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Guildsheet Unfairly Impounded

Nov 16 2006 08:49
The Dark Knight
Guildsheet is no longer available around campus, after the returning officer decided to impound it.
Returning Officer Jon Matthews Impounds Guildsheet

A complaint by Alex Guite, leader of the NUS 'Yes' campaign, led to the removal of Guildsheet from around College yesterday. Guildsheet was distributed around 6pm on Tuesday evening and a complaint was promptly made. Between 10am and noon yesterday the magazine was removed from circulation under the instruction of returning officer Jon Matthews.


Mr Matthews took the decision to impound Guildsheet after the 'No' campaign submitted an advertisement, but the 'Yes' campaign failed to do so. The root of the argument was that the editor, Tristan Sherliker, should have contacted the 'Yes' campaign to inform them that advertising in Guildsheet was possible and the 'No' campaign had submitted something.

The election regulations state that every candidate in an election must be given equal access to the media and notify the other party of any interview or debate taking place. Matthews was advised by a member of staff that this rule had been interpreted by former President Mustafa Arif to include advertisements. No written documentation of this exists and Mr Arif, when contacted by Live!, stated "I made no such interpretation". In addition the media were not advised of this (incorrect) interpretation before the referendum started. Mr Matthews has been informed of this fact however Guildsheet remains impounded.


Sherliker has responded, arguing that one of the main players in the 'Yes' campaign, John Collins, is a former Guildsheet editor and would be well aware that Guildsheet would be publishing during November and accepting adverts. Ashley Brown, Editor of Guildsheet's sister publication Live! described the decision as "ridiculous" and the complaint as "petty and vindictive, given that members of the 'Yes' campaign have previously worked on Guildsheet".

Guildsheet will be released on Friday.

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Discussion about “Guildsheet Unfairly Impounded”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Nov 15 2006 11:47

Yet another reason to vote no! A-NUS really care about what is best for IC students and that comes across quite clearly.

The yes campaign are in panic, submitting petty complaints left right and centre.

Nov 15 2006 11:48

Strike anyone as familiar....

Nov 15 2006 12:37

Surely the key question is whether Tristan specifically offered space for an advert to the 'No' campaign, or whether the 'no' campaign asked him for it.

If the former then there's a problem; if the latter then it's just the 'Yes' campaign's incompetence and so not a valid complaint.

Nov 15 2006 12:54

I greatly regret the need to temporarily impound Guildsheet and will ensure it is re-circulated on Friday morning.

I absolutely respect the freedom of the press and having to impound a publication leaves a sour taste in my mouth but the ultimate outcome had this precaution not been taken could have been the whole referendum being declared void.

Jon Matthews

NUS Referendum Returning Officer

Nov 15 2006 13:28

I was contacted by the No camp and asked for an advert - but not by the Yes camp. As the Returning Officer agreed, it isn't actually written in the constitution that I needed to contact one side if I was contacted by the other, so I took no action. I thank Simon for pointing out the underlying issue above, which is especially relevant considering prominent Yes camp members' previous involvemeent with Guildsheet and the CGCU.

Jon, the Returning Officer is being very fair about the situation, even to the extent of making sure that cost for the advert is spread fairly and covered in part by the "elections budget" intended for neutral spending.

The magazine will appear on Friday, and I hope everyone is as excited as me about the new magazine format.


Nov 15 2006 13:31

Well, well, well. Truly a triumph democracy and yet another example of press censorship. We've only had the NUS on campus for 3 days and its already started.

It's a shame that the Yes campaign are so concerned about the weakness of their argument that they have to resort to gimmicks such as penguins, bringing in externals and complaining about their own incompetence.

Nov 15 2006 15:00

I think it is totally unfair to suggest the Yes campaign is panicking - we're not. Also we are not resorting to gimmicks, we are making an impact on campus by making ouselves seen and engaging with students on a personal level. The only time I have seen or heard from a no campaigner is when they have been shouting at said penguins. I think it is more tragic that No campaigners seem to be taking a rather faceless approach of spreading grumblings on forums.

However when I come to think of it - it is quite typical that No campaigners should not want to get their hands dirty and actually engage with people. It is the lazy way out. And perpetuates the fact that not joining the NUS is to not want to be involved in anything other than your own selfishness.

I am not usually this strongly spoken, I just felt a little out numbered.

Nov 15 2006 15:49

Not entirely sure how refusing to be part of an organisation that on a number occasions has blatantly acted against the well-being of it's members (supporting the lecturer strike, actively campaigning against discounts for members who don't want to pay an extra tenner, taking an unfeasible and unworkable position on top up fees to name a few instances) can be construed as selfishness.

Nov 15 2006 15:55

erm... lazy way out? lets see.

No campaign = IC students. Workload 40 hours a week approx + trying to run their campaign in their spare time. As for them being faceless, one of them has spoken to me in a lecture and also during lunch and has convinced my friends and I to vote no. He did not come across as selfish or introverted.

