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LUSU Presidential elections typically make way for at least one left field candidate, and this year is no exception.
Philosophy MA student Adam Harrison-Henshall believes that his lack of LUSU experience is well compensated for by his experience of “many sides of many Lancaster based coins, from inside the structures and outside them”, having studied as an undergraduate, postgraduate, and served the Colleges through his work on the County College’s Deanery and its bar. Harrison-Henshall was also responsible for ‘Lancaster to Euston’, a periodical campus magazine designed to “open up the political discourse at Lancaster.”
It is therefore unsurprising that Harrison-Henshall is approaching the role of LUSU President from a political standpoint. He feels that the role of President would “benefit” from someone who is “motivated in a deeply critical, political sense.
“When we have a General Meeting, we are literally creating a space for democracy, a forum for discussion. I think that’s a far more effective form of direct democracy than representative democracy could ever claim to be. Where there’s an important issue – call a meeting, raise issues and have these expressed in the open.”
He stressed the importance of LUSU’s involvement in protests, and referred to a march to bring back EMA as one that LUSU should have endorsed; “What you’re saying, in promoting these protests, is not only facilitating democracy within your own structures, but you’re enabling students to use their democratic rights above and beyond the institution of LUSU.”
While he praised LUSU’s decision to endorse the NUS Demo in 2012, Harisson-Henshall was critical of LUSU for its late handling of campus based issues, such as the restructuring of the College Bars and the ongoing situation within Music.
If elected, Harrisson-Henshall pledges to take immediate action against the university in similar situation; “any decent student union should immediately investigate, confront the right people, make the population aware and fight back. The fact that [LUSU] didn’t with Music and the bars gives the university license to cut whatever departments it likes, without fear of opposition from LUSU.”
Harrison-Henshall is keen to “empower students to realise they have a voice.” He explained that students shouldn’t have to “wait to be given a voice via a student survey.” Rather, he wants to use his Presidency to “help facilitate students having a voice,” and asked why the student voice has to be “constantly legitimated via beaurocratic means”, believing that such means “surpress” it.
“We’ve seen, year upon year, that the university is such an undemocratic organisation. It ‘consults’, but doesn’t listen. We have the numbers and the power, and we should start demanding consultation from the university.”
To summarise, he described LUSU’s relationship with the student body; “The university management is ‘the bad guy’, and LUSU is ‘the good guy’… but it’s a bit quiet. It needs to rise up and become the protagonist, rather than sit back and allow the University to do what it wants. That is the narrative I want to push forward.”