Students’ Union issues caution to university over Pro-Chancellor appointment
LUSU has condemned Alistair Burt’s appointment
In a statement made today, Lancaster University Students’ Union has issued Lancaster University a caution over the appointment of ex-Conservative MP, Alistair Burt, as Pro-Chancellor of the university.
The Tab Lancaster already investigated Mr Burt’s voting record during his time as a Member of Parliament, which included voting against gay rights and in favour of raising tuition fees to £9,000 per year.
LUSU’s LGBTQ+ Part-Time Officer, Jesse Phillips, penned an open letter to Mr Burt, saying: “A large proportion of the student body have concerns about your actions during your career as a Member of Parliament, and the implications of this on Lancaster University.
“On behalf of the Student body, I’d like to ask whether you still hold the views which caused you to make the above decisions. I’d also like to ask you to publicly denounce any and all forms of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people on the grounds of their gender identity or sexual orientation, including so-called ‘gay-cure therapies’. Further to this, I am asking you to commit to supporting LGBTQ+ people (including both students and staff) in continuing their academic career at Lancaster and in tackling discrimination in our University.”
Phillips also wrote to University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andy Schofield: “Will you, on behalf of the University as an institution:
“1. Denounce any and all forms of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people on the grounds of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
“2. Commit to supporting LGBTQ+ people (including both students and staff) in continuing their academic career at Lancaster.
“3. Commit to taking action to tackle discrimination against LGBTQ+ people at Lancaster University.
“4. Denounce the above historic actions of the Pro-Chancellor, the Right Honourable Alistair Burt.”
These open letters were fully endorsed by the Students’ Union, with LUSU announcing on their website: “The Students’ Union is concerned about the appointment of Alistair Burt to the position of Pro-Chancellor given his chequered history on a variety of issues, including on LGBT+ and Human Rights.
“We hope that he will use this chance to distance himself from the more problematic elements of his record and to bring his skill set to Lancaster for the benefit of all students. We hope that he will work actively to promote the interests of marginalised members of our community.”
Speaking to The Tab Lancaster, LUSU President, Oliver Robinson said: “I congratulate Alistair on his appointment, but I’m incredibly dismayed to learn of certain elements of his political record. I’m personally hurt by some of the actions he has taken, as I know many other students are. I hope that he uses this as an opportunity to make amends and to build bridges within our wonderful community in all its diversity.”
Lancaster University Students’ Union’s full statement, alongside Phillips’ letters, can be found here.