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Live! - Opinion

This article is an opinion piece and should be taken as such. It is highly likely to be biased, but either the article itself or the ensuing discussion will probably be entertaining. Live! takes no editorial line on opinion pieces.

Union Review of the Year 2007

Jun 20 2007 12:30
William the Conquerer
How well has the union really done this year? John Collins thinks he knows, but perhaps there's more to it...
Beit Towers - don't believe the propaganda

With John Collins' Union Review of the Year now published, Live! presents an alternative point of view.

It has been an extraordinarily farcical year for Imperial College Union, and I am proud to have led this organisation through an intense period of "change", generating more bureaucracy than ever before.

This year we have delivered a £1.8 million redevelopment project to fit a shiny new lift, which is frequently broken. Of course, this was actually started by last year's team and we delivered it late, but we'll take the credit for the fact it exists now.

We are set to invest a further £3.2 million into the Beit Building next year if College give us the money, which we hope they will: we've already given in to some blackmail, as conceding rather than fighting gives us more time to go to NUS events. After all, the national issues are more important to our political careers. Thanks to this investment our students can enjoy a brighter and more accessible Union Building (except when both lifts are out, like they are at the moment), and the College can enjoy a revitalised level of control over ICU. Should funding for the next phase of the Beit Master-plan be secured, then future students can look forward to a state of the art student services centre that will provide much needed support to our core business - yes, that means you, lowly students, you are nothing but a business case.

It has been a pivotal year for external relationships. In the largest referendum ever to be held at our College, our students narrowly chose to re-affiliate to the National Union of Students. We had the highest turnout ever recorded, thanks mainly to bullying international students to vote when they had no idea what was going on. Whilst we are sad to lose our ties to the University of London when Imperial becomes an independent university this July, I am delighted that our students have chosen to send the Labour supporters amongst us to jolly good parties funded by the national student movement.

Our new website has grown to become the most visited student website in the UK, and probably Europe, turning over £300,000 in its first year thanks to online memberships. At the same time our other online shop has lost £80,000 on naff crystal glassware. This new website has not only improved our ability to spread propaganda, but we have also got rid of Live! news feeds where people found out what was really going on. Oh and this was all done by last year's team, but we'll take credit for that too.

We have boldly chosen to reform our governance and embrace best practice in the "third sector", whatever that is. From Autumn 2007, ICU will be governed by a highly skilled but ultimately powerless Trustee Board, bringing in expertise from external members to give us a long term strategic vision which College can over-rule anyway. Thanks to our governance reforms we can now use trendy buzzwords within the "student movement", embracing "good governance" and reaching out to our "grassroots" members. Not that we'd know what a grassroots student was (are they the distasteful people in the bar?), but the phrase is trendy with our new chums in the NUS.

Our centenary events have engaged and entertained thousands of members of the College community and raised tens of thousands for Centenary appeals, including a bit more from Trevor Phillips than we were expecting. The highlight of the celebrations was marked by our tremendously successful Centenary Ball, which was attended by over 2500 guests in June 2007 and attracted national publicity after we mistakenly let someone from LBC in to hear our new donor talk.

Throughout the past year we have actively sought to sell out to Imperial College to improve our chances of getting jobs there afterwards. In January 2007 we launched a Sports Partnership with Sport Imperial to bring in cash for new equipment, with the only price being a small loss of control. We have drawn up new agreements that will see the union become a College department within five years, ultimately abolishing the "good governance" we've introduced with our powerless trustee board.

Shamed by the College, who switched to Fairtrade produce at the start of the year all by themselves, our students decided that we should support Fairtrade: mainly because College wants Fairtrade University status and that means we have to. We successfully defeated some parts of the environmental policy, allowing us to continue emitting toxic hydrocarbons whilst discussing "good governance" and attending meetings of the "student movement".

Managing change is never easy and all of these achievements have only been delivered thanks to the dedication of our officers, staff and volunteers. Some of these changes have been painful, which is why your bar service is so lousy, but I am confident that they will make me remembered for ever, at least for something. Sorry we didn't manage to lower bar prices, but we only said that to get elected - its an "operational issue" we can't do anything about anyway.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to lead the Imperial College Department of Students this year and I would like to thank the students of Imperial for giving me the chance to hand as much to College as possible. All this has led to College naming us as the best sabbatical team in recent memory and we're proud of fulfilling our mandate to service College the best way we can. All this leaves me is to wish the new Sabbatical team and trustees of the Union the very best of luck in the next academic year, they're going to need it after the mess we've created.

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Discussion about “Union Review of the Year 2007”

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.
Jun 20 2007 12:54

I am so touched by this review, I never thought John would be so honest.

Jun 20 2007 14:27


Jun 20 2007 14:34


Jun 21 2007 16:01

I heard a rumour that this years Sabb team wouldn't be content to leave without planting a member to keep an eye on things and formly disciplining at least one of the new Sabbs elects!

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