The University of London has announced that its Student Union will close this year. This decision was not put to a student vote; no student was even on the review panel which confirmed the closure. This represents an undemocratic attack on student unionism by University management.
Of course it’s important that Universities have their own individual unions, but as part of the collective of London Universities, we need a student-lead institution that encompasses all of the involved universities. The University of London Union (ULU) is important in student fights to maintain rent prices around London, and involved in the maintenance of Senate House Library, as well as other London University services. ULU also allows input from all London Universities, not just the most renowned ones. Being so far from central London, RHUL students in particular need a way to communicate with other London Universities over important issues.
In the last ULU elections, over 3000 people voted for positions, only a fraction of the 120,000 people who study with the Univ. of London. The fact that the majority does not vote does not remove the right to vote of the minority: the solution to low turnout is to work to increase participation, not to disband the organisation altogether. The votes of 3000 are more representative of popular opinion than the opinions of a board of managers.
Even if some of the ULU services are maintained without the Union, they will be done in such a way as to exclude the students of the University of London from having an input, as we do at our individual unions. These services will continue for the ease of their practitioners, not according to student needs.
It cannot be denied that ULU has been flawed as an institution, and generally doesn’t attract the attention of many students, but in the last year there has been an increased interest in the Union and improvements have begun to occur. Where it falls short, we should be working to improve it. Instead, the planned closure will destroy it altogether.
Article: Tom Harris