Current student Jay Dickens joined ULaw to study the LLB at our Leeds campus. There he founded the LGBTQ+ Network. We caught up with Jay to discuss his aims for the Network, his plans for the future and the importance of LGBTQ+ representation.
ULaw really appealed to me as it is not a traditional university. You are taught by practising or ex-practising professionals, and the support is fantastic. After being a teaching assistant, it was time to get a degree, and law interested me. I had studied it previously and really enjoyed it.
I came to university a bit later than some as I completed a Foundation Year with ULaw. During the Foundation Year, I noticed there was little representation across ULaw, so I decided to establish an LGBTQ+ Network at the Leeds campus. My vision was to roll it out cross-campus and create a huge LGBTQ+ Network across ULaw. My role as the Student Association (SA) LGBTQ+ Officer is a brilliant position to do this and allows me to make bigger changes across ULaw. I hope to achieve a more inclusive and diverse space for students and staff.
The Network has many events planned throughout the year. But, by far, the highlight for me is the fantastic monthly ‘An interview with...’ events where we speak to members of the legal sphere and learn about their experience in law.
I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved at ULaw. I never thought I would go to university and it is only because of a dear late friend and amazing colleague that I am here today. As a representative, the work I do has given so much back and, I would argue, improved my grades as it gives me that balance. As cheesy as it sounds, it really is true; the more you put in, the more you get back.
My advice to students thinking of joining the LGBTQ+ Network is to do it. Please join; it gives you a whole network of people to meet with who you may never have met otherwise. The people love you for who you are and not just because ‘you’re in their workshop group’. We really want to encourage allies to join too. If you aren’t part of the LGBTQ+ family yourself but strongly support it, then please join. Allies are essential to our work, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them. Some of my best friends are from the network and not just from the tutor groups.
LGBTQ+ diversity is incredibly important not only for equality but to show those who are afraid to tell others who they are that they are supported and loved and always have a support network to fall back on.
Students can show their support for diversity by joining a society and getting involved. For example, the new pronouns policy; the addition of 2/3 words outlining your preferred pronouns at the bottom of an email or when introducing yourself to someone can make all the difference to those struggling with their gender identity, or those you are part of the Trans family.
Asking what my ambitions are is a big question, and my partner would probably say, ‘oh no, don’t ask him that.’ Broadly speaking, I really want to affect change and make a difference in people's lives. I want to help people and make the world a better place.
Don’t let uncertainty hold you back, discover how we can support your ambition today.