By Rory Morrow
Joining a new society, congregating with people who already do so chummily, is never easy. Even the coolest of cucumbers will harbour some hidden hesitation about joining not merely a new club, but a fresh social sphere of students, for the first time.
Anyone who has been a part of a society or club during their time at Queen’s will be nostalgically familiar with the process. I experienced it with QUB Athletics Club a lifetime ago in my covid- sorry first- year.
Down the line, more and more societies are approachable and welcoming to fresh-faced freshers – in particular, the QUB Feminist & Equality Society, led with gusto by Roisin Keenan, President.
Their first major event came at the start of October in the Peter Froggatt Centre (PFC). It was announced as “Get to know the FemSoc” – and get to know them we did!
It began, as all good things in life do; with pizza. The committee introduced themselves, proudly displaying FemSoc t-shirts from their merch line released earlier this year, before delving straight into a myth-busting exercise about feminism.
This informatively interactive exercise immediately dispelled any freshers’ nerves. The potential kryptonite of the topic was offset by plenty of laughs alongside the more serious stuff. Although most attendees were female, there was an encouraging male turnout as well. Writing as a male student myself, I would encourage anyone to go along, just as I was encouraged by my good friend and (he’ll hate me saying this) “campus celebrity”, Matthew Taylor.
Just like their content, the events that the society’s has on offer throughout the year strike a sweet spot of balance; a healthy blend of actively tackling student wellbeing and an upgraded version of tutorials, whereby there is actual engagement alongside education! Yes! We want more of this good thing! Like tempting traybake samples in a bakery, refill it right away please! It seems we are in luck, as a great range have been planned for the year ahead.
For those seeking to better inform themselves on the entire concept of feminism, this is FREE EDUCATION! These important issues; the safety of women on our streets, or gender-inclusive identities, are worthy of being informed on!
For instance, their biweekly drop-in coffee and chats facilitate anonymous submission of problems into a hat, randomly drawn, and discussed as a group. A kind of semi-public facing QUB Nightline if you will.
Buzzwords and personal thoughts echoed around the PFC as it came to display an ever-widening meaning. Some of which encompassed empowerment, equality, activism and to me, most strikingly of all, a sense of reclaiming personal power.
Their 3 E’s – Education, Enjoyment and Empowerment – were clearly conveyed throughout. Feminism itself, was defined transparently and inclusively as:
“The belief that everyone, no matter their gender, should be treated equally economically, socially and politically”
For a society that was only established two years ago, they have caught the the crest of a wave and are surfing sweetly now. Receiving over 500 signups at the Freshers Fair, (annoyingly stealing all the people who secretly really wanted to join the Gown), their membership totals at the second highest of any club and society at Queen’s over that week!
Roughly 100 keen individuals attended the “Get to know them” event, and I would be astonished if any left without feeling at least a little bit more informed, empowered, and educated afterwards!
Fronting a movement that has historically divided opinion, the Feminist & Equality Society at QUB, is one that is moving with the modern times, promoting an inclusive identity of itself and as a result, is reaping the rewards for it.