FemSoc looks at EUSA election hype

Voting for EUSA elections just opened and since FemSoc loves democracy, we encourage everyone to have a look at all the candidates and their manifestos: https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/elections/candidates/18/

But to make things easier for you, we also asked candidates a few questions about feminism, so we sent them the following email:

“Hello EUSA sabbatical candidates,

Campaign season has now kicked off and so we thought it would be good to find out a little bit more about you all and help get our members more involved. We’re therefore drafted up this list of questions and re giving you until midnight on Sunday 15th to reply. We’ll then by circulating the results to our members.

1. Do you define as a feminist and if not why not?
2. Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?
3. EUSA has a no platform policy for rape apologists and the SWP. Do you think this is right and would you uphold it?
4. Are you pro-choice and would you propose any changes to the current abortion laws?

Good luck in the elections and we look forward to your responses.

Femsoc team ”

Before going on with the answers, we wanted to mention that we’re horrified by the various abuse we’ve seen thrown around during the campaign period and we wanted to express solidarity with everyone affected.

(Candidates are listed in the order they appear on the EUSA website)


Michael Kutner


To answer your questions:

1. Do you define as a feminist and if not why not?
The term feminist means different things to different people. For me, it means being committed to social equality for women and to working to eliminate barriers that prevent women from reaching their full potential in society. In that sense, I am a feminist, always have been, and always will be.

2. Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?
I think EUSA should stay focused on issues that directly affect students and university life. I would like to see EUSA work on issues such as the pay gap for men and women at the university, but I don’t want to see EUSA stray too far from its core mission–working for the benefit of students–in its zeal to bring about political change.

3. EUSA has a no platform policy for rape apologists and the SWP. Do you think this is right and would you uphold it?
I don’t want EUSA to be involved in anything that makes light of or attempts to justify rape (or any other violent crime for that matter). I a no platform policy is a reasonable and appropritate means of working to achieve that goal. I don’t know enough about the SWP case specifically to comment on that.

4. Are you pro-choice and would you propose any changes to the current abortion laws?
I am pro choice and have absolutely no desire to promote any changes to law that would restrict a person’s access to abortion. However, I would like to see more emphasis placed within government on providing effective sex education and means of contraception so that women aren’t forced to make these wrenching choices in the first place.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.


Michael Kutner

Faatima Osman

Hi please find attached my response to the questions here! 🙂

1. Do you define as a feminist and if not why not?
I define as a feminist and subscribe to intersectional theory.

2. Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?
EUSA should undoubtedly actively campaign for women’s rights. Making the women’s officer a full time sabbatical role would be a good step towards achieving this goal more effectively. As well as making the other liberation convenor roles full time. Women are still oppressed in society in a number of different ways and it is essential that we oppose this.

3. EUSA has a no platform policy for rape apologists and the SWP. Do you think this is right and would you uphold it?
I wholeheartedly agree with no platforming rape apologists and would strongly uphold this policy. The SWP is a notoriously misogynist party which attempts to hide their rape apologism under the guise of left-wing activism. This makes them doubly damaging and thus they definitely should be opposed and students warned to avoid them.

4. Are you pro-choice and would you propose any changes to the current abortion laws?
I am definitely pro-choice, if I could I would widen access to free, safe, legal abortion by extending the time of access so that abortions could be performed as long as it is safe to do so. I would also change the system for those seeking abortion, who have to give specific reasons and be approved by two doctors. I would also seek to provide more support, protection and counselling for people accessing abortions, particularly supporting them in the face of anti-choice campaigners.

Theo Robertson-Bonds

Hi there!

Thanks so much for getting in touch. In response to your questions:

1) Yes, unequivocally. However, in doing so, I also recognise the fact that I’m a white man, but I will do absolutely anything to be a supportive ally to feminist causes led by women. As a gay disabled man, I do my best to sympathise with the struggle faced by other oppressed groups, and if elected President I’ll do my utmost to work with FemSoc and the Women’s Liberation Group Convenor to provide any support needed. Intersectionality all the way!

2) Yes. EUSA is – and always should be – a feminist!

