The University of Nottingham’s Students’ Union will hold a Citizens’ Assembly on 3rd May 2016 between 7pm and 9m at Trent Vineyard Church in Lenton, two days prior to the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections.

The event has been organised in collaboration with Nottingham Citizens, an alliance of churches, mosques, synagogues, secular charities and Students’ Unions, and seeks to address social issues experienced by Nottingham residents – including students – such as sexual harassment, diversity in employment, refugees, mental health and social care.

It is hoped that 1,000 Nottingham residents will attend the Assembly, 10% of which will be University of Nottingham students, in order to hold the potential future leaders and local politicians to account and to encourage them to make pledges on specific concerns raised by the Nottingham public.

“A joint protocol between the Universities and Nottinghamshire Police will be proposed, which will address necessary procedures in the case that a student is raped or sexually assaulted”

Sam Peake, SU Community Officer, said: I wholeheartedly encourage students to attend this event, which will be a vibrant 21st century renewal of some good old fashioned ‘town hall’ democracy”.

He added: “It is always inspiring to see different traditions coming together with such humanity to unite around specific causes. I invite all students to join in that process and help change their city for the better”.

Several students, groups and societies from the University of Nottingham’s Students’ Union have been involved in the organisation of the event, and individuals from Nottingham Trent University have collaborated with UoN SU and UoN Feminists on the ‘asks’ which aim to combat sexual harassment.

Under this facet, students from both Universities and Nottingham’s Women’s Centre have collaborated on three specific ‘asks’, based on 47 one-to-one consulations, to propose ways to improve areas of concern for Nottingham residents and students.

“Everyday sexism is a real issue, harassment is a real issue, and now is the time for us to speak up”

A joint protocol between the Universities and Nottinghamshire Police will be proposed, which will address necessary procedures in the case that a student is raped or sexually assaulted on campus.

As statistics suggest that sexual harassment affects two thirds of female University students, UoN’s SU has voiced its beliefs that it is important for police to make sexual harrassment a strategic priority going forward, proposing the development of an educational publicity campaign.

Sarah Pickup, SU Equal Opportunies and Welfare Officer, told Impact: “It is so exciting to be part of something where we as students can actually make a tangible difference to how our experiences are dealt with. Everyday sexism is a real issue, harassment is a real issue, and now is the time for us to speak up“.

With regards to diversity in employment, it is hoped that the PCC election candidates will say ‘yes’ to a pledge to increase current BME representation in Nottinghamshire Police from 4% to 11%, reflecting the ethnic diversity of the Nottinghamshire County.

“It is expected that testimonies from refugees and Nottingham residents who have experienced myriad issues such as mental health problems will be given on the night”

It is also expected that testimonies from refugees and Nottingham residents who have experienced myriad issues such as mental health problems will be given on the night. This is in conjunction with the presentation of the specific ‘asks’ to the candidates running in the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner elections, and to various other portfolio holders in Nottingham City Council.

The event is also designed to encourage audience participation, with the hope that Nottingham residents will actively engage with the concerns raised and the responses provided by those being questioned.

Trent Vineyard Church is the chosen location for the event, on account of its size, and walking buses from both University Park Campus and Lenton to the church are set to be organised by the University’s Students’ Union to ensure student safety and to make it easier to find the Assembly.

Tickets to the event are free but students who wish to attend are required to sign up via the SU website. Tickets will be collected prior to the event, although it has been suggested that students who decide to attend on the day can present their student cards to an SU Officer based outside the venue, who can then provide them with a ticket to gain entry.

Tamsin Parnell

Image: University of Nottingham’s Students’ Union and Nottingham Citizens

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