Yes campaign= mostly made up of external NUS campaigners who seem to have the time to spend 5 or 6 ours standing about the sherfield walkway. 2 of the yes campaign are sabbs and are not allowed to campaign when they are meant to be working hence practically all of those "engaging students on a personal level" (or interupting their lunch, as I prefer to call it) are not from Imperial.

It's nice to know that if we join we'll be paying NUS £52 000 a year so that their senior officers can go all across the country to campaign during affiliation/disaffiliation referenda. Representing 5m students clearly isn't challenging enough for them. No wonder they want more people to join.

Are you seriously suggesting that A-NUS should not bother attending lectures, doing coursework etc?

Or mebbe its just a bit ridiculous that the union allows so many outsiders to descend on us?

Nov 15 2006 16:04

I just thought I'd be a bit more controversial as noone had replied to my comments in other topics.

I am currently not doing coursework in order to take part in ongoing NUS debates but I agree that is not the most sensible thing to do.

I have spoken to a number of Yes campaigners who are imperial students. Also i have been in college with ben and Alex and numerous other people at 8:00am giving out fruit juice to cyclists. So our campaigns are not just restricted to lunchtimes.

Surely, as it is students who requested this referendum, then it is within the Sabbs job descriptions to be involved. I will double check on this one.

Surely getting in people from other universities is a sensible idea for the yes campaign. you cannot advise people on the benefits of an institution if you are not involved. This is in the interest of helping people come to an informed decision.

Nov 15 2006 16:13

I saw only two "no" Imperial activists campaigning today whilst at least five Imperial students were out campaigning for the "yes" side this lunchtime.

Nov 15 2006 16:15

sabbs are employed to be sabbs, not to stand about all day mounting political campaigns. they still have their jobs to do.

getting people involved from other universities is important but not to the extent that has happened here. we should hear a short pitch from senior officers about the benefits of joining, not have our campus swamped with activists who have nothing better to do with their time although from what i've heard they are irritating a lot of students.

Why cant they get IC students to stand about and do most of the donkey work? It is very unfair to describe the no campaign as lazy considering they don't have an army of external helpers to back them up. If we are talking about the number of IC students helping each team then the no lot have definitely done a lot more.

Nov 15 2006 16:16

Also - I would like to retract 'selfish' as I don't think it was entirely the right word in this instance. My computer kept timing out and I was getting frustrated that I couldn't contribute to the predominantly 'no' course that live! discussions seems to be taking.

In the past I have discovered that offer an imperial College Student a cup of Fairtrade coffee and they will merely ask how much more it will cost than their normal coffee. this si the impression i also get from no! campaigners. that given a choice, they'd rather have a small benefit for themselves (in the case of a fairtrade cuppa 1-2p) rather than take actions that will benefit others.

I think I speak better in anecdotes.

No campaign - my apologies for my bad use of phrasing.

Nov 15 2006 17:24

It *is* part of the sabbs jobs to take sides in this debate - they are not just there to represent students to other bodies, but also to provide leadership to on improtant issues.

I'm entirely biased on this issue (I don't think ICU should affiliate) but, provided everything else still happens, I completely support the current sabbs in getting out of their offices and campaigning.

the only thing to be careful of is ensuring that they don't abuse their positions by using the president's column in felix or similar.

Nov 15 2006 17:39

May I remind everyone that one sabb has taken a keen interest in this issue and have taken a day off his elected position campaigning for the issue. This is highly commendable.

However what is inappropriate is to hear students (in particular Freshers) saying "the President told me to vote yes". In numerous occasions, I have spotted a particular member of the sabbatical team "campaigning" between travelling from meeting to meeting talking to students whilst wearing and showing his officer's badge. This particular person has been warned in many occasions and nothing seemed to have changed.

Guildsheet was a wonderful publication and many people had looked forward to reading it. I personally had to be in couple of meetings that concerned students. As suppose to being absent from these meetings and going to campaign, I chose the former as I thought it was the right thing to do.

16. James   
Nov 15 2006 17:40

If all the facts regarding Guildsheet are as presented here - and that's a big if, I fully accept that some aspects may not become public until after voting closes - then this is an utter disgrace.

The election regulations, from my memory, state that all candidates/sides must have equal access to the media, not equal coverage. So if one side went to Guildsheet and requested advertising, that's fine. The only problem would be if advertising from the other side were rejected.

I look forward to reading the returning officers report, as surely everything cannot be as it seems.

Nov 15 2006 17:47

I think the returning officer might be die of overwork before writing his report at this rate...

Nov 15 2006 17:50

Hi James

FYI two sabbs have taken at least two days leave this week.

Nov 15 2006 17:57

Sabbs taking leave is highly commendable, its a shame Imperial students don't have that luxury.