3) Yes, I absolutely support it. There’s absolutely no place for discrimination and rape apologism on this campus.

4) Yes! I remember being rather envious of the canvas bags I think you were distributing with “Totes Pro-Choice” on the side of them about a year ago. As a man, it’s certainly not for me to determine how women should campaign against their oppression, but I think that the present Government’s move to reduce the abortion time limit under pro-lifer health secretary Jeremy Hunt was utterly disgusting.

Let me know if you have any more questions or concerns for me. I’m always here to answer them for you.



Jonny Ross-Tatam

Dear everybody at Feminist Society,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to answer some of your questions. The responses are attached. I wish you all very well and look forward to you all getting involved in the election over the next few days.

Best wishes,


1. Do you define as a feminist and if not why not?
Yes. I consider myself a feminist not only because I strongly believe in gender equality, but because I believe that the fight for gender equality is far from over. I consider myself a feminist because I strongly support the fight for equal rights. Gender inequality isn’t just something that is morally repugnant, it is also damaging to our society. I believe that everyone would benefit from a more fair and equal society. Therefore, when we talk about the wellbeing of every student, an active push for gender equality is an absolutely essential part of that.

2. Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?
Yes, definitely. It should support every world wide campaign aimed at civil rights, including those dealing with gender. More specifically, our students’ association should focus its efforts on campaigning for women’s rights here at Edinburgh University. First and foremost, EUSA should address the issues on campus which can make female students feel unsafe at their own university. For example, the campaign against the DKE Fraternity and rape culture on campus. The wellbeing of every student should be the focus of everything our students’ association does, and that means actively campaigning for women’s rights on campus. There is a lot to be done in the fight for women’s rights and gender equality. By combining the efforts of EUSA, the women’s liberation group and societies like FemSoc, I believe we can create an even stronger movement together to fight for women’s rights. In order to do so, I plan to create a Women’s Liberation Strategy Group.

3. EUSA has a no platform policy for rape apologists and the SWP. Do you think this is right and would you uphold it?
Yes and yes. Everything needs to be done to kick rape culture off campus. So, providing a platform to any group which have, in any way, been deemed rape apologists would only set us back in our mission. The wellbeing of every student should be the focus of our students’ association. We must, therefore, not assist any organisation which puts that at risk.

4. Are you pro-choice and would you propose any changes to the current abortion laws?
I am pro-choice. The bottom line is, it’s that person’s body, life and choice. I believe that it is up to the individual to make the decision that is right for them. This means having laws in place that allow the individual to make their own decision about their body—that decision should not be made for them by the state. Someone’s own opinion on the matter can be a very personal one, however, I do not believe it is the right of one person to make decisions about another persons body.

Thank you, everyone at Feminist Society, for getting in touch with me. I think that this is a great way to get as many of your members involved in the election as possible. Whoever your members vote for, the most important thing is that people are taking an active part in the democratic election that could shape their university lives.


Chris Edrev

Hello dear Femsoc,

this is Chris Edrev – one of the candidates for the position of EUSA Vice President of Academic Affairs. Here are my answers to your questions. It was a pleasant experience to answer them. 🙂 I will also attach a word document with the same answers.


1. Do you define as a feminist and if not why not?
I wouldn’t be able to call myself a feminist, because I am a white male, and I have not been involved in activism for the last couple of years, instead devoting myself to scientific research. I can definitely call myself a strong proponent of feminism however, because I identify with left-wing Libertarian ideals, hence I deeply care for equality at all levels of society.

2. Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?I think EUSA should actively campaign for all matters of equality. A strong platform for women’s rights is very important. Such a platform should be weary of discriminating against non-activists, however, because this is sometimes a real danger. In any case, your cause is beautiful.On a separate note, I think EUSA should also campaign for the right of every student to learn at their own pace – this is the reason why I am running for the positon of VPAA.

3. EUSA has a no platform policy for rape apologists and the SWP. Do you think this is right and would you uphold it?I was honestly not aware of the issues concerning the SWP until now. Rape apologism is detestable. I completely endorse EUSA’s stance, and I trust its position on the SWP as well.

