The disintegrating University of London Union passed a motion yesterday to show support for student military organisations, over the objections of the ULU President. The motion was brought by acting Birkbeck President Rob Park and supported by ICU President Stephen Brown. The last meeting of ICU Council passed a motion to express support for URNU, ULAS and OTC following the effective banning of the organisations at some University of London Colleges.
The organisations are currently being singled out for abuse by "Stop the War" groups at UCL, LSE and Goldsmiths. The paper stated the main aims of these organisations and tasked ULU with continually supporting them. The motion also mandates the ULU president to write letters persuading UL colleges who have banned recruitment by these organisations to rethink their policies.
The main controversy was not directly about the motion itself, but centered around the ULU President Jennifer Huseman. The meeting began by questioning her recent absences. She responded by pointing out that proof of illness was only needed when the absence extended over 7 days and that all her absences were down to her disability which she refused to elaborate on.
During discussion of the motion the ULU president stated that she did not wish to sign her name to the letters to other unions, saying that her family have a long history of pascifism and that it would be 'against my spiritual and cultural beliefs'. This was met by a large number of senate objecting to this point stating that it is in fact the president's job to carry out the the will of the students. After a vote, which passed with only two votes against, the point was retained. ICU President Stephen Brown has stated that Huseman's position would be untenable if she was unable to enact the will of the students. In her manifesto Huseman stated that she would work closely with 'Stop the War'.
ULU is currently running on around 2.5 Sabbatical Officers, with Huseman frequently absent due to illness (but apparently working from home) and Vice President Ashley McAlister resigning due to a "complete break down of communication" and "conflict" with the President. In an email announcing his resignation, he described Huseman's "hatred and agression", which increased after a January meeting of Senate. In that meeting he tried to air his concerns about her "performance, commitment and attendance".
ICU will be asking serious questions about its financial commitment to ULU, which it still pays money to for services. Along with ULU sports cups and leagues, a proportion of the money goes towards use of the boathouse, which is due to be sold off as it is not financially viable.
The dysfunctional organisation may have missed its last chance of redemption, apparently thanks to a President who lacks the commitment to get the job done.