part of USI and many LGBT students would like to see a national campaign on this issue.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Deputy President, the Equality Officer and the LGBT Rights Officer to work together to roll out a national campaign highlighting the issue and to lobby the government on this issue.

Congress further mandates:

That the Deputy President, Equality Officer and LGBT RO work with other LGBT interest groups on the Civil Marriage campaign, for example LGBT NOISE and Marriage Equality.

 

10 EQ 2         MIGRANT STUDENTS

Congress notes:

That Erasmus, EU and non EEA (European Economic Area) students have access to dedicated support services in third level colleges.

Congress further notes:

That there are clear policy guidelines on issues affecting Erasmus, EU and non EEA students with regard student fees, leave to remain in Ireland and the right to work while studying.

Congress recognizes:

That the same level of service and policy does not exist for migrants, children of migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and/or children of same, some of whom are now completing primary and secondary education in Ireland.

Congress believes:

That these groups are entitled to receive a third level education in Ireland.

 

 

 

Congress mandates:

The Equality Officer to investigate what government and HEI policies exist in this area and to collate the responses in a position paper accompanied by suggestions for future actions. Such a position paper should be presented to National Council prior to Congress 2011.

 

10 EQ 3         STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

REAPPROVED 2015

Congress notes:

That in order to communicate with students with disabilities, the USI Equality Campaign is reliant on Disability Support Services and Access Offices in each third level campus. Union of Students in Ireland Annual Congress 2010 Comhdhail Bhliaintuil Aontas na Mac Leinn in Eirinn 2010 – 51 – – 51 –

Congress further notes:

That this year there have been significant difficulties in reaching out to students with disabilities in third level colleges.

Congress also notes:

That these difficulties are not specific to USI and are also experienced by other organisations working in this area.

Congress mandates:

The Equality Officer to make it a priority of 2010/2011 to design a system whereby USI Equality can connect directly with students with disabilities in third level and to seek assistance from members of Officer Board, USI staff and external organisations on how best to achieve this.

 

10 EQ 4 Communicating with Part Time Officers

Conference notes:

That part time officers exist in each CO who work in the area of equality

Conference also notes:

That these officers are elected at different times in different colleges and so it is difficult to organise a networking event at the beginning of the year

Conference believes:

Part time officers stand to gain a lot from being involved with the USI Equality Campaign

 

 

Conference mandates:

The Equality Officer to meet individually with relevant part time officers once they are elected and outline the positive benefits getting involved in USI Equality can have.

Conference also mandates:

The Equality Officer to maintain contact with part time officers by circulating a campaign update email once per fortnight

Conference further mandates:

The Equality Officer to compile a contact list for part time officers and to circulate this to Equality Working Group as early as possible in the year.

 

10 EQ 5         Negative Stereotypes in Irish Media

Conference notes:

That often minority groups are represented poorly in both national and local print media in Ireland.

Conference regrets:

That over the past 12 months there has been an increase in the number of such articles, in particular on the issue of access of third level education

Conference mandates:

The Equality Officer and all members of Equality Working to respond and counteract negative images and stereotypes of minority students in the media through letters to the editor of the publication involved.

 

10 EQ 6         Students Attitude to Equality

Conference notes:

The recent research by the Equality & Rights Alliance into Irish attitudes on equality.

Conference also notes:

The research is not specific to student attitudes

Conference believes:

That the Equality Campaign cannot be effective in campaigning on equality until it establishes what students think about the issues involved.

 

 

Conference mandates:

The Equality Officer to commission a nationwide student survey on attitudes to equality in third level education and to use the results of this survey to inform the equality campaign going forward.

 

10 EQ 7         Online Campaigning

Conference notes:

The necessity for USI Equality to campaign through various online media, for example, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging.

Conference also notes:

The increasing success of the current online activities of the USI Equality Campaign.

Conference mandates:

Equality Working Group to continue utilising online media to further the aims of the campaign.

Conference further mandates:

All members of Equality Working Group to write a blog on an issue relevant to the campaign at least once a month.

Conference mandates:

The Equality Officer to run competitions through online media in order to encourage students to be more interactive with the campaign.

 

10 EQ 8         Branding USI Equality

Conference notes

The success of the rebranding of the USI Equality Campaign in rejuvenating the image of the campaign among students, COs and NGOs

Conference mandates

The Equality Officer and Equality Working Group to continue to use the new logos and colour coding in all aspects of the Equality Campaign.

 

10 EQ 9         NUS-USI Collaboration

Conference notes:

That NUSUSI coordinates an equality campaign for the Northern Area

 

Conference notes:

That the structure of the NUSUSI campaign is similar to the structure of the USI Equality Campaign

Conference believes:

That it would be beneficial to both NUSUSI and USI if officers involved in both campaigns communicated regularly and shared ideas and experiences

Conference mandates:

The Equality Officer to organise one meeting per semester between the two campaigns to discuss possible collaborations and to provide support, if requested, to the NUSUSI Equality Campaign

Conference further mandates:

All members of Equality Working Group to keep in regular contact with counterparts working in the NUSUSI Equality Campaign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

09 EQ 2 AHEAD

Congress notes:

Previous policy (08/EQ6) which mandates the President and Welfare Officer to open discussions with AHEAD with a view to working together on common areas of interests.

Congress further notes:

That the Equality Officer, who has the responsibility to support the autonomous disability campaign, and the Disability Rights Officer are best placed to build links with AHEAD.

Congress acknowledges:

The work of the Equality Officer and Disability Rights Officer this year in achieving the above aim.

