Update: the motion passed unanimously at today’s second reading, without a single objection. Oxford University will have a Student Parents and Carers Officer!
Oxford could do so much more to help student parents – and something really important is being proposed today at OUSU Council which would be a big step in the right direction. The plan is to create a Student Parents and Carers Officer – a part-time position with responsibility for helping parents and carers meet the particular challenges they face in university life. The motion is below. We’re hoping it will pass without any difficulty; still, it might be worth coming along to St John’s auditorium at 5.30 to support and vote for the motion. The details of the position are still be worked out, but this could be a significant step towards making Oxford a fairer place for all.
Introduction of a Student Parent and Carers Officer
- There are at least 200 student members [a conservative estimate] who are student parents or carers.
- The current responsibility for student parents and carers lies with the Vice-President (Women).
- The NUS has put out two reports on student parents and carers, Meet the Parents (2009) and Learning with Care (2012), which make a number of recommendations for Universities and Student Unions.
- Many other Student Unions have representative positions for student parents and carers.
- Student parents and carers face particular and specific challenges, including but not limited to sourcing and funding childcare and integrating into student communities.
- The challenges that student parents and carers face are important, and the fact that OUSU is working to address them should not depend on the year-to-year priorities of the Vice-President (Women).
- It is inappropriate that no student parents and carers who are not women are currently able to run for the position that has responsibility for working for student parents and carers.
- OUSU should take steps to address some of the recommendations made in Meet the Parents and Learning with Care, including but not limited to: ‘Students’ unions and institutions should work together to enable student carers to participate in student life to as great an extent as they wish.’ (Learning with Care) ‘Students’ unions should consider the ways in which student parents’ interests can be represented through their democratic systems, given the restraints on their time.’ (Meet the Parents)
- Introducing a new Part Time Officer role, the Student Parents and Carers Officer, would solve the problems discussed in Believes 2. and 3. and would increase OUSU’s ability to tackle the challenges discussed in Believes 1. and the recommendations discussed in Believes 4.
- To introduce a new Part Time Officer role, the Student Parents and Carers Officer, by making the following alterations to the General regulations […]
- To note and accept the proposed remit for this role (Appendix 1).
- To mandate the Vice-Presidents (Women) and (Graduates) to work closely with the new Student Parents and Carers Officer to refine the remit of the role, anticipating that this role may require more support than others, and report to Council on this progress in Trinity Term 2015.
Officer Remit: Student Parents and Carers Officer
To represent the interests of student parents and students with other caring responsibilities to the OUSU Executive and University, particularly working with the Mature Students Officer and the Graduate Women’s Officer.
Lobby for the interests of student parents and students with other caring responsibilities in all areas of the student experience including (but not limited to) access, academic affairs and welfare.
Liaise with the University Childcare Services Department and Equality and Diversity Unit on a regular basis.