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Equality Policy

Table of Contents

2021 EQ NC 1  Motion on residency criteria for returning emigrants

Proposed by VP E&C

 

Congress notes

That students who have not lived in Ireland or another EU member state for 3 of the last 5 years do not qualify for EU tuition fee levels or the student maintenance grant, regardless of their nationality and/or citizenship.

Congress regrets

That this policy has particularly affected the many young people who emigrated from Ireland during the economic crisis. Those who wish to return to Ireland to pursue higher education at both undergraduate and postgraduate level face significantly higher non-EU fee levels as a result of their residency in a non-EU state. In practice, this serves as an incentive to defer or reconsider repatriation.

Congress also regrets

That for a huge number of emigrants, emigration has not been a “lifestyle choice”. Hundreds of thousands of people have emigrated from Ireland over the past 10 years and many of whom did so under the obligation of a scarcity of opportunity.

Congress accordingly asserts

That it is unjust to penalise those Irish citizens who were forced by external circumstances to seek opportunities abroad. Moreover, the current policy is inconsistent with government strategy to incentivise the repatriation of those same emigrants.

Congress believes

That returning emigrants should be subject to less strict conditions of residency in order to quality for EU fee levels and student supports

Congress therefore mandates

Officer board to liaise with the Department of Education and the Higher Education Authority to pursue the implementation of less strict conditions of residency for these people.

 

2021 EQ NC 2  Accessibility to Higher Education for Students with Disabilities

Proposed by VP Postgraduate Affairs

 

Congress notes

The Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD) conducted a  survey in 2017/2018 which notes that 14, 720 students with disabilities enrolled in third-level education, representing 6.2 percent of the total student population. This notes a 17% increase in one year. USI applauds this increase, yet notes that access to third level education is still very restrictive, and students with disabilities still form a minority within the overall student body.

Congress notes

The need for an in-depth study on numbers of students with disabilities accessing third level education in Ireland, and the Institutional barriers faced by students with disabilities.

Congress further notes

That Students’ Unions can play a vital role in the encouragement of more students with disabilities enrolling in third level education, highlighting areas of Institutional inaccessibility on campuses and lobbying their Institutions towards greater support of students with disabilities.

Congress mandates

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to work with MO’s to highlight the need for, and resources required to greater enhance the numbers of students with disabilities accessing third level education in Ireland.

Congress further mandates

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship and the Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs to lobby the government for greater investment in disability services across existing Higher Education Institutions on behalf of students with disabilities at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. ”

 

 

 

2021 EQ 1       Equality Proofing of USI Campaigns and Events

Proposed by Maynooth Students’ Union

Congress Notes

That the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is the national representative body for circa 374,000 students in Ireland to date. Amongst those students is a varied diversity of different minority & under-represented groups included but not limited to:

Members of the LGBTQ+ community

Mature Students

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students

Migrants, Asylum Seekers & Undocumented Persons

Traveller & Roma Community

Transgender & Non-binary students

Students of faith

Students with disabilities

Students with caring responsibilities

Congress further notes That USI hosts a number of campaigns and events throughout the year in areas including but not limited to welfare, academic affairs, Gaeilge, postgraduate affairs, equality & citizenship.   These campaigns and events reach various cohorts of students from different groups and backgrounds and highlight important issues and themes throughout the year.

Congress Believes

That USI should strive to have diversity at the forefront of its campaigns and events. Concerning the standards of equality, diversity, inclusion and interculturalism (EDI), the elevation of liberation voices and groups should be a priority; this requires a spotlight.   There also is a necessity for USI campaigns and events to be equality-proofed, which is to say that campaigns and events within USI should strive to highlight and include the following: – Gaeilge (the Irish Language) – Representation of minorities – Relevance to postgraduate students – Accessibility

Congress therefore Mandates:

The VP for Equality & Citizenship and VP for Campaigns to work on an Equality-Proofing strategy that will ensure USI Campaigns and events are as inclusive and diverse as possible in highlighting: – Gaeilge (the Irish Language) – Representation of minorities – Relevance to postgraduate students – Accessibility

 

2021 EQ 2       Understanding Privilege and Inclusion

Proposed by Maynooth Students’ Union and Seconded by National College of Ireland Students’ Union

Congress Notes:

Recent events within the island of Ireland have highlighted many incidents in relation to discrimination towards students with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, Traveller and Roma community. There is also increasing amounts of racism, as highlighted during the peak of the Black Lives Matter Movement in 2020, towards BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic).

Congress Further Notes:

That of the aforementioned, there are a number of different groups who are under-represented, mis-represented, and discriminated against. An active stance must be taken against this within and by USI.

