My First Time
“The personal is political” – Audre Lorde, The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House –
I came to Keele to get my degree and go back to London.
I never imagined being engaged with student life and politics.
However, as I now know all too well, things don’t work out how you think they will.
After having so many unforeseen roadblocks in my academic journey, I decided to get more out of my time at Keele and become the change I wanted to see.
I met Sophia (WOKE co-founder) after looking for a opportunity for women of colour at Keele.
After getting to know the aims of WOKE, even though we’ve not been active for long, I felt empowered to do move forward with my ideas.
After seeing so many tired faces among the Students Union Officers, I avoided taking part in student politics (other than voting).
But who knew, just being asked by Sophia was all the encouragement I needed to think about changes I wanted to make so that people like me felt more represented at Keele.
I eventually decided to run because I knew that I could make changes, with the support of WOKE, and students who agreed with my stance on free periods, etc.
My decision to run for NUS Delegate was mostly because the NUS had already been doing progressive work i.e. Tampon Tax, the Attainment Gap of Disabled Black Students.
It was straightforward to nominate myself via KeeleSU website.
After going to the initial meeting with other candidates, where we were informed on the rules and regulations, I knew my campaign ideas would be restricted (though the regulations made campaigning fair for all of us).
I had big ideas and a small budget, so I had to consider how to approach voters, and prove why I am a good candidate for NUS Delegate.
After designing my campaign posters, stickers, and writing my manifesto, I had to decide where I was going to display them.
I had to consider where people are the most like the Students’ Union, toilet’s, lecture buildings.
These were key locations to display posters and stickers as they linked to my campaign aims around Sex and Relationship Education, Free Feminine Hygiene Products, and Extended Freshers Week.
Another key location was in the centre of campus.
I had a campaign stall with the intentions of giving out self-care packs including sanitary towels, condoms, sweets, and information on my campaign.
Since I buy in bulk and I hadn’t menstruated all year due to unknown reasons (shocking), I thought about other women who are financially challenged (as i am) and wanted to do something to help lessen their worries about the costs for something that should be FREE.
However, this was against the election regulations, so I could only give out information about the election.
Overall, the stall was really engaging and fun.
I found many women coming to me and mentioning seeing my stickers in toilets, others engaged with the points on interest I had written on the table.
A post-it saying “Are Men Trash?” received the most attention; everyone who noticed it said yes, even the men.
This was my first time in student politics and it was great.
I’ll admit I felt slightly disappointed knowing that there results led to Keele’s NUS Delegates being 100% white.
Though, coming so close to getting a position convinced me that students at Keele really want to see change.
As it was a great opportunity for me to network with different sections of Keele as a community, I am proud to say that I have been working with such great people since the election to achieve my aims.
The only thing about this experience that wasn’t exciting was the lack of election awareness from the SU and students.
As voting is such an important part of democracy, I think all universities should promote voting and election information constantly.
In a time of such political heat in UK Government, it’s absolutely necessary that we pay attention to who’s in charge of taking care of us.
Thanks to Tia, Ade, and Sophia for your close support.
Written and Edited by Raveena and Ade