In the Spirit of the Game

Anita Creasey – Opinion

I spent a good deal of the drive home today shouting ‘she stole my motion!’ down the phone. My four year old in the back was quite perplexed. I wasn’t sure how to explain it to him. You see things like cooperation, sharing, not stealing from other kids in the playground; these are sophisticated concepts you don’t learn in preschool… oh no wait…

Let’s go back to the start.

At the April meeting of the UWA Guild Council, the Women’s Officer reported that she was keen to meet with and work with the Feminist Action Network. So when the O’Camp scandal hit the headlines that first weekend in May we contacted her to arrange a meeting. By 10am on Monday we were seated around a table, the West Australian in one hand, FAN policy docs in another, ready to put our political differences aside if it could benefit students at our University.

After accidentally locking ourselves in the room and having to climb out the window and back in through another window we eventually reconvened in the small meeting room where we agreed on a number of motions – motions to be submitted by the Women’s Officer and myself at the next council meeting. As a show of good faith we even put the title of the Women’s Office on the front page of our policy document before posting it online. We requested submissions and held a forum to accept feedback. It looked like, after at least a decade of hushed rumours and traumatised students, two would-be nemeses had come together to put an end to sexual harassment at camps.

That brings us today, when I called the Women’s Officer to check she was still happy to second the motions and offered to send her through the final versions. She was. But then came the reply:

“I agree that a student committee does need to be set up and I will bring a motion to the next meeting myself”

She stole my motion I tell you! At least that is how it appears in the absence of evidence to the contrary. I called her to ask whether she had any specific criticisms of our motion. I got nada. I asked what her motion entailed only to be told I’d see it in the agenda. It seems that the era of cooperation had ended – before it could do any good for UWA students.

Our motion will still come before council next week as another councillor was only too happy to second it. And if there are two eerily similar motions on the agenda I’ll be able to offer this explanation. I’m not bitter (OK, maybe a little bit). Most of all, I want the people that support FAN to know that every attempt at cooperation was made. There is nothing more that FAN could have or should have done. And yet here we are.

So to our Women’s Officer, if you are reading this, I urge you to reconsider your position. Please come back to the table in a spirit of honesty and openness. Share your concerns with us so we can offer up a compromise. The emotional and physical wellbeing of students is too important to play politics with.

We have chosen to refer to the Women’s Officer by her title in the hope that it will demonstrate that our concerns are political, not personal.