After reports that the role was scrapped last year due to harassment of the only candidate, it appears that The Students’ Union at UWE has revamped the role of “Men’s Officer” for 2019 under the new name of “Men’s Welfare Officer”, preparing for candidate nominations and by-elections, despite the motion for the original version of the role failing.
According to Samaritans, men are three times more likely to commit suicide in the UK than women. This has led some to believe that the role is necessary to help with male mental health.
Others, however, believe that the role is inappropriate as men are not marginalized in the same way as other groups.
Speaking to Will Hoskin, deputy returning officer at The Students’ Union, he claimed that the role was never suspended, as The Telegraph appeared to claim, and that the role went unfilled last year as there was “nobody running for it” last year. For this year, there was “clarification of the name” by the trustee board, to “try to make it as clear as possible” what the purpose of the role is.
Hoskin went on to say “I think there’s definitely a need for a Men’s Welfare Officer, anything we can do to actually help students’ voices, in terms of making sure that they’re heard within both our organization [The Students’ Union] and at UWE is a good thing.”
Addressing the potential for the role to be abused, Hoskin said “We have to be careful with the motives of people who are running for the positions, but that’s the same with all positions, whether it’s anything that’s elected, just look at […] national politics, both in America and the UK, anything that people are running for, they could have ulterior motives. […] I don’t think that’s what people have, […] but there are other processes in place that allow for […] removal of officers and presidents based on students’ complaints or a petition of no confidence, that sort of thing.”
Responding to the criticism received for the role last year, Hoskin said “they’re entitled to their opinion, I don’t work for NUS, I don’t work for Bristol Students’ Union, I work for The Students’ Union at UWE, so as far as that goes, that’s their opinion, fine.”
Rachel Watters, Women’s Officer at NUS (National Union of Students), refused request for comment. Other liberation officers at NUS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Nominations for the role are open until 11th October.