20. J Ma   
Nov 15 2006 19:54


anyway, I have already voted 'No!'.

Nov 15 2006 20:59

This whole thing is a complete and utter farce. Name-calling, petty complaining, impounding of newspapers for what appears to be a very poor reason, sabbs campaigning with their officer badges on which confuses freshers, poster removal, and so on. Both sides are responsible in some way for this disaster, and it isn't my place to proportion the blame between sides.

I, too, look forwards to the Returning Officer's report. If it is anything less than negative, I shall be sorely disappointed.

Nov 15 2006 22:42

"it is quite typical that No campaigners should not want to get their hands dirty and actually engage with people."

Perhaps Kirsty should consider that the vast majority of Campaigners for YES are actually external.

If the NO campaign were actually feeling like being petty I am sure they would have called security and got these insolent intruders ousted from campus.

23. Foltan   
Nov 15 2006 23:46

It is claimed that if the publication were allowed then the vote could be void because the 'No' camp would have had extra publicity. However, surely by 'conveniently' not realising that they were able to have their own advert, the 'Yes' campaigners have now succeeded in removing the NO advert until after the election.

If the decision not to affiliate was seen as lodgical and well founded (with the decision not to the opposite) surely the 'Yes' camp have made a small success in removing their opponents advert by minimising the students' exposure to lodgical arguments as to why affiliation with the NUS is a ludicrous idea!

Nov 16 2006 00:20

To sum up Kirsty's advice to students in the name of the Yes campaign:

1) Skip coursework and lectures. It's commendable!

2) Imperial students don't know what's best for them, but students from less specialised univeristies from outside the city, whose workloads and lifestyles are very different to ours, do.

3) The lazy way out is to attend your lectures and/or do your job as a union official

So, boys and girls, let that be a lesson on how to make good judgements about your lifestyle.

Or, if you think those are incredulous ramblings, vote NO

Nov 16 2006 00:43

Underliner you most certainly have got me all wrong.

Unlike some other weeks when I have missed lectures, this week I have managed to attend all of them (go me!) and still found time to go and talk to people around campus and join in the debate. I have also (for a change) managed to get all of my coursework so far this week in on time. This may change - who knows - but I will most likely blame this on the fact that I have attended somewhere in the region of 25 hours worth of rehearsals this week and have had numerous committee and extra curricular activities to attend to.

I know from personal experience that missing lectures is not advisable and handing in coursework late will be very damaging to your degree. Therefore I would never suggest this as appropriate action. I do however arrange the rest of my time to benefit other people and to help causes I care about, very strictly.

In this case I also would like to point out that the 'lazy way out' is not to 'not attend lectures' it is to only attend your lectures and use this as a very poor excuse for not getting out there and campaigning.

Imperial Students need to be given all the sides of the argument to be able to make an informed decision. Being of a high intellectual standard I assume Imperial Students will be able to handle a healthy debate and make their own minds up based on everything they have heard. With noone at Imperial having any experience of NUS then it is self explanatory that these view points would be better expressed by 'outsiders' with the appropriate experience. I think it is nice to see so many people taking an interest in our tiny college. Everyone must feel some sense of pride for being part of this great institution but I fear that our union will soon pale into insignificance when we no longer have an external support.

Nov 16 2006 01:23

Healthy debate we can cope with, intellectually bankrupt individuals in penguin suits we just can't be a**ed with.

I've attended all my lectures this week and dedicated every free minute of my time to A-NUS. A lot of the people turning up do not have "appropriate experience". I've tried to talk to as many of them as I can, a few of them (mostly exec) know their stuff (and i've enjoyed talking to them as it clarifys my own views) but they are outnumbered by the people who think that the NUS is great but they can't really explain to me why.

We are not innundated with hordes of well informed NUS members, we are swamped with a load of lackeys who will pretty much do as instructed. My friend was handed a flyer yesterday by someone on the walkway and she asked him "why should we join the NUS?", she wasn't convinced by his answer thankfully! Some of the NUS people are really nice, some are really ignorant. The point is there shouldn't be so many of them as its a bit silly to ask A-NUS to have people out all day for a week when we all have far more important things to be getting on with, its just plain offensive to accuse us of being lazy/making excuses.

Nov 16 2006 07:43

I have heard far more offensive remarks, some of which i regrettably said and have since retracted, but i stand by this one.

Having had the same amount of time and budget for both the No! and Yes! campaign there seems to have been a much more organised and strategic approach from the yes campaigners. Particularly when, as everyone keeps pointing out, it is being run by only a few Imperial Students (although supported by many more.)

From what I have seen, the yes campaign have implemented a much better use of their time and money and proved themselves to be far more capable of handling a campaign. This just goes to show that either they are far more competent than the no campaigners, far more dedicated than the no campaigners or that the Yes campaigners simply have the right idea and the NUS really would be a great support for us in the future as they have shown throughout this campaign. I certainly know which 'team' I would rely on, NUS or not, to organise and run campaigns and indeed our union.

