The letter detailed the reasons why they felt the Guild had failed in its role and how they could improve the situation
The open letter, posted anonymously on Friday 2nd March, was written to "express our disappointment with the current status quo at the Guild, and to demand significant change". The letter is a direct response to the recent Guild elections, which saw one of the lowest turnouts in recent years, it was approximately half of the turnout from last year, with only 4,559 votes cast in total.
In the letter, the students claimed that this low turnout was caused by voter apathy due to the Guild failing to listen to the student population and also "a lack of inspiring candidates" for the positions that were up for election.
The letter went on to detail what they believed to be the Guild's failures. For instance, the letter outlined that fact that the Guild had failed to take into consideration the views of its students by "going against the democratic decisions made by the student body". This was referencing the Guild's decision to change its stance on the UCU strikes, the Guild moved to support the strikes, yet the writers of the letter claim that not enough was done to support the striking staff. It is important to note that many of the strikers were postgrad students who would fall under the jurisdiction of the Guild, and so therefore they felt that more should have been done to support them.
The letter also goes on to say that they felt the Guild was more concerned with "personal image than material effect", and was "more interested in protecting the University than its members". And that the Guild's decision to remove the positions of VP Postgraduate Research and VP Postgraduate Taught, was done without consulting the current officers in those roles and the decision was ultimately made by an undergrad, rather than a collective decision involving postgrads and the current students in those positions.
The letter calls on the Guild to offer more support to its students, act more like a union, make their finances more transparent and to run more effective campaigns- with particular reference to the #NeverOk and We Are All Exeter campaigns, both of which have almost fallen into obscurity. The letter also states that if the reaction by the Guild is inadequate, then the students will have to use other means to "ensure that we are adequately represented as students".
At the time of writing this, the letter currently has 42 signatures and they are yet to have a response from the Guild.
A spokesman for the University of Exeter said: “A small number of students have gathered in a meeting room on the University’s Streatham Campus. We respect students’ right to protest, provided they do so in a safe and legal manner.”