Months after the Central Societies Committee (CSC) denied Dublin University Gender Equality Society’s (DUGES) request to change names, the society has been started to informally refer to itself as the Feminist Society (Fem Soc).
DUGES has taken to colloquially calling itself Fem Soc, using the name frequently in Facebook posts and in publications.
The committee’s Treasuer, Aoife Stephens, told The University Times that this action was not taken with the wishes of the CSC in mind, but with the wishes of the society members.
“We wanted to be able to change our name officially and we weren’t able to do that. The best we can do is use the name [Fem Soc] colloquially. Our members prefer that name, they mandated us to try and change it.”
Over the last few months, members have started to adopt Fem Soc instead of DUGES. The puzzlement of the general student body as to what exactly “DUGES” stands for has proven to be far more problematic that any confusion that has arisen in the course of the society operating under two distinct names, according to Stephens. Though new members sometimes have to be made aware that DUGES and Fem Soc are in fact the same group, “most of our members have been around for a while and they relate to the use of the name Fem Soc more”, said Stephens.
A CSC vote to officially change the name of the society from DUGES to Fem Soc failed in October of last year, with the CSC citing the constitutional ban on societies taking political stances.
At off-campus events, the society has encountered consternation as it tries to explain its name to other groups. “People don’t call themselves gender egalitarians, they call themselves feminists. You tell them about DUGES and they ask, ‘what’s DUGES?’, Stephens continued, stating that people neither outside or inside the college “get it”.
Whether the issue of a name change will be brought up again is a matter for DUGES’s next committee to contend with, said Stephens. The CSC “didn’t have a problem with” the use of Fem Soc, she said. “They just said we couldn’t change our name. Officially.”
“It would be unconstitutional for any society to include the word feminists”, Fiona May, the Secretary of the CSC told The University Times last year. Benn Ó hÓgáin, the current Chair of the CSC, expressed similar apprehensions after the vote in October. He stated that to adhere to the wishes of DUGES members would be to “imperil the future” of the society.
The decision of the CSC not to allow the name change drew much criticism at the time of the vote. Stephens said that although “gender equality is a political thing, it’s also a personal thing”.
“DUGES as a body is completely apolitical. Any political activism that members do is not under the banner of DUGES, it has to be in a personal capacity”, she said.
Correction: February 9th, 2017
An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Aoife Stephens as Aoife Stevens. This has since been corrected.