Ahead of Fridays UCLU elections, Pi speaks to controversial Women’s officer nominee, Kirk Sneade and his campaign organiser, Mark Stander.
Kirk who was behind your controversial nomination?
Mark: My nomination of Kirk started off as a bit of a joke; surely there are better uses to 26,000 a year; it’s a huge waste of money.
Kirk: But the more I’ve looked into it, the more I want this position. I want to create equality for all – I don’t differentiate between women and men, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to represent women’s issues. This is a political statement.
What do you want to achieve if you are elected?
Kirk: The union needs to be more in touch with the student body. I don’t feel the union represents the majority of UCL students. Whilst I will aim to bring about positive outcomes with my role, I will primarily be working on the dissolution of this position. The union already has an equalities officer; the creation of this position isn’t about maintaining or securing the equality of women, it seems to be about having one up on men within the union, and more power. One of the other candidates wants to start a ‘name and shame’ sexism campaign; this surely incites hate campaigns and will cause more damage than good. This position is creating a negative identity, rather than the protection and maintenance of women’s rights. It’s nonsensical. The minutes from the women’s forum state that “they want to remove men” from union meetings.
Why should you be elected?
Men do care about women, and that they are treated equally. I want to change the minority view that white middle class men at UCL are sexist. I don’t differentiate between people; I don’t look at people and think oh you’re a boy/girl, I judge them on their individual qualities. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female. I will donate a part of my income to aid female students at UCL with childcare support; moving to London is incredibly expensive and a lot of students with families can’t afford childcare and maintenance costs. The Kirk Sneade Scholarship. I feel like I represent most women. The women running for, or are even aware, of this position come across as radical feminists. This doesn’t fairly represent the majority of girls at UCL! Why should they create segregation between men and women and give feminism a bad name?
Mark: Kirk is incredibly charismatic and charming. I could think of no one better for the job.
How have you been received by the UCL public thus far; have you had any complaints?
The support has been overwhelming; yes one girl has shouted at me- a friend- saying that my nomination was nonsensical. But the position is about creating equality, there is nothing to say I can’t run for this position. I haven’t been told I can’t run.
If people see my manifesto as sexist, it’s not intended to be offensive; it’s supposed to be humorous. Yeah okay the Roxy and pretty Print Room café girls may seem extreme. But we are mirroring the humorous nature of some of the other candidates: banning Chris Brown music, banning Skuzz tv – a lot of girls like both of those things!
Did you run in response to dissatisfaction with the union?
Yeah, currently it feels like some members of the union have personal vendettas, and are not addressing issues fairly. Even their manifestos come across as a chance to seize power after being personally insulted or offended by something – that’s just not how things should be done! The majority of the student body isn’t being represented. As a white, straight, majority class student at UCL, I want to show I can fairly represent and support both the majority and minority groups at UCL.
The creation of these new positions will result in a net cost of £400,000. Surely this money can be put to better use for UCL students. So many feel these positions are not only held by people who don’t represent the general populous of UCL, but that are running the union in accordance with personal vendettas, and ignoring the feelings and complaints of the student body.