A failure to communicate


Communication was the order of the day at Union Council this week – or rather the lack of it. Councillors were given a presentation on the subject of “What our members think about what we think matters,” were informed during the presentation that members – i.e. the vast majority of the student body – can’t define with any clarity what LUSU is there for and learned that LUSU is seen to be very internally-centric. ‘Us’ and ‘them’ were the terms used. And throughout all this the only reaction from Council was a rustling in the audience when Communications and Support Services Manager Claire Geddes told them: “We were trying to get officer groups to think about what the average student would expect, and unfortunately the tendency was for you guys to think about what JCRs would want, so we’ve got a slight mismatch there.”

The subdued mood continued throughout Officer Information and Questions – supplied by just the Full Time Officers on this occasion, which, as Union Council Officer Mark Lord pointed out, will mean we’ll have a lot of fun going through everyone else’s at the next meeting, won’t we? The one ripple of interest was provided by the ever-quotable Matt Windsor, Vice President (Finance, Events, Democracy and Societies), who remarked, in reference to the behaviour of Lancaster University Against Cuts at Tuesday’s failed General Meeting: “I’d just like to make it clear in my opinion that it was a good thing I was chairing because I thought the whole group were actually really really rude. I know the sort of chairing policy that’s in the bylaw kind of went out of the window but I can assure you next time I’m not going to take any shit.”

It wasn’t until Windsor proposed changing the venue for the Full Time Officer Election results night that Council stirred itself into a debate. The Election Sub-Committee had decided the event should take place at Barker House Farm; Windsor wanted Council to override Election-Sub and vote for it to move to the Sugarhouse, on the grounds that the 2010 results night in Barker House Farm was, in the words of LUSU President Robbie Pickles, “an absolutely appalling results night, the worst in institutional memory.”

The 2010 venue wasn’t the only problem on that occasion – a failure with the e-voting system meant two of the elections had to be re-run three days later – but it took several people raising their hands to agree with Windsor and Pickles before Bailrigg Station Manager Aran Wilkinson raised his and asked “Was it because of the venue it was a bad election or was it the other things that were going on?”

Electionfail or no electionfail the feeling was that for 2011 we should start afresh. Although Election-Sub had made a decision, “We shall make the decision they’re wrong on this occasion,” said Pickles.

And besides, it might give them the chance to refute some of those survey results. “The atmosphere in Sugarhouse [in 2009] was just fantastic, more people who were average students turned up,” observed Vice President (Media & Communications) Lizzie Houghton. “We go on about needing to get things out there [and] I think in terms of raising awareness of what’s actually going on [Sugarhouse] is the better venue.”

The proposal passed: Sugarhouse it is then.

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