Congress Believes:

That ‘PRIVILEGE’ has been a theme that is misconceived within communities wide and far on the island of Ireland. Up until now, there has been a priority for narratives of teaching and learning within the student movement. Now, we must continue to uproot negative and false mindsets surrounding minority groups. We must continue the narrative of learning while also beginning the one of unlearning about PRIVILEGE & INCLUSION.

Congress therefore Mandates

The VP Campaigns and the VP Equality & Citizenship to work on an action plan that will focus on the unlearning of negative biases, decolonising minds to start afresh and liberate minorities across the island. The campaign should focus on not only helping SU officers and people to learn about differences in minority groups but equipping people with the tools to DO better.

Congress further Mandates

The USI Executive to ensure the action plan strives to educate, by providing educational tools that highlight privilege in ourselves and our communities. The plan should also recognise privilege and how it affects minorities.   To train, by developing training on how to support marginalised groups in the social and learning environment.   And, to support minorities, by working towards breaking down barriers to participation within minority groups and actively supporting the minorities to excel in positions of leadership. This should be done through developing campaigns and networks, but not limited to these. The plan should also highlight and celebrate the cultures and achievements of various liberation groups to celebrate and empower.

2021 EQ 3       Insurance for International Students

Proposed by Vice-President for Postgraduate Affairs

Congress Notes: Current law dictates that those considered “ordinarily resident” in Ireland must pay additional health insurance costs. The Irish immigration service requires that all non-EEA students have at least a basic policy covering emergency medical expenses. Proof of insurance is required at the time of registration with immigration authorities. For students on short-term courses and newly arrived first year students, travel insurance may suffice in some circumstances. Medical insurance policies that meet the minimum immigration service requirements have increased in cost for international students as a result of a ruling from the Court of Appeal determined that because students studying in Ireland for more than one year are ‘ordinarily resident’ in the state and they are required to purchase more expensive ‘community-rated’ policies. This means that insurance policies sold to non-EEA students must comply with the rules and obligations set down in the Health Insurance Act 1994.

Congress Further Notes: The majority of education programs in Ireland are longer than one year in duration.

Congress Recognizes: The recent high court ruling around “ordinarily resident” status within the Health Insurance Act saw an average insurance cost increase of roughly 300% for international students from roughly €100 to a community-rated health insurance premiums will cost in excess of €700 for the year.

Congress Further Commends: The work conducted by the Alliance for Affordable Insurance for International Students (AAIIS) which USI are members of, for the work in highlighting this issue and lobbying the Department for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, the Department for Justice, and the Department for Health on this matter.

Congress is Deeply Concerned: With international students being classed as “ordinarily resident” for the purpose of insurance while not be classes as “ordinarily resident” for the purpose of fees, where international students are being disproportionately burdened with higher fees and costs to study in Ireland.

Congress Mandates: The USI executive to continue working with AAIIS in lobbying the Department for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, the Department for Justice, and the Department for Health for a solution to this issue, including but not limited to the reversal of the high court decision on “ordinarily resident” status for international students.

 

20 EQ (NC) 1Migrant Education Access

Property of the USI Executive Team

Congress notes with concern:

That in the absence of a standardised residency test Irish third-level institutions apply an ‘EU’ fees’ category which often means migrant students pay two or three times more than the typical fees charged. Young people who have grown up in Ireland (gone to secondary school here) are denied access to financial assistance and the free fee scheme upon entry to third level.

Congress also notes:

That young people who have secured citizenship during their time in third level are often unable to ‘reverse’ their fee status and have no choice but to continue to pay these high tuition fees for the remainder of their third level education. These young people are also often unable to secure higher education grants.

Congress believes:

That the Union of Students in Ireland needs to advocate for accessible education for all students and should lend support to the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland’s Migrant Education Access Campaign, including that children of non EU migrants who have come to Ireland to join their families and should enjoy equality of access to third level Education.

Congress notes with concern:

The Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship to work with the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland on their Migrant Education Access (MEA) campaign.

Congress also mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to lobby the Department of Education and Skills to take effective action to address the situation of young people who have secured Irish citizenship but are currently unable to reverse their fee status. This may require a re- examination of the criteria of access to the Free Tuition Fee Scheme currently administered by the Higher Education Authority and should result in code of practice or a revised set of criteria being outlined to all third level institutes in Ireland to ensure a coordinated, equitable and consistent response.

 

 

20 EQ (NC) 2T Fund

Property of the USI Executive Team

Congress notes with concern:

That according to TENI, 78% of trans people in the UK and Ireland have thought about ending their lives and 40% have attempted suicide. For many people, beginning and continuing social transition brings significant relief. College is filled with financial stresses and for many transgender students, name changes and other transition expenses are not an option, even though they are life-saving.

Congress commends:

NUI Galway for the introduction of the ‘T fund’ for social transition, aiding students financially with elements of social transition which may include gender affirming items, such as makeup, and dysphoria relieving items like chest binders.