Congress further acknowledges:

The current work being done by USI and AHEAD in relation to compiling a guide for student union officers on how best to develop policy and services for students with disabilities.

Congress recognises:

That in the past number of months, support services for students with disabilities as well as the ‘Fund for Students with Disabilities’ have experienced cuts due to the current economic climate.

Congress mandates:

The Equality and Disability Rights Officers to:

Continue to build links with AHEAD;

Work with AHEAD to develop initiatives which can counteract the current cuts to support funds for students with disabilities;

Oppose any further cuts to support services for students with disabilities;

Promote and assist the development of student societies for students with disabilities;

Work with AHEAD to organise an annual one day event for students with disabilities;

 

09 EQ 4         USI RAINBOW WEEK

Conference notes:

That “Rainbow Week” is not thoroughly recognised within all affiliated colleges.

Conference also mandates:

The LGBT RO to communicate with the Students Unions and the LGBT societies and assist in the organisation of the Rainbow Weeks to those colleges that need assistance.

 

 

Gender Equality

10 GE 1         Reclaim the Night

Conference notes:

The success of the ‘Reclaim the Night Marches’ organised in the UK between the London Feminist Network and the National Union of Students in the UK (NUSUK) to highlight the issue of sexual violence against women.

Conference is disappointed:

By recent research from the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (December 2009) which outlined a poor conviction rate for crimes of rape and sexual violence in Ireland, inaccurate stereotypes of rape as well poor treatment of victims by members of An Garda Siochana.

Conference mandates:

The Equality Officer and the Gender Equality Officer to organise an annual ‘reclaim the night march’ for students to raise awareness of sexual violence against women in Ireland.

Conference further mandates:

The Equality Officer and the Gender Equality Officer to contact the Rape Crisis Network Ireland to explore possible collaborations on the issue of sexual violence against women.

10 GE 3         Childcare Facilities

Conference notes:

That access to affordable childcare is difficult in Ireland

Conference also notes:

That access to flexible and affordable childcare is difficult for students

Conference is aware:

That some third level institutions have crèches on or close to campus and that a number of places in said crèches are reserved for students

Conference is also aware:

That childcare/crèche subsidy schemes exist in different colleges

Conference believes:

That all third level institutions should provide a childcare facility for students

Conference mandates:

The Equality Officer, Gender Equality Office and Mature Student Officer to lobby all relevant authorities to establish childcare facilities on all third level campuses. Such childcare facilities should include both crèche and after school care facilities and should be affordable for students. Furthermore a majority of places in these facilities should be reserved for registered students of the institution.

 

10 GE 6         Campaigning for Women

Conference notes:

That USI had a successful Women’s Rights Campaign in the past

Conference also notes:

That in recent years there has been very little policy on Women’s issues

Conference believes:

That there is a problem with female participation in USI

Conferences further believes:

That current officers could learn a lot from the experience of past female officers, particularly those who were involved in the women’s rights campaign

Conference mandates:

The Equality Officer to convene a roundtable with interested ex officers to discuss how to progress womens involvement in the union.

 

 

International Students

10 IS 4           Finance for International Students

Conference notes:

That International Students face hefty fees for studying in Ireland

Conference also notes:

That there is a lack of transparency surrounding these fees and how they are costed

Conference believes:

That financial stress, caused by such large fees and the expense of living in Ireland, has a negative impact on the student experience for international students

Conference mandates:

The Equality Officer & International Students Officer to always lobby for transparent costings of all fees charged to international students and that these fees are advertised well in advance of a student arriving in Ireland. Where possible, officers should lobby for a decrease in the amount charged to international students.

 

 

LGBT

10 LGBT 2     Homophobic Bullying

Conference notes:

That the results of the “LGBT Lives” survey (2009) show that 12 years old is the most common time for an LGBT person to come out to themselves, with 17 being the age most of them start to come out. This means most LGBT people are in secondary school while beginning their coming out process, or just starting college.

Conference further notes:

That over 58% of LGBT people reported homophobic bullying in their schools, and that 80% of LGBT people currently experience verbal abuse due to their LGBT identity in their day to day lives

Conference believes:

That LGBT students can be victims of homophobic abuse in college

Conference mandates:

The LGBTRO to work alongside the ISSU on a joint anti homophobic bullying campaign, covering both secondary school and college students to raise awareness of this issue

Conference further mandates:

The LGBTRO to work with BeLonG To on this campaign, as they have established points of contact for the area of homophobic bullying.

 

10 LGBT 4     Anti-homophobia Campaign

Conference believes:

It should be obvious to all students in USI colleges that homophobia will not be tolerated in any form on campus.

Conference mandates:

The LGBT RO to prepare information leaflets or pack for a campus-wide anti-homophobia campaign in all USI campuses on a certain day and to encourage all SUs to get involved.

 

Mature Students

10 MS 2        Mature Students Officer

Conference notes:

The high increase in the number of mature students attending third level education

Conference also notes:

That increasing access to lifelong learning and creating diverse student populations is to be welcomed

Conference is aware:

That mature students have additional needs and that these are often not represented at local level in colleges

Conference believes that:

In order to represent the needs of mature students, each student union should have a part time mature student representative

Conference therefore mandates:

The Mature Students Officer to lobby local COs to create part time mature student officer positions and to assist all unions in the development of this position.

 

10 MS 3        Peer Support for Mature Students

Conference notes:

The success of peer support networks across Irish Third Level Institutions

Conference also notes:

The difficulties faced by mature students returning to education

Conference believes:

That other mature students are best placed to understand these issues and support mature students in first year

Conference mandates:

The Mature Students Officer to lobby each college to establish a mature student’s peer support network.