Nov 16 2006 08:09

Well organised enough to, say, submit an article to Guildsheet?

It dosen't matter what happens really. If NO! win then we're out for at least another 5 years. If yes win we'll tentatively enter, realise its not for us and we'll be back out within 3 years once we realise that whilst the NUS sounds good in theory in practice it is beyond refrom.

I can predict the problems of joining already, namely:-

1.) The views of ICU are unlikely to be shared by more than a handful of other members. Our delegation is going to be banging their heads off the table once they realise that any idea they put forward in the interest of our students will be shouted down as elitist. I don't think that ICU has ever supported the 50% target for school leavers entering HE as it is not sustainable for the taxpayer to fund this. No ex-poly will ever agree with us on this point, it would be like a turkey voting in favour of xmas.

2.) The massive administrative burden that NUS extra will put on the Union. The University of Westminster has 25 000 students but only managed to shift 2000 discount cards (total income from sales = £8000) but to deal with the admin that the cards have generated they've had to take on an extra member of staff and buy extra computers so at the end of the day NUS extra is turning out to be a very bad deal for their union.

3.) It is impossible to get anything done at NC without the support of one of the main factions. Compared to most other places, the delegates we will send will be very apolitical and won't be too enthusiastic for sitting with Conservative Future, Labour Students, FOSIS or the oxymoronic "organised" independents. This is bound to get disheartening after a while.

4.) It's a given that within the next few years we'll have sabbs who will see that the whole charade is a colossal waste of money and might be a bit more honest with students regarding the costs/pitfalls than the current lot.

Nov 16 2006 08:16

It seems Stephen that when in private you are quite happy to commend certain members of our sabb team as you were yesterday to Emily and myself in the Felix office. But when it comes to public humiliation you are quite happy to cut them down? Yesterday it was a case of 'they are very down to earth and honest' now they are dishonest? Maybe you should make a clear decision as to your own stance on such subjects before trying to influence other people.

Nov 16 2006 08:21

On the honesty/dishonesty of sabbs during this campaign I have different views on them all which I will share with everyone once voting has closed. Some have been great, some not so great. I didn't know we had to think of them as a single entity.

Nov 16 2006 10:15

Everything at Imperial is turning into politics. Can't there be a freedom of expression for once.

Nov 16 2006 10:45

I?m really becoming disillusioned with the level of intelligence at Imperial.

I voted ?yes?, why?, you rabid ?no? group might say, well they were the only ones for whom I saw any sort of reasonable argument put forward in the form of a poster. Granted the poster I saw was not particularly informative or convincing, but it was the only reasonable information I had to go on. The No campaign seems to simply be a fanatical militant shoot down of the opposition. I have seen no valid debate, simply childish bickering, in various forms, the use of smear tactics, and sarcasm from arrogant know-it-alls. Is it too much to ask for someone to give a stable non-aggressive opinion?

33. Nick   
Nov 16 2006 10:51

No valid no debate? Well saving tens of thousands of pounds, not being represented by a group which also represents Bolton 6th Form College is a start. Injustified benifts for such a high price? Considering students need to buy a discount card anyway. Why not put this money into clubs and societies and services and not into an organisation who spent more time debating Columbia than the lecturer's stike at their last conference?!

Nov 16 2006 10:55

yay, thank you Nick. I realise that the NUS is not the greatest group to be affiliated with, and as always with large organisations requires a large input of money. Are there any alternatives to the NUs, and isn't it the case that we need representation even in some small part?

35. Alex G   
Nov 16 2006 11:23

You based your vote on the fact that you saw a poster? Have a look at Stephen's four excellent points above, or the adverts in Felix.

Would it also interest you to know that the poster you saw was probably put over a NO! poster.

I agree with you on the snobbery front, although i think the main point to get from that is that we are a totally different institution from the majority of NUS members. We are a high-end, research driven university and as such have different needs to, say, a further education college. A good argument that we would like to put forward (along with the 20 or so other institutions similar to us) is that we don't just deserve, but need more funding than other universities, certianly ones with no research base at all.

With competition from China, India etc increasing at a huge rate, to compete we will need to channel our resources into creating true world-class institutions.

Nov 16 2006 12:49

I think that this whole issue has been farcical. I have discussed the referendum with numerous people (mostly Freshers) and very few of them actually knew that there was one taking place. I think this is appalling. Especially considering that the decision will affect us more than those who will be leaving in a year or two. I have taken to trying to convince people to vote and to use it wisely by making an informed decision. I have voted no but I would hate the affiliation to go through as a result of voter apathy or lack of information. Should a similar situation arise in the future I think those responsible should learn from this fiasco and ensure that everyone at IC is aware of what is happening. I wouldn't have been infomed about the debate had I not regularly checked out Live's site.

