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Dr Rhian Elinor Keyse (University of Exeter)

31 January 2020

Election address

I am a Postgraduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Exeter, where I recently completed my PhD in the department of History. My research is focused on violence against women, at the intersections of race, colonialism, age, and gender. I have worked as an hourly paid teacher since 2013, and as a working-class, disabled woman, I know how the harms of precarity intersect with other forms of oppression, and I, like too many in our sector, bear the deep scars of casualisation.

Since becoming actively involved in UCU in 2018, I have been a committed local and national activist. Nationally, I have been a member of the Anti-Casualisation Committee since 2019, and was a Congress Delegate in 2018 and 2019. Locally, I have been Vice-President of my branch since 2018, having become Exeter's first Anti-Casualisation Officer earlier that same year. I have spearheaded local anti-casualisation campaigns including our September 2019 local claim, and co-founded Exeter UCU's Anti-Casualisation activist network.

I have a long history of feminist activism. Immediately before my PhD I managed several domestic abuse advocacy projects. I have continued to work in the field of gender-based violence alongside my PhD, as a high-risk domestic abuse worker, and setting up a support programme for homeless women who have experienced sexual violence and exploitation. As an undergraduate, I was a co-founding member of a Rape Crisis Centre and the Students' Union Women's Welfare Officer, successfully campaigning to get senior members of staff appropriately trained to deal with sexual and domestic violence. My work and campaigning history demonstrate a genuine commitment to representing women, and  I have an in-depth, practically focused understanding of gender-based oppression and how it intersects with industrial discrimination, through issues such as domestic and sexual violence, harassment, precarity, and disability.

I am standing for Women's Representative on the NEC because I believe we still have a long way to go to tackle gender-based discrimination, both within our workplaces and within our union. I recognise that precariously-employed women often bear the brunt of such discrimination. As an NEC member I would be a strong voice for survivors of violence, the precariously employed, and disabled women, and pledge to stand in unwavering solidarity with trans* and non-binary comrades, women of colour, and migrant members. As well as campaigning to tackle harassment and violence at work, I would strongly advocate for UCU to improve its own internal mechanisms for dealing with complaints, ensuring a trauma-informed and intersectional approach that foregrounds survivors' needs. I am a fierce advocate of improved democracy within the union, and commit to publishing my own voting record whilst pushing for greater accountability and transparency overall.

Last updated: 29 January 2020