Congress also notes:

That the USI has a proud history of fundraising for various causes, but more recently does not fundraise annually for charity.

Congress therefore mandates:

The USI to develop a guidance strategy, based on best practice models, on how to establish a local fund, which USI will then circulate to all member organisations.

 

20 EQ (NC) 3 Period Products

Property of the USI Executive Team

Congress notes with concern:

-A person who has a period will on average have 507 periods throughout their lifetime, and will spend an average of €8100 in a lifetime on sanitary products.

-According to a survey of more than 1,100 young girls and women aged between 12 and 19 years by Plan International Ireland, nearly 50% of Irish teenage girls find it difficult to afford sanitary products; some 109 of the young women who participated in the survey said they were forced to use a ‘less suitable sanitary product’ because of the high monthly cost involved.

Congress notes with concern:

-Students’ Unions have quite often borne the financial burden of buying Sanitary products for students and distributing these.

-New period products such as menstrual cups and period underwear are still taxed at a higher rate of 23%, making them less affordable.

-Period poverty disproportionately affects student groups. The National Strategy for Women and Girls has identified students as an at risk group of period poverty.

Congress believes:

That these products should be provided free of charge as a necessary provision of healthcare for anyone who needs them.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare and Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to campaign for free sanitary products to be provided nationally. The provision of these products should encompass a wide variety of choice.

 

 

20 EQ 1 Supporting the Traveller Community

Proposed by the Equality and Citizenship Working Group

Congress notes

The Traveller community is one of the most marginalised in Irish society, and often face systemic barriers to accessing third level education, as well as healthcare and housing amongst other things. The latest data shows there are only 61 travellers in higher education.

Congress welcomes:

 

The National Access Plan for inclusion of travellers in third level education which aims to increase the number of travellers in third level education through targeted initiatives.

Also, the Yellow Flag programme which does great work in terms of breaking down social barriers in educational institutions.

Congress affirms

It’s support for the Traveller community as an ethnic minority group.

Congress mandates

The USI Executive team to mark Traveller Ethnicity day on the 1st of March every year, and to support events that recognise intersections within communities, such as Traveller Pride.

Congress also mandates

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to support the expansion of the yellow flag initiative into third level.

Congress also mandates

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to provide resources to MOs on specific issues students in the travelling community may face, working with organisations that provide education and awareness traveller culture and identity training, such as the STATUS toolkit. ”

 

 

 

20 EQ 2 20 x 20 campaign support

Proposed by the Vice President for Welfare USI

Congress notes

The 20 x 20 Campaign is a national, all-inclusive movement to shift Ireland’s cultural perceptions of women’s sport by 2020. The campaign aims are: – 20% increase in media coverage of women in sport – 20% increase in female participation at all levels of sports – 20% increased in attendance at women’s games and events

Congress further notes

USI supports women in sport and the well-being of students in third level college.

Congress mandates

The Vice President for Welfare to engage with the 20 x 20 campaign.

 

 

20 EQ 3Reporting Racism

Proposed by the Equality and Citizenship working group

 

Congress notes

The recent development of reporting tools across HEIs, for example, sexual assault reporting tools, and role these tools play in supporting students.

Congress notes

The same structures are not in place in our campuses to tackle racism, despite anecdotal reports that racism does happen in third level institutions. Furthermore, until we have hate crime legislation at a national level, it is very difficult to report racist incidents in a formalised manner.

Congress acknowledges:

The success of the iReport tool launched by INAR which allows people to identify and report incidents of racism. As well as this, race neutral language is not effective and to truly have a conversation about racism in this country we must have conversations about race and our attitude to it.

Congress mandates

USI to promote the iReport tool and to lobby for its use across society.

Congress mandates

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to support MOs in their lobbying of their institutions to develop stronger protocol against racism.

Congress further mandates

USI Executive team to provide anti-racism training for officers.

 

 

20 EQ 4Supporting LGBTQ+ Students

Proposed by the Vice President for Equality & Citizenship

Congress reaffirms:

It’s support for the LGBTQ+ Community.

Congress notes

There are particular challenges still facing the community and we cannot become complacent in tackling these.

Congress therefore mandates

All information sent out in USI materials must be inclusive of the LGBTQ+

Community. The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to send out information after Pink Training to LGBT+ Societies and Students’ Unions that will assist them in the events and campaigns they may wish to run throughout the year. The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship, Vice President for Campaigns and Regional Vice Presidents 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.

