UCLU is not just about pints and paninis…let’s liberate it

Our union isn’t a business


The point of a student union is to represent its members and fight for their rights, whether that’s your right to a free Wednesday afternoon on the rugby pitch or your right to kiss your partner in public.

The importance of liberation and full time, campaigning liberation officers for this cannot be underestimated.

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The union propose a full time LGBT+ officer

The job of a full time liberation officer is not just an extension of the Welfare Officer, and it’s not to “look after” a certain part of the student body: it’s to readdress the fundamental wrongs of a system that feeds off inequality and benefits from keep those who are already marginalised out of power structures.

Despite UCL’s so-called radical past, it too mirrors these power structures, and we can’t just kid ourselves that we are radical just because we’re students – we need to look at the officers we elect and confront these power structures head on.

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Begum and Sketchley believe there are alternatives to cutting UCLU’s liberation campaigns

Nobody believes that just by electing a full time Women’s’ Officer or an LGBT+ Officer all of the problems people in marginalised groups face will be over immediately. The jobs of the liberation officers are some of the biggest in the Union, but it does make a very valuable difference.

Full time liberation officers have a far greater impact on UCL structures through committees and programmes than part-time officers do, as well as much greater range of contacts and resources.  They make life actively better for our most marginalised members.

You might be told that this is all about money, and that your club or society will get a bigger grant if we cut the amount of sabbatical officers.

No-one is denying that we are in deficit, but to be promised more money for your club or society, while citing saving money as a reason for slashing liberation campaigns, is frankly an absurd contradiction.

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Every sabbatical officer opposes controversial motion 4

There are many ways to save money that are not cutting liberation, and we do not advocate pitting sabbs against student staff.  Some people advocate a sabbatical officer salary cut, for example, whilst staffing savings on re-employment already stand to win us back tens of thousands of pounds.

First and foremost, this is a political and ideaological decision about what you think a student union ought to do, and how it ought to represent its members, and the distinction is simple: do you want a Union which actively tries to improve life for marginalised groups, or do you want one which is able to put on a few good events for them, but not make any lasting difference?

Hannah Sketchley is the Democracy and Communications Officer of UCLU

Hajera Begum is Black and Minority Ethnic Students’ Officer of UCLU

Agree with Hannah and Hajera? Email editor@londontab.co.uk to have your say before 9th December