Are we all equal?
Social justice is a complicated subject. It’s not just about what we have or don’t have. We are all individuals and experience the world in a different way, but it’s really important that we have equal access to education, work, health services, regardless of where we live, our age, our physical abilities, our marital status, our gender, our sexuality, our ethnicity, our neurodiversity… the list about how we are regarded by society is a long and complicated one.
Recently, COVID has highlighted inequalities because of the need to study and work from home even though we don’t all have the same facilities – whether that’s space, wi-fi access, or digital equipment. Equally, news reports are telling us that the climate crisis is disproportionately affecting people with disabilities as we see the costs of services and equipment rise. Is it enough to be aware of these differences, or do we have a responsibility to fight for change? How should we go about doing that? These are huge questions to which there are no easy answers.
Difference is good
One of the ways to challenge the status quo is to embrace our differences. Sophie Hudson is a law student and Vice President of the 93 percent club which encourages students from less privileged backgrounds to recognise and value the skills they have. Watch this inspiring clip of an interview with Sophie explaining how our experiences before coming to university can have a big impact on our confidence levels.
The Right to Protest
There are other ways to take a stand, and we know from our recent polls on social media that many of you would choose to actively demonstrate when you are feeling dissatisfied. However, the right to hold a protest has recently been called into question and here, our student content writer Victoria Cornelio Diaz provides an excellent overview of the “Kill the Bill” protests that have taken place in the city during the last twelve months.
“In March of 2021, the city of Bristol came together to protest against the new proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Over 500 protesters marched in the city centre to show their disapproval. One last display was carried out in January 2022 as a final effort to battle the Bill which was introduced for voting on January 17. This resistance against the Bill comes from the implications the Bill would have on protesting rights and police behaviour, which has led to advocates and protestors to ask the government to “Kill the Bill”. Just in Bristol, Twitter user Martin Booth reports that there have been 15 ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstrations in the last year.
If the Bill were to be accepted, these are some of the impacts it would have on protests and the safety of those involved:
– Police can act against a group of people they believe will cause significant disruption and charge them with prison sentences.
– Police can forcibly shut down protests and public assemblies.
– Stop and Search actions could become more widespread, based on police’s suspicion.
The Bill is described by many protestors as a violation of the human right to free speech and a danger to democracy. Government officials defend the Bill by saying it is a way of balancing the rights of protestors and the rights of people who want to go about their day without disruption. However, for a city like Bristol with a longstanding history of protest and social justice movements, if parliament does not “Kill the Bill”, the landscape of the city’s advocacy movements will see major disruption.”
Victoria Cornelio Diaz, Student Communications Champion
Picture from bristolpost.co.uk, Sunday March 21, 2021
A Guantanamo Conversation
Bristol is generally known as a liberal city, and the UK is a democratic society, however even then we don’t always get to hear all sides of a story. On 3 March you can listen to three different perspectives when the Law School’s Human Rights Implementation Centre will host a conversation with Mohamedou Ould Slahi who was tortured and detained at Guantanamo Bay for 14 years without charge, Nancy Hollander, the defence lawyer who represented him and secured his freedom in 2016, and Professor Sir Malcolm Evans,the former Chair of the UN’s Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture. Book your ticket here.
Hungry for more?
If Social Justice fires up your passion then head to the School of Policy Studies events page and find out about their forthcoming talks. There are some fascinating topics coming up, (as well as the opportunity to find out first-hand whether Jess Phillips can hold her own as a speaker!).
We hope you enjoy the World Day of Social Justice, whatever you’re doing. And please stay safe from Storm Eunice 😊