 

Congress therefore repeals

14 EQ 4

14 EQ 5

12 EQ 7

11 EQ 1

11 EQ 2

11 EQ 3

11 EQ 4

 

 

20 EQ 5 International Decade for people of African descent

Proposed by the Vice President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region

Congress notes

The Decade for people of African Descent (lasting from 2015-2024) sets out programmes of actions and stems from the Durban Declaration, the first international document from the first ever international conference to address racism experienced by people of African descent around the globe. It seeks to protect and promote the human rights of people of African descent, raise awareness of the issues faced by the group and to adopt national, regional and international frameworks for its implementation. It was acknowledged (in the document or the resolution) that due to the historical perception of people of African descent as slaves, prejudice exists to this day that manifests itself in day to day racism, institutional racism and discrimination in accessing services and employment which results in the group’s development disproportionately lagging behind compared to other groups.

Congress notes with concern

The Irish Government has yet to launch the decade. The decade is opt in and is not enforced but provides real opportunities to tackle racism in Irish society and have conversations about what can be done to overcome prejudice.

Congress mandates

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to lobby the Department of Equality and Justice to formally launch the decade, and to put pressure on them to put in place a programme that celebrates the decade.

Congress also mandates:

The USI executive team to organise an action to celebrate the decade.

 

EM 19 (EQ) – 1: Decolonising Education

Proposed by QUB Students’ Union

Congress notes:

That a student-led occupation started on 12 March 2019 surrounding anti-racism & decolonization in Goldsmiths University. This ongoing occupation’s demands from the university is grounded in the ethos of decolonizing education as the core of anti-racist work in tertiary/third-level institutions.

The #GoldOccupy movement has encouraged actions of solidarity from across the UK & Northern Ireland.

That USI and NUS UK work in partnership through the Trilateral Agreement and that the student movement across the world has a proud history of coming together in solidarity actions.

Student-led ‘Decolonise education’ campaigns have emerged across the UK since 2015’s ‘Why is My Curriculum White?’ And ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ campaigns, and connect to a rich history of student radicalism.

Deep inequalities persist in education for students of colour, including-but-not-limited-to the attainment gap – these are exacerbated by the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance and Maintenance Grants.

The BAME Attainment Gap is a national crisis, with BAME students 20% less likely to achieve a first or upper second-class degree compared to their white counterparts, despite having been admitted into university with the same A-level grades.

According to NUS liberate the curriculum research 34% of BAME students feel unable to bring their perspectives as students of colour, to their lectures/seminars.

There is a lack of sufficient research, across the island of Ireland, into the issues resulting in the BAME Attainment Gap and how it affects BAME students of intersectional identities and liberation groups (i.e. Women, LGBTQ, Disabled).

University staff employed are not representative of the students that they teach or the national population regarding race and this is also a prevalent issue amongst university senior management.

BAME students are being severely disadvantaged because they are more likely to leave university unable to secure jobs and twice as unlikely to make use of their degree.

A truly liberated and antiracist education system must include racial justice for students, staff and workers within an institution.

University administration are vested in the racist and xenophobic climate of wider society, and embrace the marketisation of higher education to reduce their responsibilities towards workers.

 

Decolonising education means democratise – transformative change will not happen through seat-at-the-table politics, but by leveraging student-worker-community power against institutions, to wrest control over them from the hands of overpaid management and corporate interests.

A ‘movement-based’ approach, organising both in and outside the confines of SUs, and rooted in local communities, should be taken to build a democratic, dynamic movement of truly decolonising our curriculum and institution.

Congress Further Believes:

Decolonise campaigns must, at core, confront the processes of marketisation, corporatisation and securitisation of education that have shut down universities as spaces to organise for radical change – not narrowly consider matters of curriculum and/or faculty diversity.

  • ‘Decolonising education’ must necessarily be connected to-
  • The demand for free education;
  • The imposition of visa monitoring on institutions;
  • The exclusion and gentrification of working class communities adjacent to many universities;
  • The managerialism in the university, and shutting down of internal democracy
  • Links between institutions and the arms trade/militarisation abroad;
  • Ending Direct

We should seek where possible to connect with education movements for radical change in the global south.

Many local campaigns across the UK, led primarily by sabbatical officers and guided by NUS UK, have been co-opted by universities and re-routed into diversity initiatives, or incrementalist reformism. The aim of these campaigns should be transformative, not merely replacing one set of bourgeois intellectuals with another of a different hue.

Issues of ‘race’ inequality cannot be divorced from the other pressures affecting

institutions and education on a national scale.

Addressing ‘race’ inequality goes hand-in-hand with campaigns for free education and the democratising our education – not band-wagoning on regressive government reforms because we’re promised crumbs.

Congress mandates:

The President, Vice-President Equality & Citizenship, Vice-President Academic Affairs to work on investigating issues surrounding the attainment gap in Ireland.

Congress also mandates

USI Officer Board to work on the ethos of this policy.

 

Congress reaffirms

USI’s stance on calling for free education, and that the democratising education is central to ensuring education is accessible for all.

Congress also reaffirms

USI’s solidarity with the Goldsmiths Anti-Racism Occupation.

