Our student blogger Laurice is part of the Respect the No Campaign, where she holds the post of Outreach Officer on the Medway Campus. This year’s International Women’s Day is all about #EmbracingEquity, so Laurice met up with Kristina Gonzato, President of Respect the No, a student society that specialises in the promotion of consent on campus.
Laurice: First question, why did you join Respect the No? Tell us a little about the history of the society.
Kristina: So, Respect the No was actually founded in 2017 by Katia, in light of the #MeToo movement and I joined RTN in the beginning of my second year because I’m very passionate of the cause that they’re fighting and bringing awareness for. I also wanted to join a society that wanted to welcome everybody.
Laurice: Now that you’re in your final year, what do you hope to achieve through your role in Respect the No?
Kristina: Well throughout RTN, we hope to achieve a better understanding of consent and facilitate the creation of a safe space for survivors of any kind.
Laurice: Do you think so far, have you met your goals yet?
Kristina: I think we are getting close to meeting our goals, there has been a lot of work behind the scenes by our social secretary, Cerys, on creating a good connection with Kent Police to ensure safety on campus and in town.
Laurice: What have been the most poignant moments for you being a part of the society?
Kristina: I would say the most poignant moment in this academic year especially, would have to be the talk about spiking awareness and ‘how to be an active bystander’, done in collaboration with LSSJ and Kent Police.
Laurice: And why do you think it’s really important for students, like yourself, to get on board and take on these representative positions?
Kristina: Well, I think it’s important to get on board because it allows you to gain different perspectives around the topic and being in a representative position gives you the opportunity to amplify voices and opinions, especially student ones in this case, and make a change for the better.
Laurice: Why do you think Respect the No at Medway campus specifically is important and essential?
Kristina: I think Respect the No in Medway is integral because it could give the students of that campus a way to create a community and a place of support, which I believe are essential for a good campus.
Laurice: How has things around the community, particularly for women and girls, have improved since the launch of RTN? Things surrounding consent, and all of that.
Kristina: I believe they have improved but like everything, it can always be better. That’s why our social secretary, Cerys has been working closely with Kent police to improve the safety provided on campus.
Laurice: In light of the campaign for International Women’s Day, what does ‘embracing equity’ mean to you? And what do you think we should we all be doing to achieve this?
Kristina: Embracing Equity to me means creating an environment where inclusivity, kindness and understanding can thrive, which is something we are actively doing with RTN, as we’re not just a space for women, we welcome everyone. We are here for you and so is the uni. So, I think a thing we should all do for International Women’s Day is being an active bystander and practice kindness, both to ourselves and others.
Laurice: What are your future plans for Respect the No?
Kristina: Our future plans for RTN is creating a strong relationship with Kent police as well as providing more support to students both at Canterbury and Medway Campus. And also creating relationships with the two other unis (Greenwich and Canterbury Christ Church) around here – just a big community so everybody can feel safe.
Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #EmbraceEquity.