4. Are you pro-choice and would you propose any changes to the current abortion laws?There can be no question about it. A woman can do with her body whatever she finds right. I am not the one who should propose changes to abortion laws, but I would stand behind anything that endows individuals with more personal freedom.Best wishes,


Thomas Kerr

Dear Femsoc,

Thank you for your questions, here are my responses.

1. No, I do not define myself as a feminist, or any other ‘ist’ for that matter.  I believe in equal rights for all, and especially when it comes to equal (fair) pay.

2. Yes, and men’s rights, and the rights of any student who feel their rights are infringed in any way.

3. Rape apologists have no place in our University – this should be upheld.  Banning registered political parties is much more difficult, these matters should be dealt with on an issue by issue basis.

4. I am neither pro-choice or pro-life, the issues covered by these groups are complex and are often different for each person dealing with such matters – I do not see a need, at present, to change abortion laws.

Hope this is of some use.

Best wishes,

Tom Kerr

Calum Mackie

Hi Femsoc,

Really good to hear from you.  I have included answers to your questions below:

1.  Yes, I would say I am a feminist because I believe in true equality for all, and I strongly believe that women should be completely equal to men in all aspects of life.  One of my policies that I am passionate about to help combat any potential prejudice such as sexism is to ensure that anonymous marking is carried out throughout all departments within our University.

2.  I believe that EUSA should represent all students at the University of Edinburgh, and considering that more than half of our students are female I think that EUSA definitely has a responsibility to actively campaign for true equality and women’s rights.  I think one good way to support this would be to fight for the provision of free sanitary products for female students in certain parts of EUSA venues.  Condoms are frequently given out for free; why is this not the case for female sanitary products?

3.  I think this is an incredibly important policy and I would of course uphold it.

4.  I am certainly pro-choice; I strongly believe that the decision should be entirely down to each individual.  I think that pro-life viewpoints are alarmingly harmful, and should certainly have no place within EUSA.

If you have any more questions or are meeting up over the next week or so and would like to discuss anything in person, I would be more than happy to come along and have a chat over some of the things I have spoken about in this email.



Imogen Wilson

​Dear Femsoc,

Thanks for the questions. My answers are brief, but my feelings are strong.

1) Yes.

2) Yes. EUSA should be a political organisation, especially when it comes to liberation issues.

3) Yes. #SWPoffcampus.

4) Yes. I object to any restrictions on women’s rights to choose.

Imogen Wilson


Fraser Graham

Hi Femsoc,

Thank you for the questions, here are my answers.

1. Yes, I define as a feminist. I understand that having been born a cisgender white male I am massively privileged. That is  wrong. Having privilege puts me at an advantage, and because of that advantage I am in a position to advocate for the rights of others who aren’t. I can understand that I am not the perfect person to represent the views and struggles of women, because as a cis white male I couldn’t possibly understand the oppression women face on a daily basis. However, I will do everything I can to support everyone in society who calls for equality, as everyone deserves to be treated equally, and no-one should have to suffer oppression, discrimination or harassment because of who they are.

I would also like to add an apology. At the debate last night, the issue of the 5% tax on tampons was raised. I admit that until earlier the very same day, I was unaware that such a tax existed. As a cis white male, I did not realise that this was happening, and I fully support Urte’s idea of making sanitary products free until such a tax is repealed.

I also apologise that I didn’t hear the taunts being thrown at the back of the debating hall yesterday. As you can probably understand I was preoccupied with my own performance in the debates. That such a thing happened at the very heart of our student democracy sickens me, and I feel a full investigation should be made into these events, and how they can be prevented from recurring.

2. Of course. EUSA should actively campaign for the rights of anyone in our society who is opressed. Women make up a huge part of the Student body at our university, and EUSA should not stop actively campaigning for women’s, or anyone else’s rights until all are treated equally and no-one is oppressed for who they are.