 

 

EQ 19 – 1                     International Students Access to Multi Re-Entry Visa

Proposed By Dublin IT SU

Congress Notes:

The large number of international students that come to Ireland every year to study, but are only in receipt of a single-entry visa.

Congress further Notes:

the challenges in being granted a multi-entry visa in Ireland, which restricts students entering and leaving the country.

Congress Regrets:

That this has a negative impact on students seeing family and friends whilst studying abroad.

Congress Believes:

The importance of welcoming international students to Ireland to add to our already diverse and inclusive student environment.

Congress Mandates:

The VP Equality and Citizenship to lobby the Department of Justice and Equality and the Garda National Immigration Bureau for easier access to the multi-entry visa for international students.

 

 

EQ 19 – 2                     Students in Direct Provision:

Proposed by Equality and Citizenship Working Group

Congress commends:

The work done to date by the Union of Students in Ireland and students’ unions across the country towards ending the inhumane system of Direct Provision and working to protect and support students living in Direct Provision in their institutions.

 

Congress notes:

More and more asylum seekers are entering third level education, whether through access routes or Institution of Sanctuary scholarships. It is of great concern that College of Sanctuary scholarship students can be faced with deportation orders when they are in the middle of their studies.

Congress applauds:

The work done by DCUSU in particular around the Save our Shepherd campaign, and the incredible success of that campaign.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to lobby the Department of Justice to take

a person’s student status into special consideration when in the asylum process.

Congress also mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to devise a national strategy on what to do in the case of a student being faced with a deportation order, and to develop materials and resources around this for Students’ Union officers.

Congress further mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to lobby the Minister for Education to extend domestic fee status to students who are asylum seekers across all third level institutions.

 

 

EQ 19 – 3                     Supporting Student Parents and Carers

Proposed By Ulster University Students’ Union [UUSU]

Congress Notes:

The significant number of students in third level education in Ireland who have dependant children or other caring responsibilities.

The additional barriers facing student parents & carers which often interfere with their academic career and limit their scope to engage outside of the classroom.

The childcare costs incurred by student parents which normally cannot be fully met by grants which they are eligible for.

In spite of this, many institutions do not have sufficient services and facilities in place to support those with caring responsibilities such as creche facilities and funding support, and do not fully consider the needs of student parents in the coordination of timetables.

Congress Believes:

 

It is imperative upon students’ unions and USI to support the interests of student parents and carers and help to support them throughout their academic career. Individual MOs can make more progress on this issue locally, when they work collectively on this issue.

Congress Mandates:

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to produce guidance notes for MOs on how to further improve the experience of student parents & carers in their institutions, focusing on areas such as class timetabling, childcare support and inclusivity of events.

 

 

EQ 19 – 4                     The abolishment of MSM blood donation deferral period

Proposed by Waterford IT Students’ Union

Congress notes:

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) needs 3,000 donations a week to supply 71 hospitals nationwide. Regular blood donations by a sufficient number of healthy people are needed to ensure that safe blood will be available whenever and wherever it is needed. Blood transfusions are needed for women with complications of pregnancy, many complex medical and surgical procedures and for those undergoing radiation or chemotherapy to name a few.

Congress also notes:

The IBTS have set strict guidelines for those who eligible to donate to ensure that all donations are safe to use and to protect donors and recipients.

Congress further notes:

The lifetime ban on gay men donating blood to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) was lifted in January 2017 and replaced with a 12 month abstinence deferral period which means that a man who last had sex with another man (MSM) more than 12 months ago is now be able to donate blood if he meets the other blood donor selection criteria.

Congress notes with concern:

Eligibility decided on sexuality is extremely discriminatory and no one should be denied the right to donate blood based on their sexuality.

Congress therefore mandates:

The VP Equality and Citizenship campaign for the abolishment of the deferral period to ensure that MSM who meet all other eligibility criteria will be eligible to donate blood in Ireland.

 

EQ 19 – 5                     Accessibility audits

Proposed By NUI Galway SU

Congress notes:

Many campuses are inaccessible in many ways to students with disabilities. Examples of this include physical infrastructure such as ramps and working lifts etc. as well as not having clear markings across campus for students with visual impairments.

Congress further notes:

A lack of proper facilities can act as an ongoing barrier to students with disabilities towards completing their education.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to work with AHEAD to develop an accessibility audit template for campuses, which can be given to MOs to carry out across their own campuses.

 

 

EQ 19 – 6                     Hate Crime legislation

Proposed By NUIG Students’ Union

Congress notes:

Post the introduction of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, very little legislative changes have taken place in Ireland to further protect and defend minority groups from acts of hate crime.

