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The lead up to University Court, which was initially expected to be fairly uneventful, saw the Students’ Union rocked by a battle of egos and legacies.
“University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” I am loath to reference this, because Henry Kissinger has been much overused in Lancaster University Students’ Union of late; admittedly largely by officers who have been hard done to rather than a frazzled reporter from the newspaper.
But, in my humble opinion, this quotation has never been more accurately applied than to the events within LUSU over the last week. It’s nothing to do with the small stakes – in fact, anyone who thinks that students’ unions deal in small stakes is an idiot.
I refer, in fact, to the viciousness of university politics. Because this week, in trying to write a story about a motion proposed to University Court, I’ve encountered an awful lot of it.
Accusations of all sorts of unseemly behaviour have been given to me, on a strictly off-the-record basis. To go into the whole affair now would be terrible, never mind libelous. Different people have taken me to one side and told me that I’m being leant on while I put this story together. I expect I have. The problem is – I’m just not sure who by.
One truth can be taken from the events, however: the motion proposed to University Court was overshadowed by egos, pride and one-upmanship. A motion that aimed to create a working group to discuss the increase in tuition fees was a bold and necessary move at best; poorly thought out at worst.
Yes, there were holes in the proposal. Yes, the choice of seconders for the motion was not ideal and arguably led to all the trouble. However, debate never took place beforehand – few recommendations for change were even made to those behind the motion. It was all left for Court, and something that could have been beneficial was forgotten.
Instead, I’m left here thinking that current and former officers have let me down. I didn’t vote for an officer to lie to me, or for an officer to decide what was best for me without asking.
Reasons why the Students’ Union President made the decision to speak against the motion will remain something I am unable to report, as no-one will go on the record and tell me. Why was this motion, one that created another channel of communication between the University and LUSU, a bad idea? I cannot give you the answer.
If this is how officers represent us students – by airing the dirty laundry of the squabbles and egos of the union in public places; by failing to consult us on the most basic of issues; and by ruining old and new relationships through rumours and lies – then I don’t want it.
The problem with university politics is that people assume the stakes to be small, and behave as if none of this matters any more than their own reputations. When students are about to be paying £9,000 a year for a degree, I don’t consider the stakes to be at all small.
“It’s a sad day for the students’ union” was reportedly uttered by an unknown in the food queue after University Court. She is completely right. The day where a students’ union, and those who purport to care about it, forget who they are meant to represent at the expense of defending their own reputations and legacies is a sad day indeed.