The USI Equality Campaign is the national student led equality campaign. The campaign has five major focuses: Students with Disabilities, Gender Equality, International Students, LGBT Students and Mature Students. The campaign aims to support students by breaking down stereotypes and fighting discrimination within the third-level education system.

International

In Ireland, overseas students continue to make up a growing vibrant, multiculturally diverse community. As part of the USI Equality campaign, we aim to work on equality of oportunities for all students regardless of their country of origin. The USI Equality and Citizenship Officer sits on the Board of Directors of ICOS, the Irish Council for International Students http://www.icosirl.ie/eng. USI and ICOS organise international students’ fora each year and are currently working on a staff training DVD for those working with international students. Through ICOS, USI is represented on the High Level Group, which advises the Government on the implementation of the International Education Strategy.

Disability

College is one of the most rewarding experiences and having a disability should not stop you from having the best few years of your life. Ther are disability supports services on each campus and their job is to help you get the most out of college. The USI works closely with the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD) http://www.ahead.ie/ and our Equality and Citizenship Officer sits on the Board of Directors of AHEAD. USI is committed to raising awareness of physical and hidden disabilities and opposing any cuts to financial supports for students with disabilities.

LGBT

The Union of Students in Ireland has been campaigning on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues since the mid 1960’s. USI was heavily involved in the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993. USI continues to advocate for the removal of the MSM blood ban. USI is a strong advocate for Trans* rights and for the introduction of gender recognition legislation that is respectful and inclusive. USI works closely with Transgender Equality Network Ireland http://teni.ie/ and the TEA Collective http://www.transgender.ie/. In August 2012, USI mobilised a large contingent of students at the LGBT Noisehttp://lgbtnoise.ie/ March for Marriage. In 2012, USI also launched the LGBT Ally initiative, the first of its kind in Ireland. USI has been organising Pink Training since 1992. Pink Training is the largest event of its kind for third-level students in Europe. USI is a member of IGLYO, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer youth and Student Organisation http://www.iglyo.com/. USI works closely with Marriage Equalityhttp://www.marriagequality.ie/ to campaign for equal access to civil marriage in Ireland.

Mature

Mature students make up circa 15% of students in third-level education in Ireland. The USI Equality and Citizenship Officer sits on the Board of Mature Students Ireland  http://maturestudents.ie/index.php. USI opposes cuts to financial supports for mature students and included the Back to Education Allowance in our 2012 pre-budget submission to the Government. USI is working to build links between Mature Students’ societies in Ireland and organises an annual Mature Students’ Convention http://www.issuu.com/theusi/docs/mature_students_convention_programme

Gender Equality

In accordance with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, ‘gender equality is achieved when women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society, including economic participation and decision making, and when different behaviours, aspirations and needs of women and men are equally valued and favoured.’
The USI Gender Equality Campaign aims to uphold this and more specifically endeavours to tackle the gender prejudices present in the third level education system, while also addressing the needs of both male and female students.
The USI Equality and Citizenship Officer works with COSC, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence:http://www.cosc.ie/. USI has a seat on PASC (public awareness sub-committee), which advises COSC on these issues.
USI is also a pro-choice organisation and has a mandate from our membership to work with other organisations who are campaigning for safe and legal access to abortion in Ireland. USI has a history of campaigning on this issue over the years:

Active Citizenship

Active Citizenship is about how we play an active role in society – in our communities, neighbouhoods, political structures, voluntary organisations and workplaces. By embracing the values of Active Citizenship, we can contribute to the well-being of Irish society. Being an active citizen means being aware of and caring about the welfare of fellow citizens, recognising that we live as members of communities and therefore depend on others in our daily lives. Active citizens support and become involved in different types of voluntary and community activities; respect and listen to those with differnt views from their own; play their part in making decisions that affect them, in particular by participating in the democratic process; respect ethnic and cultural diversity and are open to change; welcome new peopel who come to live in Ireland (Report of the TaskForce on Active Citizenship 2007 http://www.wheel.ie/sites/default/files/Report%20of%20the%20Taskforce%20on%20Active%20Citizenship.pdf)
USI is committed to raising the profile of students who are active citizens and student volunteers and the excellent work being done by students throughout the year and during Raising and Giving Weeks. USI is working with Volunteer Ireland http://www.volunteer.ie/ to promote student volunteering. Active Citizenship is something that USI encourages among our membership. Under the Citizenship brief, the USI Equality and Citizenship Officer works with the USI Campaigns Officer to conduct student voter registration drives. In 2012, USI also organised Green Training with Young Friends of the Earth Ireland http://www.youngfoe.ie/
See this link for information on how to register to vote and change your address:
Browse Volunteering Opportunites here:
USI guest article for Volunteer Ireland’s blog: