Belfast Telegraph

QUB student and Eva Grosman lock horns over £275 conference price

By Claire O'Boyle

Campaigner Eva Grosman has become embroiled in an online spat after suggesting a political activist could volunteer at a conference if she couldn't afford the £275 ticket.

Sarah Wright, who studies politics at Queen's University, told the CEO at the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building to "jog on" in response to her offer, and a row erupted on the women's online platforms.

Ms Wright posted on Twitter: "How many activists on a low income, carers, students, women could afford £275 to attend? I've yet to receive a response to my question about bursaries/free places. Instead I've been informed I can 'volunteer' and provide free labour in order to access the event."

In response, Ms Grosman, who describes herself as "A Change Agent. A Catalyst. A Global Soul" on her blog, hit back at what she said was a "complete lack of manners" and a sense of "entitlement".

She wrote: "Just last week, I have been approached by a Queen's University student and political activist who wanted to attend an international conference, but the ticket price was unaffordable. As I was trying to find a pragmatic solution, I mentioned that there are volunteering opportunities.

"My suggestion was met with complete rage. I was told to "jog on" for proposing volunteering as a way of taking part in the conference. I was ridiculed and soon others engaged in the discussion about the conference accessibility, barriers for women and those on a low income. Someone also suggested that those with significant disabilities would be too exhausted by volunteering and wouldn't learn anything. And how dare I suggest that by volunteering students should provide a free labour.

"I have two problems with this exchange. First of all - a complete lack of manners. "Jog on?" Is it really the best way to negotiate a potential opportunity? Secondly - the attitude. Good manners and good attitude will be futureproof... Bad attitude and sense of entitlement meanwhile will take you nowhere."

Ms Grosman added: "We all heard before the old proverb: 'Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime'. Well, it seems to me that some people are not interested in learning how to fish nor even putting time or effort into fishing. They just want the fish delivered. Daily. Prepared and cooked. And preferably by a Michelin-star chef."

In response to the blog, Ms Wright told friends on Facebook: "All because I said 'jog on' when offered a volunteering position privately after enquiring about free/subsidised spaces. No steps to lessen barriers for anyone else wanting to attend. I expect it was offered to shut me up."

The event at the heart of the row is the Peace and Beyond conference being held in Belfast on April 10-12 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

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