From littering the college with posters that read ‘For Queen and Dome, Vote Olivia Barber for JCR President’, to attempting (but perhaps more accurately, failing) to conjure up and deliver a rousing speech, the elections for College student President were an exciting, albeit stressful experience. I was keen to take over the position because I wanted to represent the student body effectively and make the JCR a real force for change around college. Yet, during this year I realised that in order to fulfil this commitment I needed to understand the college and its community, the plethora of factors that define its identity, as well as what it truly means to be one of the members of a college for self-defining women.
What immediately struck me is the solidarity of the college and that when students appear to be hesitant to get involved in student politics, it is simply because the issues under discussion are not of the most fundamental importance to them. Nonetheless, when you strike at the core of Murray Edwards’ identity, its concern to put women first, you realise that many wish to stand up and unite in feminism and the appreciation of the amazing work that this college does to empower young women of today. For, as unfortunate and unacceptable a situation as this is, gender inequality still persists, making bastions for women’s development and education such as Murray Edwards ever more relevant. As this 60th blog has shown, women from Murray Edwards (past and present) are ready to ‘lead the way’ using their abilities to shape the future wisely, positively and constructively.
Yet, what has struck me most is not only the efforts of the college in promoting these important changes but also the sheer strength and determination of the student body to unveil and redress huge inequalities at play. This year, we have revived the Murray Edwards feminist society and had over forty impassioned students turn out to discuss the identity of the college and its stance on feminism at an event organised by our Women’s officer, called ‘Liberté! Egalité! Beyoncé!’. We have also founded a feminist film society and launched it with a screening of a French New Wave film that brings to the fore some of the obstacles that surround female liberation and presents the different lived experiences of feminism from the perspectives of two female friends.
What we can take from this is the fact that these various different platforms for discussion have made the women of Murray Edwards more united than ever, allowing us to be proud of the fact that our college is an important and powerful space for women. Some use this space as the basis of their quiet confidence and strength, others as the springboard for a more forthright contribution. All are important.