Shouldn’t ULot be revising?

ULU Protest promises the be the “first of many”.


ULU protest 1

Protests outside the University of London Trustee Board on the 22nd May are said to be “the first of many.” The meeting of the trustee board was supposedly the last in which they could have reversed their decision to abolish ULU and implement drastic changes.

The main proposal, which a number of students are opposing, is the decision to “close ULU from summer 2014 and replace it with a management-run student services centre.” This, according to those protesting, is an attack on student democratic leadership with ULU being an easy target.

In a statement on the ULU website, yesterday’s protests promise to be “the first of many”. ULU President, Michael Chessum, however told The Tab that they are yet to formulate more concrete plans, but have a planning meeting in June. He stated that “autumn will form a point of major action.”

ULU protest 2

ULUs, Sir, thousands of ’em!

Campaigners have highlighted the gap between Senior Management and student values, as they claim that within the private sector, student unionism is not “well understood or valued”. But whilst these managers sit behind their mahogany desks, desperately trying to ‘understand’ why Chessum and pals could provide invaluable benefits to the student body, the average ULU student cares about one thing only; what will happen to the bars?

The physical changes that will take place in ULU are essentially, at the moment, ambiguous. Michael Chessum told The Tab that; “In terms of Clubs and Societies and other facillities, there is no guarantee that anything would remain as it is, though I can’t imagine them getting rid of the pool. Essentially, it won’t be in our hands. Clubs and Societies are likely to suffer – the report has said that there is “duplication” (which really just misunderstands what we do), and will only hold on to “elite” clubs – so that’s a major threat to many societies.”

The planned ‘management-run student services centre’ could therefore change everything, or change absolutely nothing at all. Such a factor could determine most students’ stance on the matter and drastically sway public opinion. Although the protest was well-attended and the petition has received almost 5,000 signatures, there remains to be much antagonism against the ULU President and Vice-President; the latter alienating many after refusing to lay a poppy-wreath last year.

Although the fate of ULU is yet to be finalised, it is clear that union officers are now paying for their mistakes. But as much as we could probably survive without the political representation, could we survive without the pan-university sports clubs or the beloved Friday nights? Chessum and Cooper are evidently arguing that you can’t have one without the other, but ULU’s closure initially seemed to be Senior Management’s attempt at disposing of the politicized union, without affecting student facilities.

Whether they will then swoop in and turn the building into their private members’ club seems unlikely. But what most students will want to fight for are probably not the ‘core principles’ of the current ULU protests, but saving our most popular societies, saving our bars and establishing better representation.

Believe it or not, the majority do not like extremes and will neither want to see continuing student activism nor private-sector management in charge. Unfortunately, at the moment, they seem to be the only two options.