Why I left UCLU and Why You Should Too

I normally hate bureaucracy. When confronted by a form crowded with boxes, dotted lines, and frightening-sounding proclamations I’m instantly put off. However, that yearly bureaucratic task of re-enrolling with UCL […]


I normally hate bureaucracy. When confronted by a form crowded with boxes, dotted lines, and frightening-sounding proclamations I’m instantly put off.

However, that yearly bureaucratic task of re-enrolling with UCL was more interesting this time round. Confronted with the opportunity not to join UCLU, years of building annoyance towards the  Union and its policies, its biases, and its lack of democratic legitimacy came to the fore.I decided then and there to leave the Union. So why did I do it? More importantly, why should you do it?

In January a UCLU referendum rightly overturned the so-called ‘Motion to support Right to Education’ – a euphemistic title for a divisive motion regarding the Palestinian-Israeli situation. It was overturned because it clearly lies far outside the Union’s remit. It is, after all, a student union and not the UN.

‘So what?’ you ask, ‘it was overturned – what’s your problem?’ The answer is the inherent political bias amongst Union officials. Indeed the two seconders of the said motion were both former and current sabbatical officers who I feel let their political beliefs cloud their judgement. This blatantly unrepresentative motion (which was passed 15-3 by the Union Council) should have never been passed. Such decisions are, sadly, unavoidable when union officials are elected on turn-outs which make parish council elections seem hotly contested.

Maybe it was a one-time slip-up. Perhaps the Union learnt not to make bold proclamations on such deeply divisive and personal matters of opinion. Sadly not. During the very same referendum UCLU became, by a hefty majority, ‘pro-choice’.

My personal opinion on abortion is irrelevant. As is yours. The issue at hand is freedom of conscience and speech. This is a university, after all.

The biased motion mandates that all ‘anti-choice’ (‘pro-life’?) campaigns duly report to the Union so that ‘pro-choice’ (‘anti-life’?) campaigns can ‘campaign at the same time with an equal budget and […] advertising space.’ By this logic, students in favour of higher fees should also receive equal funding and platform as anti-cuts campaigners. Fat chance. The Union must either stop politically cherry-picking issues or apply their principles equally and consistently. Anything less is, by any definition of the word, discrimination.

Even more worryingly, the motion mandates that all debates on ‘termination’ have a representative from both the ‘anti-life’ and ‘anti-choice’ camps; all to ensure ‘balance to the argument’. Does this mean the Stop the War Society has to have a neo-con at every debate? The Marxist Society a libertarian? The Conservatives a Trot? Not likely, and nor should they have to. This is a university where freedom of speech and the fundamental right to free-thought must not be defined and delineated by an overly-politicised Union.

In a few months there’ll be more UCLU elections, in which the same stale candidates with hackneyed phrases will be trotted out. Cocksure in their own beliefs, they will continue to forget their purpose as representatives of the whole student body (even the ones they may vehemently disagree with). Little will change.

I refuse to be represented by a divisive Union with a blatant political bias. I urge you all to reconsider the role of a student union and join me.