Nov 16 2006 13:11

I'm very interested to learn that the constitutional interpretation suposedly in force is non-existant. So much for unwritten rules.

38. gimpy   
Nov 16 2006 14:01

Hey, that's the Felix trolley they're using to impound GS.

Nov 16 2006 14:33

I find it quite distressing that people are not even aware that a referendum is taking place. how can this possibly be true? have they not noticed the huge media coverage in Felix, on Live! and on Stoic TV? Do they not walk down the Sherfield Walkway and notice the posters? How about checking their emails? I have received numerous Union emails publicising the referendum and encouraging people to vote. i have also received personal emails from friends and emails including links from both the RSM president and CGCU President. this is a very high profile campaign. The most high profile I have ever experienced at Imperial. I do not think we could be trying any harder to get people involved.

Perhaps it is just that they choose to ignore what they find of no interest. Either way I am upset at the lack of opinion. At least no voters have taken a stance. People I have spoken to today have suggested they will not vote as they have no interest in either argument. Do they not realise that even if they take no active interest in the union all the work going on behind the scenes still does directly affect them.

40. Seb   
Nov 16 2006 14:49

Kirst, I think you have that backward.

All the work going on behind the scenes is supposed to be for the general membership, not the benefit of the people running around behind the scenes. The high level of apathy with regards to the NUS referendum should tell you everything you need to know about it. It's not a priority for our membership. They don't care about it. mind you, I think the largest electoral turnout in recent history was the last NUS referrendum.

Union officers should take note and focus on issues the people they represent do care about.

Nov 16 2006 14:52

It's called apathy Kirsty, surely you've been here long enough to realise that ;)

I was somewhat surprised to find that people had no idea what was happening, but it is possible to do if you get into "Tube syndrome". This is where you go direct to your destination and take in nothing around you, with no eye contact with anybody. It would be possible to get down the walkway - penguins, Krispy Kremes, chemical incidents and all - without actually noticing anything happening.

Freshers spend a lot of time in halls so I guess could have missed advertising if there was none there.

People delete emails....

I'm sure the returning officer Jon Matthews is similarly surprised at people not noticing publicity, as there have been plenty of complaints the publicity that is about and 11,000 personalised emails were sent out yesterday. In fact, given the c**p he's dealt with over the last 2 weeks its probably enough to make him cry ;)

Nov 16 2006 14:54

Turnout is currently around 3,500 and looks set to break the previous %age turnout of 27% set at the last referendum. It's already the biggest turnout in terms of pure numbers of any election.

Nov 16 2006 15:03

Have C&G media group and jon matthews agreed to disagree on this one, or will there be further news?

Nov 16 2006 15:28

Seb - what do I have backwards? My comment is that the union works hard on everyones behalf often without people even noticing and never appreciating or acknowledging even if they do. I do believe they would notice though if it wasn't their. The union and particulalrly the sabbs put up with a lot of stick and I often woder why they continue with the thankless tasks which have them in their offices before lectures start in the morning and leaving after the bar closes at night. This has not stopped them continuing to work tirelessy for our benefit. I believe our union needs better support: standing as a small independant and insignificant institution is only going to put more stress on future sabbatical teams, which the current sabbs are trying to avoid.

I have noticed that Imperial is extremely apathetic. I have been fighting against this ever since I arrived here. So maybe the typical Imperial College Student isn't interested in current debates. But what happens when they do have something to say? It will be difficult enough for us to wake up and be counted without finding we have no support when we do finally open our eyes.

Nov 16 2006 15:43

Who the hell is Jon Mathews?!

Kirsty - majority of people don't actually READ felix, (it's a lecture distraction), or even Guildsheet for that - no one, literally, watches stoic apart from the people who make the shows, only hacks and bored people read Live! and I always delete all emails from John Collins.

46. Seb   
Nov 16 2006 15:55


"My comment is that the union works hard on everyones behalf often without people even noticing and never appreciating or acknowledging even if they do."

Yup, that's what you have backwards. If people don't care or acknowledge, then perhaps all that shows is that what we do as Hacks doesn't actually matter so much?

I ran a mini-csc for a while, my job basically to make sure that the clubs and societies have their paperwork in order with the union, that their budgets got aprooved and didn't end up getting frozen, and make sure BAG and SAC gave them what they needed.

I didn't get a tremendous amount of thanks, and yes, they would only notice that I had been doing that if I stopped and their budgets froze.

But the NUS would be a classic example of things being done by hacks, largely for the interest of hacks.

The only compelling argument I have heard for the NUS affiliation is that it makes it easier for the Sabs to talk to other Sabs, gain experience and some training for the Sabs (training for our own officers is generally pretty good and a lot better than at some other universities).

But it's a lot of money to spend for that, for what I reckon is probably marginal benefit.

"I often woder why they continue with the thankless tasks which have them in their offices before lectures start in the morning and leaving after the bar closes at night."