Congress further notes:

The Irish Council of Civil Liberties report The Lifecycle of a Hate Crime: Country Report for Ireland, launched in July 2018, found that Ireland has significant gaps in Irish law, policy and criminal justice practice regarding acts of discrimination against minorities, which go largely underreported. Ireland currently is one of a small number of EU countries that does not have specific laws around dealing with hate crimes.

Congress acknowledges:

As we grow as campus communities, diversity is reflected in our student population more and more. Students from non traditional backgrounds may find their access to education restricted by such acts.

Many students from minority groups face discrimination; in particular, members of the Trans Community, students with disabilities, and those from Ethnic minority backgrounds can find themselves the targets of hate crime. This affects students across a range of issues of accommodation, transport, online interactions and many other areas of life.

 

Congress mandates: The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to ensure there is adequate student representation involved at a national level for any legislation being drafted.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to lobby for hate crime legislation to be enacted in Ireland

 

 

EQ 19 – 7                     Gender Equality

Proposed By IT Carlow SU

Congress Notes:

The lack of policy in relation to transgender, non-binary and intersex students, and gender identity/expression inclusivity within higher education. Research from LGBTI Ireland Report (2016) found that transgender, non-binary and intersex people face additional challenges in their day-to-day lives such as being referred to/as by the wrong pronoun or gender and this can have an immensely negative impact on a person’s mental health.

Congress Believes:

We need to lead the way in supporting transgender, non-binary and intersex students within higher and further education.

Congress Mandates:

VP Equality and Citizenship to develop a campaign in conjunction with relevant organisations such as ShoutOut, BeLonG To and TENI to support Students’ Union Officers in running a transgender, non-binary and intersex inclusivity campaign on campus for both staff and students which should include information packs, posters, workshop materials and leads to further resources.

Congress Further Mandates:

USI VP for Equality & Citizenship to gather and circulate all relevant HEI and SU policy relating to transgender, non-binary and intersex gender identity and expression policies.

 

 

EQ 19 – 8                     Supporting Students with Religious Beliefs and Rituals

Proposed By Dublin IT SU

Congress Notes:

All MO’s have a very diverse community of student members who have specific religious

beliefs and rituals.

 

Congress Mandates:

The VP for Equality and Citizenship to provide elected officers with information on how best to support students who have religious beliefs and rituals. This may include lobbying for improved facilities, catering services and supports.

 

 

EQ 19 – 9                     Disability Awareness and Annual Conference

Proposed by Vice President for Equality and Citizenship

Congress notes:

Reports released by the Association for Higher Education Access & Disability (AHEAD), of which USI is a board member, finds that while numbers of students with disabilities participating in higher education continues to rise, significant barriers remain.

Congress notes:

The Union of Students in Ireland is committed to removing the stigma from all disabilities, challenging perceptions and encouraging all members of our society to take a positive attitude towards understanding the nature of disability and overcoming prejudices.

A key part of this ongoing work can be done through student engagement and campaigns throughout the year, including a national-level event, to create a space for networking, dialogue, and empowerment to leadership roles.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to roll out a campaign informing students of many different disabilities and creating awareness of supports for students with disabilities.

Congress further mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to organise a conference and networking event for students with disabilities before the end of April in each academic year.

EQ 19 – 10                             Equality Strategy 2019

Proposed by Equality and Citizenship Committee

Congress notes:

The area of Equality and Citizenship is extremely broad and expands into many different aspects of the work of the Officer Board. For this reason, it is important that there is a roadmap to assist the work of the Union of Students in Ireland in how to best ensure the brief is effectively carried out, to the best ability.

Congress mandates:

The adoption of the proposed Equality Strategy 2019.

 

 

EQ 19 – 11                             EMpower students

Proposed by The VP for Equality & Citizenship and Maynooth Students’ Union

Congress notes:

Ireland has become more diverse in recent years. There has been an increase in people from Ethnic Minority background enrolling in institutions across the country and this will continue to rise.

Congress notes with alarm:

That students from ethnic minority background can be underrepresented in positions of leadership and representation. This can include, students’ union positions, class representatives, clubs and society committee positions etc.

Congress applauds:

The success of Pink Training, Women Lead, the conference for students living with disabilities, and similar events in the promoting of minority students running for leadership positions.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to run an event called ‘Empower’. This event will focus on increasing Ethnic Minority representation in positions of leadership in institutions across Ireland.

 

 

 

EQ (NC) 19 – 2 Solidarity with NUS-USI ‘Trust Us’ Campaign and

Abortion Access in Northern Ireland

Proposed by: Vice President for Equality and Citizenship

National Council recognises:

The collaborative efforts in campaigning for abortion access in Ireland by students all over Ireland.

National Council notes the following:

The 1967 Abortion Act of the UK Parliament was never extended to Northern Ireland.

