Why representation is important

How do you tear down a wall? One brick at a time.

At a Special General Meeting on May 24 we saw a suite of changes to our constitution. We made UMSU a more welcoming home for trans and intersex women, improved representation for Women in our organisation and opened the door for people of colour. For a more specific breakdown of the changes you can follow this link.

The Women’s Department and the Welfare Department of UMSU, with the support of the Women and People of Colour Collectives, have worked for months now to reshape UMSU. Pending final Government approval, UMSU will create a People of Colour department – a long overdue introduction.

With elected representatives, proper resources and a mandate for change, we have the opportunity to not only secure better outcomes for students of colour but also grow as an organisation. With thousands of students on campus that face discrimination and disadvantage based on their racial and ethnic backgrounds, UMSU is now better positioned to champion those students and forge a stronger, more inclusive community.

Submitted in tandem with People of Colour motions, the changes to the Women’s Department to remove the misaligned asterisk, redefine our understanding of what it means to be a woman and improve the representation of women were also heard and carried at the SGM. I will not go into particular detail on these changes but I will say this: I am incredibly proud of the women in UMSU that championed these changes and secured a more inclusive future.

These changes were largely led by some of the women of UMSU and the motions presented were the result of dozens of meetings across hundreds of hours and I cannot think of a better example of leadership and consultation as demonstrated by your representatives. As a fundamentally progressive organisation these changes are inline with an understanding of intersectionality, empowerment for disadvantaged peoples and respect for autonomy. While there will always be challenges to overcome, I am excited for the future of autonomous representation at UMSU.

For some people these changes make immediate sense, others had to be convinced and some still need to make up their minds. Before the SGM I wrote an article for Parkville Station that you can find here. In the article I give a more thorough explanation of my position on all of the motions, and I hope it answers some immediate questions you might have.

Other questions still loom but as a your representatives we are dedicated to ensuring the People of Colour Department is successful and UMSU continues to represent you. As ever, my inbox is open and I look forward to the future we have begun to craft.

Tyson Holloway-Clarke

UMSU President


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