If NUI Galway’s management was under any illusion that the setting up of a task force had dissipated anger regarding it’s approach towards gender equality, then the sight of another large protest and the draping of the front of the quadrangle in a 40 foot banner proclaiming “81% male” will have left them in no doubt that this is an issue that is not going to sweep under the carpet easily.
Despite the inclement weather, a large gathering of staff and students, in jovial mood, once again got the message across that the university must be seen to take decisive action and not merely promise it. Since the announcement of the setting up of a new task force there had been significant disappointment regarding the university’s decision to again favour closed door appointments over transparency and clarity. Despite demands from unions and the gender equality campaign and concerns raised by local TD Derek Nolan, there was no consultation with independent bodies or unions and no independent representation had been granted to the task force.
The feeling of disappointment and frustration again transformed itself into positive action as staff and students gathered from 2.30pm and chanted heartily while members of the 81% male academic council arrived. A motion was before the academic council to promote the 5 women who were deemed eligible but left unpromoted in the ‘ramshackle’ 2009 round of promotions. However, in a move befitting a university that in 2012 and 2013 spent €142,311 on legal fees and is currently spending more money appealing another case it lost on the grounds of gender equality, it again chose to hide behind ‘legal’ restraints as the motion was deemed ineligible on legal grounds. It certainly seems that if the university invested as much in gender equality as it does in legal advise it would be a world leader in equality rather than one of the worst in the western world.
However, the deeming of the motion as ineligible did raise another important question. If neither the Governing Body nor the Academic Council holds any real power in NUI Galway, then who exactly does? Who is it that is making the decisions that count in NUI Galway? Who is it that can be held accountable?
When a task force is set up, who decides who will be on it and what it’s remit will be?
Its certainly not staff or students or their representative bodies or the Governing Authority or The Academic Council.
So then who?
Will the moment of transparency ever come?
That’s not an easy question to answer, but one thing is clear – the movement for change will continue to grow until the university takes note.