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Fifth Annual Equality Week becomes First to go Virtual

Maebh McCarthy, Deputy News Editor

UCC recently held its fifth annual Equality Week. The events were organised by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit (EDI), in collaboration with UCC staff, students, societies and social justice groups.  Despite taking place in a solely virtual sphere this year, Equality Week saw a range of live events being held, as well as additional activities, such as recipe exchanges, recommended reads and podcasts. When announcing the line-up of events to students, the EDI explained that they had “a broad range of events and hope that you will find something to pique your interest. The events touch on a variety of areas, including gender, race & ethnicity, LGBT+, disability, precarity of employment to name some.  The offerings also will range from introductory lunchtime sessions to in-depth explorations on the topics.”

The week began with a lunchtime event titled “Conversations on Racism in Ireland” that was organised by Dr. Amanullah De Sondy, who is the Director of NASC Ireland, as well as being a Senior Lecturer in UCC and the Chair of Race Equality in UCC. This conversation was heard from representatives from University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin and the Irish Traveller Movement.

Dr. Louise Crowley, a senior Law Lecturer and Director of the UCC Bystander Intervention Programme, spoke with Kelsey Longe and Orna Little from UCC Chaplaincy about the importance of the Bystander Intervention Training from a staff perspective. They also covered the Disability Support Services (DSS) in UCC for Academics. The DSS held a second event later in the week, titled “Lunchtime 101 – Mobility.”

As well as panel discussions, there were seminars delivered by UCC Staff Members. Dr. Emma Hurley from UCC’s ‘Learning to Live’, which is an Erasmus funded project, delivered a seminar entitled “One Single Story.” “Gender, labour and precarity: oral history narratives” was another event held over the course of the week. This discussion saw authors and commentators collaborate in a panel discussion, chaired by Dr. Cliona O’Carroll of UCC. Dr. Christie Godsmark, from UCC’s School of Public Health and Environmental Research Institute, explored the interconnectivity between climate change, health and vulnerability with UCC Law Lecturer, Dr. Dug Cubie for a morning session. 

There were also film screenings and discussions held during the evening slots. James Mulvey from the UCC Film & Screen Media Department, in collaboration with UCC LGBT+ Staff Network, held a screening and discussion on the film “And Then We Danced.” There was also a screening of the short film “White Horse”, by Shaun O’Connor, a UCC alumnus. This film is in contention for an Academy Award this year. The screening was followed by a lecture by Senator Fintan Warfield, who spoke about his legislative proposal to ban so called “conversion therapy” in Ireland, which was identified as a key action in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs’ LGBTI+ Youth Strategy. Both Shaun O’Connor and Senator Warfield joined the EDI Unit for a ‘Q&A session.’ 

The penultimate lunchtime discussion on the final day of Equality Week 2021 explored what was meant by ‘Inclusion Health’. This event was hosted by the Inclusion Health Research Group and the EDI. The week was concluded with an event organised by Douglass Week Cork, which reflected on Douglass Week 2021. This event was a discussion on Frederick Douglass, an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer and statesman, and his ties to Cork and Ireland. There was a special focus during this year’s campaign on Douglass’ ties to Cork City and County.

Even though this year’s Equality Week was completely different to previous years, with the lack of in person, on campus discussion, it was nonetheless a challenging, interesting and enlightening week.