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Military Bans Attract National Coverage

Mar 08 2008 22:36
Bugsy Malone
The bans on military organisations at a number of London Student Unions have attracted national coverage following a new ban introduced at UCL on Wednesday, supported by just 89 students.
Girls and Boys at London URNU like playing with toy boats like Puncher (foreground). UCL and Goldsmiths aren't allowed out to play.

Recent debates at London Colleges surrounding the recruitment activities of Student Military Organisations have hit the headlines this week with the Evening Standard and Daily Mail carrying coverage of the ban at UCL.

The UCL Motion preventing military recruitment, including attendance at freshers' fairs on campus, comes amid concerns over RAF Wittering's decision to order officers not to wear uniform in public following excessive taunts and abuse. The paper passed by UCL states that ?for the Union to use its resources to encourage students to join the military or participate in military recruitment activities at this time would give political and material support to the war? suggesting that military action in Iraq and Afghanistan is a direct decision of Military Organisations such as the OTC, URNU and ULAS rather than a politically motivated decision of the UK Government.

Members of Parliament have described the move as ?insulting? to men and women in public service and that the students at UCL are ?misguided? in their lack of support for Military Personnel. Imperial College Students, who proposed the recent motion passed at ULU Senate supporting Student Military Organisations, were invited to attend the UCL UGM on Wednesday when the paper was passed. UCL's sabbatical officer for Education and Welfare, Andrew Fernando, invited proposers of Imperial College Union?s Motion to speak at the UGM after fears that the ULU President would not send the mandated correspondence in time for their imminent meeting.

The Annual General Meeting had the largest attendance in UCL's recent history with more than 325 people in attendance at the start of the meeting
Samantha Godwin, UCL General Secretary

The letter would have made questionable difference as observers of the meeting were horrified at the bias in proceedings meaning that opposition to the paper was virtually impossible. The Chair of the meeting, Samantha Godwin, a UCL part-time executive officer and supporter of the paper, vacated the Chair to join the debate in favour of the motion. The General Secretary-elect, said by some observers to also be in favour of the motion, but denied by other supporters of it, took over the chair. A number of calls to count quorum from the paper?s opposition were ignored after the change of chair. The meeting had emptied drastically when the debate descended into pointless bickering about the War in Iraq and the Dividing Wall in the West Bank region of Israel/Palestine making the attendance far below the required 215 voting members (1% of the Student Population of UCL). The Chair was passed to another supporter of the paper who moved to a vote passing the motion by only 89 votes to 59. A strongly biased press release from UCL General Secretary, the same Samantha Godwin, claims that the numbers present were in excess of 300 despite no further motions being passed after a subsequent call for quorum was upheld.

The NUS have decided not to take a stance on the issue and have directed all press queries to ICU President, Stephen Brown. Speaking to Live!, Stephen commented: ?I am disappointed the NUS didn?t want to commit to anything correct or proper just because they don?t want to upset a load of bloody nutters?. Brown continued stating that the vote was "an absolute disgrace". Student Unions throughout London are still awaiting letters from ULU President, Jennifer Huseman, outlining ULU?s support of Student Military Organisations and condemning discrimination against the many student servicemen who attend London Universities. Student Unions need to remember that they are there to represent and act on behalf of their members, many of whom will be members of Student Military Organisations or are engaged in active military service prior to or alongside their studies, not to make political statements which restrict and discriminate against legitimate student activities.

Addendum from the Editor

The exact circumstances of the meeting appear to be in serious dispute, which both sides claiming different things. In the interest of fairness, the draft, unapproved minutes of the AGM are available from the box on the right.

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Discussion about “Military Bans Attract National Coverage”

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.
Mar 08 2008 23:19
 

Stephen Brown needs to control his temper. Always ranting about bloody nutters and the suchlike.

Mar 09 2008 21:47
 

Following correspondence from both sides at AGM the exact sequence of events seems to be in dispute. The account given in this article follows reports that came back from Imperial students at the meeting. The article has been revised to include additional details supplied by the opposing view.

I have included draft, unapproved minutes from the UCLU AGM, which can be downloaded in Word format here.

3. TL   
Mar 10 2008 02:18
 

From an opponent of the paper:

"

Chris Dodsworth wrote

at 12:07pm yesterday

Hey guys, can I just point out why people walked out. This is really annoying me. It was quite obvious the vote was lost. The reason we walked out was to get quorum called to try and stop the meeting going any further due to the way the meeting was being run.

Staying would not have helped. The same hardcore element was still there and if you had not noticed got the Palestinian link up motion through. From then on it was quite obvious which way it was going to go. There was no way you were going to defeat the motion even with the people who left there. if anything that would have legitimised the meeting as it would then have been in quorate & getting the motions overturned would be trickier. So please do not blame the people who left because they had good reason."

from:

http://uclac.facebook.com/group.php?gid=23853397344

Speaks for itself.

Mar 10 2008 10:15
 

Carried by student from:

SSEES, ,History, SSEES, SSEES, SSEES, History, Hebrew & Jewish St., German, Philosophy, History of Art, SSEES

...never trust an arts student...

Also - is this motion legal? My (limited) understanding of the education act would suggest that UCL, by taking a view of palistine, is leaving themselves badly exposed to legal action. Not as though this (section) of the motion is about a local issue.

Mar 10 2008 11:26
 

Maybe it is because they are arts students but when did 89 plus 59 make 222?

If the General Secretary is to be beleived then all the people who left were doing so tactically to make the motion fall. In that case surely the votes 'for' should be more than half that required for quorum. Again it may be beacuase they are arts students but last time I checked 89 was less than 110.

Mar 10 2008 12:15
 

My understanding is that the UCL motion only becomes illegal if public money is allocated to support it. If they spend even 1p of tax payers money on campaign material then there could be a case to answer...

7.  
Mar 10 2008 15:27
 

But sabbs time = tax payers money and the UCL sabbs are now bound by the policy to support it.

Mar 11 2008 12:16
 

Tax Payers Money + everyone who works and pays into the system, this includes members of the armed forces that are serving in these wars, so if the UCLU is so against the war are they going to refuse the money from the tax's the hardworking servicemen and women pay???? if not they are being very hypocritical

Mar 11 2008 14:39
 

The motion would only become "illegal" if it is outside the constitution (the objects) of UCL Union. The vast majority of constitutions will contain a phrase like "to further the interests of students generally" or "to further issues of extra-curricular knowledge and interest"

Then, you have to refer to the guidance issued by the Attorney General on ultra vires: it basically states that you have to prove an educational benefit (for instance, affiliations to political parties are subject to this).

Mar 11 2008 15:48
 

"But sabbs time = tax payers money and the UCL sabbs are now bound by the policy to support it."

Err, 1. Sabbs are technically students paid a living stipend for a sabbatical year, not a salary so just as non-sabbatical officers can be mandated to carry out a policy they're not being paid to perform it its part of their obligations of union office.

2. The sabbs aren't being made to campaign for anything or spend time on anything, they just have to not do something (i.e. set up officer training corp stalls) and adhere to the union's policy at meetings at ULU they'd be going to anyways.

11. Alice   
Mar 11 2008 19:16
 

Wooo! Puncher!

I miss her....

Mar 12 2008 10:15
 

UCL's Cheese Grater has an interesting take on it: http://www.cheesegratermagazine.org/AGMissue.pdf

Mar 13 2008 14:53
 

And the GenSec has been suspended pending a review of the meeting. Apparently this means all policies passed at the meeting are also suspended.

Mar 17 2008 02:35
 

Fernando is the E&W Officer these days? No way! Next time I drop by UCL Union I'll have to kick his butt over this.

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