Abortion is available in Northern Ireland only where there is a risk to the life, or to the long-term mental or physical health of the pregnant person. This excludes cases where there is fatal foetal abnormality, or a pregnancy as a result of rape or incest. In most

 

circumstances, abortion is a criminal offence punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act.

The Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service has initiated criminal proceedings under sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act for unlawful procurement of abortion and abortion pills in a minimum of three separate cases since 2016. An April 2016 case resulted in a suspended sentence of 3 months’ imprisonment, and in January 2017 a couple received formal cautions for attempting to procure an abortion with pills.

In October 2017, the UK Department for Women and Equalities announced that it would cover the cost of treatment for pregnant people who travel from Northern Ireland to England for abortion care. As a result, pregnant people lawfully resident in Northern Ireland and registered with a local GP will now be offered free abortions at the point of access if they travel to England to exert that right.

Although abortion on request is now legal up to 12 weeks in the Republic of Ireland, this change does not mean that people in Northern Ireland will stop travelling to Great Britain for abortion. The current provisions for Northern Ireland residents accessing abortion services in the Republic of Ireland require Northern Irish residents to pay to access care privately and comply with the mandatory three day waiting period. Travelling to Great Britain remains the cheapest and least complicated method of accessing legal abortion for Northern Ireland residents.

It is expected that by the end of 2019, it will be possible for residents of England, Scotland and Wales to take abortion pills at home once they have been prescribed. Northern Ireland residents who have to travel to Great Britain to access early medical abortion will not benefit from the shift to home use: they will have to take both abortion pills in Great Britain before travelling home. Meanwhile an individual who induces an abortion with the same medications (Mifepristone and Misoprostol) at home in Northern Ireland is at risk of prosecution.

National Council further notes with great concern that:

Although people who travel from Northern Ireland to England to access a termination are eligible to receive free abortion care on the NHS as of November 2017, the cost and logistics of arranging transport, accommodation, time off work and childcare continue to present practical barriers to accessing abortion outside Northern Ireland.

Obtaining an early medical abortion by purchasing abortion pills online is a method of abortion which is frequently relied upon by people who face additional barriers when travelling to access abortion, or find it impossible to travel altogether. Victims and survivors of domestic violence, people with disabilities and people with caring responsibilities can find themselves in this position.

The criminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland deters people from accessing aftercare, for fear of being reported to the Police Service of Northern Ireland if they disclose that they induced an abortion with medication.

Students who move to Northern Ireland for study effectively sign away their abortion rights when they register with a local GP because access to abortion is so restricted on the Northern Ireland NHS.

National Council believes that:

Individuals who make the decision to terminate a pregnancy should be supported and cared for in their local healthcare system, rather than disempowered and isolated by having to travel elsewhere to do so.

Access to reproductive healthcare is a student welfare issue. The lack of access to abortion services in Northern Ireland can significantly impact the personal and academic lives of students with crisis pregnancies. The inaccessibility of safe and legal abortion in Northern Ireland places an undue burden on students in an already stressful situation.

Abortion should be governed by the same robust regulatory and ethical frameworks as all other medical procedures.

Abortion reform should be designed in a manner which is inclusive of women, trans men, non-binary and gender fluid people.

National Council mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship, in solidarity with NUS-USI, to campaign for accessible reproductive healthcare and the removal of barriers to abortion access in Northern Ireland.

National Council further mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to support the NUS-USI ‘Trust Us’ campaign for the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland and actively engage with NUS-USI to ensure our solidarity is as effective as possible.

 

 

2018 EQ 1 : Gender Recognition of Students

Reapproved 2021

Proposed by Institute of Art, Design and Technology Students’ Union & the USI Vice

President for Equality & Citizenship

Congress notes:

Trans and non-binary students have difficulty changing their name and gender on college records such as exam results, roll, student cards etc.

Congress recognises:

 

The considerable distress that not being able to be recognised as who they are can have on trans and non binary students.

Congress Notes:

The work ongoing of the Gender Recognition Act Review Committee examining the Gender Recognition Act 2015 due to be complete by Summer 2018.

Congress applauds:

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship recent submission to the Gender Recognition Act Review and the current work being done in MOs on Gender Identity and Expression Policies.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to campaign for a system-wide agreement from CAO level upwards, regarding the facilitation of name-changes as well as the inclusion of non-binary identities.

Congress further mandates:

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to lobby the HEA (Higher Education Authority) to set up a working group with the USI, THEA (Technological Higher Education Association), the IUA (Irish Universities Association) and the Department of Education to identify a robust and agreed system-level framework, so that applications for name- changes while the student is attending their third level institution is met with a consistent response regardless of institution, rather than a case-by-case, ad-hoc, and discretionary reaction that often depends on the staff member the student speaks to.