People have been standing for Sabatical positions, knowing that this is what happens, for a very long time. People do it because on some level they find it rewarding, whether it's the CV points, the fact they don't want to get a real job yet, or just because they actually enjoy the job.

" I believe our union needs better support"

I belive the opposite. My experience in the Union on a number of levels leads me to one, inescapeable conclusion: The whole thing is enormosuly fragile. It depends on one thing most of all: internal knowledge transfer. The number one priority of anyone holding an officer position ought to be to make sure their successor can take over smoothely.

That should never be outsourced. The only way we can ensure that we keep what is actually one of the best run, richest, best managed, most succesful Student Unions in the country is if we make sure we keep training our successors based on our own experiences. The best training and experience you can get is that which is generated internally.

I don't know why you think we are small and insignificant. ICU will be, affiliated or not, infinitely more signficant to our members than the NUS. And that is, in the end, what the Union is here to do: serve our members.

"I have noticed that Imperial is extremely apathetic."

I disagree. Imperial students are not apathetic. They just don't think the Union should be acting as a centralised body on political issues. Walk around and talk to many students at IC and you will find an enormous number of committed individuals, who care about different causes (often in conflict with other IC students) with varying degrees of pssion.

And you will also find an enormous number of people that go out and try and do things to make a difference.

For example, the Physoc outreach programme has probably done a hell of a lot more to address the problems in attracting students from "non-traditional" backgrounds (or whatever the government term is these days) to apply to Imperial, than any Union welfare campaign will. And of course, I'm not even sure a Union Welfare campaign should focus on that issue, simply becasue it's only supposed to spend money in the interest of our Members.

The fact is a tiny, tiny fraction of student activity at Imperial is run through the high levels of the Sab team. Central union is far more powerful as an enabler, and yes, the price of that is that you only ever get noticed if you start to fail.

In short: if you try and centralise activity, and farm out training, you wil alienate the membership, lose the next generation of Hacks, and kill the Union. It's precisely how the RCSU died.

Nov 16 2006 15:59

Well said, Seb.

I'd just like to add I stood for a sabb simply because I enjoyed the job, rather than a CV thing.

Additionally, I realise no-one reads Felix, which is why I try to make the issues as simple as possible. Look out for this week's front page.

Nov 16 2006 16:03

Jon Matthew's is the Deputy President (Finance and Service's) and also the NUS Referendum Returning Officer.

The number of people complaining about the content of this years felix suggests to me that they DO in fact read Felix. (If you don't I strongly suggest you do - we do write for fun but it is nice to know someone is reading it). I saw quite a number of people watching the NUS debate on Stoic in the JCR - mainly because this is the first time I have ever seen anything other than advertisements on there.

Regarding emails from John Collins then yes, if you delete them you only have yourself to blame if you don't know what's going on.

49. whinge   
Nov 16 2006 16:04

Kirsty, stop whinging. Noone at Imperial cares about Union politics, this should not come as a surprise to you. Perhaps this is because they have their priorities right, and are actually at university to get a degree.

50. Ally   
Nov 16 2006 16:15

I and absolutely everyone i know enjoy reading felix and have done for 3 years. It gets better every year and most of my friends at other unis are impressed by it.

stop whinging

Nov 16 2006 16:19

Fantastic, Ally. I'm glad at least someone is reading my rag.

Nov 16 2006 16:22

Don't you have a deadline looming? Do some work :p

53. hello   
Nov 16 2006 16:23

Excellent. We'll come to university, get a degree, and then emerge completely and utterly socially inept. We'll be unemplyable and probably smell quite a bit.

That's a real plan...

Nov 16 2006 16:25

I think the idea of many people is just never to emerge. Come to Imperial as an undergraduate, then PhD, then post doc, then lecturer...

Nov 16 2006 16:26

Shush, Ashley. Don't you have to, you know, study for a PhD or something?

Nov 16 2006 16:28

I'm currently reading a paper titled "FIXED-POINT ERROR ANALYSIS AND WORDLENGTH OPTIMIZATION OF A DISTRIBUTED ARITHMETIC BASED 8x8 2D-IDCT ARCHITECTURE". Which is enthralling, as you can imagine.

Nov 16 2006 16:40

Whinge - I don't think I am whinging. It is hard to keep up a debate when you appear to be the only person speaking for one side of it. This is very difficult for me and not my usual cup of tea but I feel I have a part to play. Everyone in the debate is interested in politics - only at diferent ends of the spectrum. the fact that you have posted at all - or bothered to read this far - has shown that you are interested.

Seb - Thanks I appreciate your reply. this is the sort of sensible discussion i had expected.

"I often wonder why they continue with the thankless tasks which have them in their offices before lectures start in the morning and leaving after the bar closes at night."