3. Of course. Nobody should have the right to suggest that rape is not real, or that rape is the fault of the victim. Sex should only ever be between two or more fully informed and consenting adults. Anything other than that is rape. This is such a simple concept that it seems ludicrous that people don’t agree. I recently read an article which, for purposes of spelling out this idea, replaces sex with the analogy of a cup of tea. It seems shameful that such an article should need to exist in this day and age, and I find it disgusting that anyone should feel the need to make light of rape, or find it funny in any way.

4. I believe that a woman has the right to choose. Personally I would not propose changes, as I in no way educated or knowledgeable enough in current abortion laws to do so.

I hope these answers are satisfactory,

Fraser Graham

Urte Macikenaite

Hello Femsoc crew! Here are the answers to your questions!

1. Yes, unequivocally and unapologetically. I have been on the committee of FemSoc for two years. Developing my feminist views and learning to see things through the lens of gender politics has been one of the most important learning experiences of my time at university.

2. Yes! Our students’ union is many things, including a provider of services and events, a platform for societies, and a representative structure for students. I also believe it is and should be a political organisation, whose representatives actively campaign for a more equal and just society. Some of my main policies are about campaigning for women’s rights, including establishing a city-wide zero tolerance to sexual harassment pledge that clubs and venues around the city can sign up to, and a campaign to abolish the sexist 5% ‘luxury’ tax on sanitary products, with EUSA providing free sanitary products in the meantime.

3. Yes! Any organisation, including EUSA, has the right to decide that there are certain types of behaviour which are so against its aims and so harmful to its members that they will not be tolerated, and rape apologism is certainly among them.

4. Yes, I see being pro-choice as inseparable from being a feminist and an essential issue of women’s rights and human rights. I support any legal changes which make abortions more freely accessible and destigmatise seeking access to and information about abortions. I would also like to see Crisis Pregnancy Centres made illegal (these are organisations run by religious groups which provide counseling to women considering an abortion and usually pretend to be unbiased but employ psychologically manipulative tactics and disseminate false medical information to discourage abortion).

See you all soon!

Daniel Mullen

Hi! Here are the answers to the questions you asked us to answer. Hope they are of your liking and let me know if there is anything else I can do.

  1. My morals, views and opinions align themselves as a feminist under Emma Watson’s definition that feminism is “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”  Being an International Relations student and have actively read many papers regarding feminism I agree with Gillian Youngs in that “women and gender are essential to understanding the world “we” live in”. It is necessary to give the same opportunities and tools to any human being to strive in their lives regardless of their gender, race or culture.  I believe that it is important to work with those who define themselves as feminists to promote issues through EUSA that are important to them.

  1. Yes, I believe EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights. As VPS, I think that it is important to have EUSA stand firm and lead by example on women’s rights. I would work with societies and individuals to make sure that women’s rights issues have a safe place to be campaigned and discussed about to find necessary solutions.

  1. Regarding this question, during the presidential debates one proposal which I personally found particularly good was that of creating another sabbatical named “Welfare Officer”. I think this sabbatical position could have a very positive impact for finding the necessary tools and ways to advocate student welfare. I also believe that it is a necessity for EUSA to have a strong stance and policy against rape and sexual harassment. I believe that any rape apologists should go through a series of consequences including a disciplinary hearing public for everyone and a written statement apologising to the victims and to attend sexual harassment trainings to make sure it is never repeated again. I also believe that awareness is an important aspect of stopping rape. I would begin by making sure that all EUSA venue staff has the appropriate training so that they would be able help any student who finds themselves in the situation in the most anonymous way.

  1. Abortion should be solely the woman’s decision and she should be offered the necessary medical support if she decides to go through it.  The University must provide the appropriate counselling and welfare services to women that are going through this very challenging time.

Kind Regards,



Shuwanna Aaron

We haven’t received any reply for the moment.

Hannah Baker Millington

Hi Femsoc!

In answer to your question, yes, I am 1000% absolutely a Feminist and I always will be, and am fortunate enough to come from a line of very strong feminist women, one of whom was at Greenham Common!

I absolutely think EUSA should campaign for Women’s Rights – I am actively involved with the current push to get DKE off campus and I have no idea why EUSA wouldn’t campaign for them; women’s rights are human rights, there is no argument against it.

