Students at Magdalene voted in favour of the creation of a political women’s officer role on the Welfare and Equal Opportunities sub-committee at an open meeting last Monday.
The officer will be voted in by the female student body via hustings and will have meetings with the JCR President and Vice-president at least five times a term.
An initial meeting was held on 24 October where Nina De Paula Hanika, a second-year student on the CUSU Women’s Campaign executive committee, brought the proposal that a voting Women’s Officer should be added to the JCR.
At this first meeting, which was only attended by 20 people, the original proposition failed and only 12 people voted for the sub-committee position to be passed. De Paula Hanika called for a referendum, feeling that the decision hadn’t been made by a large enough group to be representative of the female student body, leading to the second meeting on Monday.
The proposition for a voting position still failed, with 30 students voting in favour of the motion, while 40 voted against. However the sub-committee position had more success, passing by a clear majority of 62 votes to 12.
Speaking to The Cambridge Student, De Paula Hanika expressed her delight at the outcome of the meeting: “It was fantastic to see such a great turn out and see everyone engaging with a conversation that, in my eyes, was twenty-five years overdue.
“Whilst Magdalene is now in no way an actively exclusionary or sexist college, I think it is really important that we have recognised the need to be inclusive and representative of the needs of women, and hopefully, with time, those of other minority groups, within our collegiate decision-making.
“While it wasn’t exactly what I was pushing for, and still personally feel that representative positions should hold a voting position on JCR bodies, it was always my highest priority that the final decision was made by a much more informed, engaged and representative body of students than at the initial open meeting, and I feel this was achieved.”
JCR President Ali Meghji told TCS, “This definitely marks a step forward for Magdalene, as we now have a women’s welfare officer who can deal with personal issues and counselling and also a political women’s officer who can lead discussion groups, campaigns and workshops on issues relating to gender stratification both within the University environment but also well beyond life in Cambridge.”