Candidate for the position of Vice President Women

Amber Sparks

Amber Sparks for VP Women #SparkingEquality

Hi, I’m Amber (She/Her)! I want to make Oxford a better place for women and those whose identity also partially includes woman from all backgrounds. I will prioritise student welfare and strive to give those identifying wholly or partially as a woman a platform to break down the barriers and prejudices that are currently making this university a less accessible place.

 

Experience:

Fully-trained Peer Supporter

Co-organiser of St Hilda’s Feminist Festival

St Hilda’s Feminist Society (publicity and coordination)

Head Freshers’ and and Finalists’ Representative at St Hilda’s College

Directed a mental health campaign with the North West and UK Youth Parliaments

 

Supporting Survivors of Sexual Violence:

Sexual violence, harassment and rape culture are big problems in Oxford. I want the university to take sexual violence as a priority and better support survivors, and to achieve this I will:

Continue the work of the current VP on lobbying colleges to abide by a standardised process of reporting sexual misconduct and to have stronger disciplinary procedures for cases of sexual violence within the college community.

Follow up on responses from users of the Sexual Violence and Harassment Support Service to further improve this through staff training and increased funds.

Make an easily accessible guide for all students with information and contact details regarding next steps after sexual assault in line with the experiences coming from testimonies of survivors.

Lobby colleges to make consent workshops compulsory. I want to establish a longer-term strategy to tackle rape culture after freshers’ week workshops by developing an online platform for engaging incoming freshers on consent and healthy relationships.

 

Women’s Welfare:

I want to make sure that mental health is prioritised within the university, and work with the VP WEO to:

Ensure that each college has equal access to counsellors.

Develop stronger cross-college links among peer supporters and work with peers of colour and rainbow peers to offer a wider and more diverse range of support to students not confined by college.

Hear the experiences of women from all backgrounds who have used mental health provisions at Oxford in order to make treatments both more accessible and beneficial. I will call for the university to invest in diverse and culturally competent mental health treatments in response to the experiences of these groups.

Maintain strong links with women’s officers, and other students identifying as female in liberation and welfare roles, throughout the year to offer support and to tackle any issues that may arise at college or university levels.

 

Defending Trans Rights:

Trans rights are being deprioritised across universities and among the wider community. Hate speech within the staff and student body, and the wider community, is a big problem, and this needs to be tackled by taking a serious stance against transphobia and protecting the rights of those identifying as trans or with complex gender identities.

I want to work with university-led and nationwide campaigns to protect trans rights and stand as a point of contact and support for students who wish to challenge transphobia within the university, from tutors or fellow students.

I will use my position if elected to stand against the deprioritisation of trans issues and the defunding of the trans campaign within the NUS.

 

Equal Support and Representation For All Women:

Oxford’s colonial history and legacy of privilege still present systemic access barriers for minority identities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, both getting to and during their time at Oxford. Subject and access reports show that women sometimes perform less well than men and experiences of misogyny and sexism should not be dismissed but challenged. To make Oxford a more accessible and equal  place for women of all backgrounds, I will:

Strive to hear the experiences of women, especially women from minority identities, on academic issues and make an action plan to support these groups and push the university to support measures to achieve equal attainment.  I also want to celebrate the academic achievements of women, especially in male-dominated fields such as STEM.

Stand as a point of contact both to potential applicants and students to help with women-related issues, such as liaising with colleges about accommodation, accessibility, faith rooms, spaces for women and financial, social and cultural support for those of all backgrounds.

Make a special effort to talk to women carers and those with children to support these groups on the issues affecting them.

Collect the experiences of women in sport, from blues to college level and lobby colleges to provide more equal funding between male and female sports teams, working with the This Girl Can campaign.

 

Supporting Sex Workers:

I will continue to record up to date information on the experience of sex workers within our student body to ensure that they receive the best support from the university. I will also work with national charities to campaign on reducing stigma around sex work and to protect workers of this industry.