3 May

Women’s Institute goes to Uni

first_imgThe Women’s Institute (WI) has experienced a year of heightened student interest, with the establishment of first two University branches and requests to set up a branch in Oxford. The WI, which is an organisation established to provide women with educational opportunities, has been already established at Goldmith’s University and King’s college London.There have been many positive responses to this news in Oxford. A representative of Oxford Women in Politics, Marta Szczerba, stated that she is “positive about the idea of Women’s Institute cooperating with Universities around the UK” and praised the fact that “Women’s Institute has been a force in campaigning against women’s violence”. Other current national campaigns include ‘Women and Climate Change Campaign’ and ‘Care Not Custody’ for the mentally ill.This support was echoed by Cynthia Chang, a DPhil student at Christ Church, and a representative of Females in Science, Engineering and Technology. Chang said that women often “need a network” and that there would probably be a “significant proportion” of women students at Oxford who would be interested in “producing things with their own hands”.However, some students were less enthused. Rachel Harrison, of Christ Church College, pointed out that the organisation carried the negative stereotype of “being for old people”. Sara Stafford, also of Christ Church, thought that it was “not a good idea” and probably “wouldn’t be very popular”. She went on to say that she felt Oxford “has enough volunteering groups”.Many Oxford students have agreed that the opportunity to engage in activities such as learning how to make tie-dyed sustainable shopping bags and how to knit iPod cases fills a niche not currently occupied by the various clubs and societies in Oxford. Angharad Scott, St Anne’s College, enthusiastically supported the idea of an Oxford group, and said that she thought it sounded “really cool” as long as it had nothing to do with “tea towels and cabbages”.While the image of the WI may not fit in with that of the typical student society, India Volkers, the founder and President of Goldsmith’s WI, emphasised the benefits of membership. “Starting a WI has meant that my friends and I are able to learn useful practical skills that we may not otherwise have been taught.”The President of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes argued that getting involved with the WI could provide women with key skills pointing out, “students are under increasing pressure these days to have additional skills as well as their degree, and the WI offers women the chance to learn new skills that they wouldn’t normally have access to.”last_img read more