Maybe that was a silly thing to say as I do intend to stand for a sabbatical position at the end of my degree. I agree, that in the posts I hold in the union, I find the work that I do extremely rewarding. It was simply a term of phrase to symapthise with the current situation.

"I disagree. Imperial students are not apathetic."

My reply about imperial students was aimed at Ashley who had commented:

"It's called apathy Kirsty, surely you've been here long enough to realise that ;)"

The majority of Imperial Students consider themselves 'apathetic'. Just look at facebook to tell you that. Campaigning at Imperial is very difficult and met with a far more stony approach than at other universities. I know this first hand as I am the IC Fairtrade representative (we are not a society yet -when we are I can call myself a chair) and have recently been elected Welfare Campaigns officer.

"My experience in the Union on a number of levels leads me to one, inescapeable conclusion: The whole thing is enormosuly fragile."

I am somewhat confused that you can argue the union needs less support because it is fragile. We do have good internal communication and hopefully this will be improved further by the overhaul suggested in the Governance Review.

"I don't know why you think we are small and insignificant."

We are a tiny college with, if the no campaign wins, no external connections. The importance of the union to our members will remain the same. But the buck stops there. We will become very isolated and by insignificance I mean influencing anything other than internal affairs.

Nov 16 2006 16:44

Forgot this bit:

"Perhaps this is because they have their priorities right, and are actually at university to get a degree."

If a degree is all you want from being a student then that's fine by me. I myself want to gain some experience in leading an independant life and actually live a bit. As imperial's clubs and Societies are so popular I think this is the general consensus held by all.

59. Seb   
Nov 16 2006 18:49


"The majority of Imperial Students consider themselves 'apathetic'."

Because facebook defines politics along the American party system.

The fact is that partisan politics in the UK offers (as many people see it) false choices. People do not see why they should compromise on various issues in order to joint a political club. I'd argue that to a great degree, the only reason we have political parties at all is because we are lumped with a representative system that is built around the assumption of slow communications and mass illiteracy.

If you were, for example, to adopt citizens initiatives in parallel with the existing system (such as used in California) you would find turnouts for those votes would be significant.

Imperial students are exclusively of the technocratic background, which exacerbates the problem. The average IC student feels he/she knows the answers to issues they care about, recognises when they don't know, and tend not to be so big on overarching philosophical principles and political movements.

Is it any wonder then that people do not trust, and are instinctively suspicious, of ICU hacks wanting to join the NUS to represent "their" views?

I remember when the George Bush motion came to Council. Asside from it being outside what I see as a remit for ICU, in any case, how the hell am I supposed to vote on that issue? With my concience? I've *no* idea how I should best represent my constituencies wishes on that matter.

"am somewhat confused that you can argue the union needs less support because it is fragile."

Perhaps I didn't explain myself well.

ICU is fragile because what keeps it going is not what this years sabs and officers are doing, but because people are always leaving. It's not communication within a year or within structures that matter, what is utterly crucial is passing information down, to next years lot.

Looking to an external organisation to do that is sheer lunacy. Anything that undermines the absolute importance of generating knowledge and passing it down and the handover is pure poison to an organisation with such a high turnover of officers as a student union.

The fact that we have built up this experience is what makes ICU one of the best SU's in the country. Some other student unions more or less subcontract out running things like their bars and ents nights. We have trading committees and so forth which students sit on.

We are a member led organisation. Looking to an external organisation for training and instruction on how to run ourselves.. well you might as well let college take over.

Internal comunication (thank god) will never be determined by central union policy. Mostly, the clubs look after themselves and the CSC's make sure they have people to look after their clubs.

Kirsty, it sounds like you are a bit of a central union hack, as I was. If you want to really understand the union, you need to look at the grass routes level. When you see how much union activity goes on out of sight and out of mind of Beit Towers, you will understand why so many people do not care about issues like the NUS.

"We are a tiny college"

And we will still be a tiny college if Yes wins. We are not going to wag the NUS dog. The NUS will continue on it's merry way with or without us. It's policies will not change, and our voice will not change either. It'll be the same old NUS hacks making the same, tired, points. And if we do run our own campaigns for issues that do affect us, on which the NUS disagrees (like higher funding for Lab based courses), we will be in an even worse position than before because we will have run down our own campaign experience.

Will you really be able to represent your members views? Will you even solicit their views, or just assume you know what's best for them by signing up to whichever campaign the NUS is currently running?

In terms of represenatation, the NUS simply can't deliver what ICU want's or needs. In fact, in terms of campaigning, I don't think it matters one jot if we are in or out, other than the limitations being in will impose upon ICU.

We can have as many external connections as we choose to make. We have always been "isolated", if that is your definition (though I recall we worked with the NUS, ULU and the Aldwych group over fees), and we have never looked to ULU to run welfare campaigns.

60. Tris   
Nov 16 2006 19:48

A convincing argument.