I think it’s completely right to no platform rape apologists and the SWP and I voted in favour of the motion to ban SWP from campus at Student Council last year; I would absolutely uphold it, as well as defending and upholding our safe space policy and enforcing our duty of care in light of the recent Sp!ked ‘debate’ – Rape apologists don’t deserve a platform at University when they already have far too much say in society as is and they put female students and staff in danger. The SWP have no place on campus as their rhetoric surrounding the rape case they are involved in is disgusting; there is already far too much sexism in the radical left and letting them have a space on campus would endanger female students and further alienate women from seeking out leftist political spaces, when women are already horrendously underrepresented in political circles.

To your last question, I am absolutely pro-choice and the only changes I would propose to make to the current abortion law is to make them more accessible. I come from Northern Ireland where abortion is pretty much completely illegal, and I’ve personally done a lot of work with the Belfast Feminist Network opposing the ‘pro-life’ hate group Precious Life and it’s leader Bernie Smyth and counter-protesting against them at the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast, which is currently the only clinic in Ireland. I hope to see changes in abortion law in Northern Ireland, which currently utilises regulation from 1851 and carries a life sentence for any doctor or nurse SUSPECTED of aiding abortion.

I hope this has adequately answered any questions you have! I’d be more than happy to talk through them more in depth as well if you’d like!

Best wishes,


Iqbal Fatkhi

Dear Femsoc team,

I’d like to first thank you for coming to me to get my thoughts on the questions asked, and I would also like to apologise for taking so long to respond to you.

1. Do you define as a feminist and if not why not?
Undoubtedly so. Speaking as a sibling to two older sisters and with a mother I can credit as being the reason I’ve always dreamt of coming to law school, I believe in nothing short of the equality of gender in society. Although I don’t self-identify as a woman, I’d like to consider myself an ally to the movement and a staunch believer in its ideals. Gender inequalities promote overall systematic inequalities, neither of which belong in the 21st Century.

2. Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?
Yes, absolutely. As our student union, EUSA is indeed an appropriate avenue for student voices to be amplified and heard. Further, the women’s campaign has done great work with Reclaim the Night, combatting lad culture on campus, and enforcing its policy of zero tolerance. If elected to be Vice-President of Societies and Activities, I will support and encourage whatever campaigns the women’s liberation group would seek to run. EUSA has a duty to maintain the safe space of its members, while also going beyond that to actively promote the full realisation of women’s rights on our campus.

3. EUSA has a no platform policy for rape apologists and the SWP. Do you think this is right and would you uphold it?
This is fully right, and our student union would be wrong to provide rape apologists a forum in violation of its safe spaces. Whether or not I am elected VPSA, I do agree with this policy and would do my utmost to support it.

4. Are you pro-choice and would you propose any changes to the current abortion laws?
I am most certainly pro-choice. Women have historically been denied their bodily integrity (including their right to reproductive freedom) which is both unacceptable and incompatible to ideals of fundamental human rights. Women should be able to decide when and if they want a child, and if I had to make any suggestions to the current abortion laws in the UK, I would like to see the requirement for two doctor approvals removed for abortion procedures to commence. I’m not incredibly familiar with funding for the procedure on the NHS, but I believe that access should be ensured regardless of a woman’s financial situation, and should always be free of cost.

Hope this helps, and I’d be more than happy to answer any further questions.

Kind regards,

Kashish Kacheria


Thanks for writing to me. Here are my answers to your questions and I hope this helps you make a more informed voting decision.

1.    Do you define as a feminist and if not why not?
I definitely define as a feminist.

2. Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?
Even today, women constantly struggle for some basic rights and equal representation. I believe these issues should be taken very seriously and the only way we can foster gender equality and respect for women on campus is if EUSA actively campaigns for women’s rights. However, I think a more innovative and immersive approach is needed which calls for active participation of University students.

3. EUSA has a no platform policy for rape apologists and the SWP. Do you think this is right and would you uphold it?
I very much support the no platform policy for rape apologists and the SWP. I believe, the party had no right to investigate the allegation internally, rather than through the police and this is the most ridiculous  aspect of the case. Would it really be the same if it was murder? Moreover, it is important to note that more than apologism the party engages in denial, which in some senses is even worse and shows the party’s stand on women’s rights. Any party that does not take rape allegations or the oppression of women seriously is built around a culture of misogyny, which is definitely not something EUSA should support.