 

 

2018 EQ 2 : Mature Student Campaign

Proposed by Vice President for the Southern Region

Reapproved 2021

Congress notes

The large numbers of mature students attending third level education and the difficulties they face.

Congress applauds:

The success of events such as Mature Student Conventions/Seminars provided by USI in the past.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to run a Mature Student Seminar annually in the first semester of each academic year.

Congress Notes

 

That events for matures students may be inaccessible due to other commitments of potential attendees.

Congress further mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to create an online forum for mature students in order for them to still obtain the benefits of networking at a regional and national level.

Congress also mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to continue their work in supporting the development of mature student officers and societies in MOs.

Congress further mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship and the Vice President for Campaigns to create a support document for local MOs which should include, but is not limited to, information on running their own mature student events, information to help development mature student supports on campuses and other links to mature student organisations.

Congress repeals

14 EQ 1, 12 OU 12, 15 OU 13, 12 OU 12. (SIC)

 

 

 

 

2018 EQ 4 : Gender Equality Audit

Proposed by the Vice President for the Dublin Region

Reapproved 2021

Congress notes

That self-defining women are still significantly under-represented in Students’ Union politics, as well as politics nationally. For the year 2017/2018, less than 20% of Presidents in USI affiliated Students’ Unions were women.

Congress recognises

The ongoing work being done within Students’ Unions to encourage more self-defining women to run for elected positions within their Students’ Unions.

Congress applauds

The Women Lead Projects rolled out this year and in previous years by USI and the continued growth in participation of these projects.

Congress further notes

The importance of data collection to further develop the Women Lead Project.

Congress therefore mandates

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to conduct a gender equality audit of Students’ Unions and their structures to support and inform the ongoing work of USI in this area.

 

 

2018 EQ 5 : Universal design for learning

Proposed by National University of Ireland, Galway Students’ Union with an amendment

also proposed by them

Reapproved 2021

 

Congress notes:

Learning materials used in lectures, tutorials, and for study are frequently inaccessible to students with different requirements

Congress recognises:

The universal design for learning approach campaigns for more user friendly, varied and accessible materials for students who have a physical/ hidden disability, mental health condition, student parents, and students whose first language is not English.

Congress mandates:

The VP for Equality and Citizenship and the VP for Academic Affairs to work with relevant organisations to support the implementation of Universal Design for Learning wherever possible.

 

 

17EQ3                        Integration of displaced persons into education

Congress recognises

The ongoing refugee crisis, in which over 20 million people have been displaced due to war, terrorism, and other conflicts.

Congress asserts

That education is an emancipator and affords people the tools with which to become independent and self-determinant.

Congress calls on

The Irish government to partake in the resettlement and relocation of displaced persons (such as refugees and asylum seekers) in numbers appropriate to the scale of the crisis.

Congress calls on

The education sector in Ireland to proactively support the integration of such displaced persons.

Congress calls on

The Minister for Education to extend “domestic” fee status to such displaced persons resettled in Ireland who wish to pursue their studies. This status should also extend to eligibility for the student maintenance grant and other student supports.

Congress calls on

Institutions of third-level education to follow the lead of Dublin City University and pursue

“University of Sanctuary” designation.

 

Congress therefore mandates

The officer board to campaign for the integration of such displaced persons into education in Ireland with particular focus on access, student supports, retention, recognition of prior learning and cultural integration, the latter including the provision of English language lessons.

 

Congress also mandates

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to provide for student leaders, particularly

elected officers, to become “No Hate Speech” ambassadors.

 

 

17 EQ4                        Expansion of ‘2in2u’ Campaign

Jointly proposed by the VP Equality & Citizenship & WIT Students’ Union

Congress recognises:

The organisation Women’s Aid runs a successful ‘2in2u’ dating abuse campaign which is supported by the Union of Students in Ireland. This campaign helps young women to spot the ‘danger signs’ of dating abuse and provides information to combat online stalking and digital abuse, as well as signposting support services.

Congress notes:

The campaign, whilst being very beneficial, has limitations in regards to the types of relationships and genders it focuses on.

Congress recognises:

That several national organisations are doing work in the area of domestic violence, sexual harrassment, violence, and emotional abuse, and the USI should build partnerships with them in order to ensure students are part of their target audiences moving forward.

Congress mandates:

That VP Equality & Citizenship and VP Welfare to work with Women’s Aid to expand their 2in2u campaign to become more inclusive of all genders and relationships. If this is not feasible, then a similar campaign and materials should be developed to compliment the 2in2u campaign which is more inclusive of gender and sexuality.

Congress further mandates:

The VP Equality & Citizenship to develop a partnership with the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) in their project work nationally to end sexual violence and harassment at third level.

 

 

 

15 EQ 1 Women in Leadership

Reapproved 2021

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.

 

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.

 

 

09 EQ 2 AHEAD

Reapproved 2021

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.