Inspirational Student: Shamar Gunning

Shamar Gunning is a final year English Literature student from East London. She is incredibly inspirational because of not only her commitment to opening up discussions otherwise disregarded by the university, but in her passion for advancing feminist issues. She is an utter driving force for equality, evident in her leadership of the Feminist Society coupled with her role as a BME Success Advocate. She is such a breath of fresh air, and an asset to the university community, which is why she deserves to be acknowledged as an inspirational student. 

Just read on, and see for yourself how amazing Shamar is! 


What are you most passionate about changing here at UoB?


I think the university is in a constant state of change away from the colonialist, misogynistic mindset of traditional higher education. I want to ensure that the experience of all the students at this university is the best it can possibly be; whether they are womxn, an ethnic minority, disabled, or subject to any form of discrimination. Currently, many students feel sidelined by the university. We aim to change this, by bringing up uncomfortable conversations with those in positions of authority. 


What are you and your society most proud of achieving, and why?


I’m most proud of us for opening up multiple conversations about topics that are not given time and space in the traditional university arena. 

One of my absolute favourite events was one I ran last year for international women’s day about the Hijab. This event gave a platform to some incredible young Muslim women who are often silenced in the conversation discussing their own autonomy. 

Another event I truly loved was our Gender and Climate Change event where we had a panel of student activists from different societies, all speaking about the relationship between feminism and eco-activism. I think this event helped many people understand the small changes they can make in their own lies and raised some pertinent questions about privilege in the environmental movement. 

What I think is most clear about our work is that there is space for it on campus and people do care about the issues we raise awareness about. 


What goals do you have for the future within your society?


I hope that we will be one of the first places that students and other societies fo to when they have an issue that they are struggling to get support from the university. We have facilitated multiple campaigns in the university to make practical changes to the legislature and rules around who is protected by the university and who is not.

I hope that our student society becomes a constant community and that people can feel they are comfortable to talk about issues that affect them rather than isolating themselves. Currently, I am working to set up a regular group for women of colour on campus to talk about their mental health, which in the current climate on campus, is clearly needed. Often when young people come to university, they feel their most lonely; in a new city with new people. Joining societies such as ours can help create a system of support and encourage conversation. 


What motivates you to do the work you do? 

I feel truly motivated by all the womxn I see around me every day. All the work I have done would be impossible without the support ad collaboration of other students at this university. My parents, and in particular my mother, were the first feminists I ever knew. Growing up seeing the strong women that came before me makes me want to be one for the generations that follow. I feel that it is our responsibility to put things in place to help make this change even more effective.