4. Are you pro-choice and would you propose any changes to the current abortion laws?
Yes I am pro-choice and believe that a woman has the right to decide whether she wants to put her mind and body through the experience of child birth. Current UK abortion law gives doctors (2 in every case) the authority to decide whether or not an abortion can legally be performed  necessitating regulation by medical “experts” on women’s reproductive decisions. I think this is outlandish and in early stages of pregnancy the woman alone should have the right to make decisions about what is going to happen to her body.

Conor Matchett

Hello FemSoc,

Good to hear from you! Hope all is going well with AGM and reregistration season around the corner.

First of all i’d like to say that your questions are very important, and are especially relevant to the position i’m running for, VPSA, which covers welfare and liberation in it’s remit. Here are my answers!

1. Yes!

2. Yes! One of my flagship policies is looking into the lack of minority groups in academia through a University-wide survey, which will then inform policy to improve the representation of said groups in academia. This includes women, as a 2nd year Philosophy student i can only name 3 female lecturers, and i think that’s appalling considering the balance in the course. Last year, 60% of Edinburgh graduates were women, yet this isn’t converted into teaching and further education beyond undergraduate. I want to know why, and then I will improve the situation. In addition, it would be wrong for me to lead the discussion, and the survey alongside appropriate conveners and societies would lead policy making, i will be an enabler. On top of that, a more general campaign for women’s rights should be a top priority for EUSA on a broader scale than just on campus.

3. I would uphold it, and i do think it’s a right. This country and this university unfortunately suffers from rape culture, and people who defend rapists are not welcome on campus. People should feel safe on campus, and allowing the SWP on campus would stop that. In addition, as a section editor on The Student, i felt the way the SWP dealt with allegations was cowardly, and that that issue should have been printed in full without risk of legal action.

4. I am pro-choice for the sole reason that a woman should have full control over her body. However, legally speaking there has to be a cutoff for when abortions are carried out, and i think 24 weeks is currently an okay compromise. I do feel abortions should be more readily available, less beauracratic and come with far more support. However, as a man, I don’t feel that it would be appropriate for my opinion to inform policy, so if EUSA was to make a statement for changing abortion laws, it would be done after talking to women, and would not under any circumstances be just my personal opinion.

Hope that helps, a lot of my policies are also heavily involved in restructuring how EUSA works with societies, and as an office bearer myself i understand and share a lot of gripes you may also hold, so please have a read of my manifesto here (https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/elections/manifesto/933/​).

Thank you again for getting in contact!

Conor Matchett

Andy Peel

Hi Femsoc!

Thanks for your message and for taking such an active interest in the elections and candidates. I think it’s brilliant that you want to know more about the candidates with respect to issues you are passionate about. Please find below my answers to your questions.

1) Yes, I would define myself as a feminist. Although I am not actively engaged in feminist campaigning, because I feel that should be led by those affected by structural oppression, I do advocate equality for all. This includes equality based on gender, race, disability and sexuality just to name 4.

2) Yes, I believe EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights. I think EUSA has a responsibility to campaign for equal rights in all senses and I think active campaigning is vital in reaching equality.

3) I am a firm believer in free speech. However, I must emphasise that any appearance of a speaker in this situation should ONLY be in a forum where their views can be contested and opposed. I believe this is important because it highlights the weaknesses of such a perspective and may lead to people questioning their own views and actions more carefully.

4) I am pro-choice. With respect to the law, the UK has relatively restrictive legislation limiting abortion to certain cases. I do think the UK laws should be relaxed, however, having studied Medical Ethics as a part of my degree this would have to be followed by strict regulation; something which is tricky to both devise and implement. However, I do believe moving towards more progressive policies like those of Sweden and Norway is possible and can be achieved.

I hope my answers are sufficient and I look forward to working alongside Femsoc, should I be elected.

Best wises,



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