61. John   
Nov 16 2006 20:08

I don''t think we''re actually that isolated. Our clubs and societies (you know, the *important* bit of ICU) have links to dozens of other universities. And as others have pointed out, being in London gives us a really loud voice on any political issues. Importantly, we'd also have a greater choice to campaign only for things we actually believed in.

I feel we have very little to lose from being independent. It suits what little ideology we have (we are a proud, individualistic university) and really won't affect us that much. And with an extra £52k per year we could have some really *killer* parties.

NUS have yet to justify their price.

Nov 16 2006 23:04


Nov 16 2006 23:17


64. Eugene   
Nov 17 2006 02:00

I don't know whether this has any relevance, but I recall Felix printing a full page colour advertisement over the summer term for a candidate standing for DPFS, and continued to print the usual articles involving the other candidates and their manifestos. I am unclear as to whether Felix contacted the other candidates at the time about this but there was no impoundment or similar penalty if I recall correctly.

Another point upon reading the story is the interpretation of the election regulations in the article: "every candidate in an election must be given equal access to the media and notify the other party of any interview or debate taking place". Can this be interpreted to mean that the onus is on a candidate to inform other parties when they are about to use certain media, rather than the media being responsible forapproaching all sides involved whenever someone wants to use their services?

I guess these points are mostly irrelevant given the referendum is now over but I'd still like to see why the freedom of the press was not allowed in this instance

Nov 17 2006 13:58

@felix lovers.

Uh, okay.

Nov 17 2006 15:23

I'd just like to say thanks to everyone who contributed. I think it's great that people have taken an interest - whichever way they vote. With regards to welfare campaigns that Imperial students are interested in (NUS affiliation or not) please contact me by following the link as I have recently been elected Welfare Campaigns officer.

Seb - I would not describe myself as a central union hack. Until the last few weeks I had very little involvement in central union activites. My primary interest lies in clubs and societies and you will most often find me conducting club affairs in SAC, my home from home. :D

67. Seb   
Nov 18 2006 01:33

If you know what SAC is, then you are already well on the path to the dark side of Hackdom. You sit on council. You are the welfare campaigns officer... you may be in denial, but you are already admitting to thinking of a sab possition...

For you, Clubs and socs were just the gateway drug... I remember the experience well.

Nov 19 2006 13:55

This has been the best Live! thread ever. Ashley, can you make us all a board so we can continue to whinge and rant?

69. Editor   
Nov 19 2006 13:56

Continue to whinge and rant here. That's one of the main objectives of Live! after all...

Nov 19 2006 15:01

Andy, can I rename "Comment" to "Whinges and Rants"? It is far more descriptive and judging by the take up of the opportunity to do so on Live! I could easily increase my number of contributors by a multiple of 5.

Nov 19 2006 15:04

Despite the recall, the majority of Guildsheets placed around the RSM building had already been taken and read - partly because of the great article in the back. Therefore the attempts to hide the adverts proved relatively futile. Also, at no point did any members of the RSM committee preferentially advertise either side of the NUS argument; students were informed that they should vote and read for themselves both sides.

Nov 19 2006 16:31

I already had a copy of Guildsheet before it was impounded - it had my photo in it so I was quite excited. And I made a point of picking up another when it was rereleased (becasue my first had got a bit tatty and mayoanaisse covered). I think the profile of Guildsheet has certainly been raised this week so at least something good came out of the whole impounding business (which I think was quite a reckless idea and not a decision I welcomed).

Seb - I know what SAC is cos I work there on reception. (By SAC I was referring to the place rather than the committee or the person.) I admit sitting on council will probably make me a hack but since I was only voted in last week at a meeting I couldn't attend, I haven't actually sat on a council meeting yet. (I'm sure Andy Sykes would point out that despite not being on council I still attended a council meeting for fun a few weeks back, but hell I was bored.) I don't consider this a bad thing though - you described yourself as a hack. Why should it be a negative thing?

73. Seb   
Nov 20 2006 01:14

I meant the committee (Assuming it didn't get renamed at some point): Student Activities Committee, it oversaw budgets for all CSC's etc. BAG was a subcommittee of SAC that went through all of the budget requests for the next year. God help you if you conduct club and society affairs in SAC and want to avoid Hackdom!

The Student Activites Centre on the other hand is a different kettle of fish.

Nothing negative about being a Hack per se, but their is a a tendency to forget that the Union is actually about our members doing things, not Hacks organising things, and that the Hacks should really be about making sure our members can do what they want to do, not trying to tell them how to do it/ensuring it is done for them by trained professionals.

74. Seb   
Nov 20 2006 01:16

Which, incidentaly, is why I think it is a bad idea for us to look to the NUS for campaigning issues.

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See Also

  1. Why vote No? Do it for your club!
    14 Nov 06 | NUS Debate
  2. Now I'm a believer - I?d vote Yes!
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  3. New Guildsheet Out Today
    14 Nov 06 | News

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