My trip to Union Council

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Do you know who attends Union Council? Do you know what is discussed there? Do you even know it exists? If you’re anything like the wide majority of students on campus, you’ll probably have no idea in the slightest. And, to make things worse, you probably won’t care either. According to the LUSU website, Union Council is the “lead policy making body of the union, and gives the organisation its key political lead”. Unfortunately, after my first visit, I left with relatively mixed feelings about the whole ordeal: I was intrigued and surprised, yet downright confused about what I’d just witnessed.

I was on the observers’ bench at Council with our wonderful Comment Editor, Daniel, and luckily I had a running commentary on what the heck was unfolding. Being thrown into such a situation was, admittedly, slightly intimidating. There’s around 60 LUSU officers stuck in LUMS Lecture Theatre 3, the LA1:TV cameras are watching your every move, and some members have been in attendance for the best part of seven years. I knew I was in for a fun couple of hours.
Whilst it was clear that everyone in the room had opinions, whether members felt informed enough to voice them is the issue that I’m most concerned about. There was a lot of assumed knowledge between delegates: particular events, issues, and jargon were simply taken for granted, and the Council ultimately became a superficial chat between just a handful of people. Confidence enough to break into mainstream debate is something many delegates appeared to lack, and I really wouldn’t blame them. There was a lot of personal politics flying around the room, with backhanded comments and perfectly-timed “jokes” being the norm.

The first hour of our most recent LUSU Council was spent on largely standard tasks: approving the minutes, questioning officers, and electing new vacancies. When it became clear that nobody wanted to question the new set of officers being elected onto yet another committee, people began to call: “Come on, guys, ask something.” Council delegates were being begged to show an interest, and nominees were therefore asked largely tedious, unanswerable questions such as: “Do you know what the job actually involves?” We sat back and predicted the answers one by one.

LUSU politics have a tendency of attracting the same ideas from the same people, and it’s a shame that more people with opposing opinions don’t come to open discussions like Union Council. Whilst we’d love the student body’s views to be fully represented, this will never be possible with the current culture. With over 12,000 students on campus, I got the feeling that LUSU Council was a theatrical bubble: in a situation where questioning the status quo should be embraced, there was awkwardly little opposition. I wanted to witness debate, but there was no party to counter the mainstream. Perhaps when that change is realised, and more students get involved in campus politics, the student body may once again feel fully represented by their union.

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