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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.

ULU Council in boathouse “farce”

Jun 21 2002 21:21
Mustafa Arif
UCL Union hacks make mockery of ULU Council in the face of positive news for the boathouse.
UL rowing - a political football at ULU Council?

Wednesday night saw a packed Room 101 play host to an Extraordinary meeting of ULU Council, the University of London Union’s governing body. The meeting was petitioned to discuss the future of the University of London’s boathouse, in Chiswick. The boathouse is UL property, managed by ULU. It is primarily there for the UL Boat Club but is also used by several College clubs (including the Imperial Medics boat club). The boathouse’s future has been in doubt for several years as it is desperately needs renovation but the University has so fair failed to find funds to pay for it. ULU, to date, does not have a policy on the future of the boathouse, although it has been pressing the University to find a solution.

Sarah Chapman UCLU’s “Clubs, Societies & Student Development Officer” (it’s a sabbatical post – UCLU don’t have a President…) tabled a motion effectively proposing that ULU to shut down the UL Boat Club and calls on the University to sell the Boat Club. Unsurprisingly, this did not draw a positive reaction from many of the Clubs and Unions who make use of the UL Boathouse. The matter was a subject of protracted debate at the ICU Exec meeting the night before, with President, Senthooran Ganeshwaranthan, keen to ensure that future provision for the ICSM boat club at Chiswick is secure. Andy Heeps (for it is he) noted that since “UCL Union never gives a f*** about its students” the proposal was likely to be driven by internal politics at UCL.

Many of the people attending the meeting were ordinary students (you know, the ones who sometimes come to the first couple of ICU Council meetings and run away…) who were concerned about their Boathouse. This all bode well for a productive meeting. Neil Rogers, ULU’s Vice-President (Sports) began by producing a statement from the University, which made clear that it is now committed to ensuring that the boathouse is refurbished and remains under University ownership.

Unfortunately it went downhill from there. Ms Chapman got up to speak to her motion and, after ranting about ULU not doing anything, announced she was withdrawing the motion. While receiving a cheer from other UCL hacks, the rest of the room was left astounded. Peter Taylor, the rather “Crispy”, Council Chair decided that a motion could not be withdrawn during a meeting. So we continued to proceed with discussing a couple of amendments (from other UCL Union officers) watering down the original motion.

On we went to the “big” amendment. This had been proposed by the ULU sabbs (ans curiously was also seconded by Imperial Medics President, Shazia Munir). It essentially deleted the entire motion and replaced it with something generally supportive of the boathouse and ULU’s approach. A point order was raised by Sumon Banerjee, a Kings College delegate claiming that such an amendment was too substantive and could not be discussed, technically, as an amendment.

(At this moment, while we were busy voting down the point of order, a couple of random students sitting next to me asked what was going on. I used a hand gesture to indicate something derogatory and they seemed to understand. They said they were rowers from St Georges’ Medical School and thought the whole thing was a complete farce with no relation to what actually mattered to them.)

Some other UCL hack then decided to call quorum. Curiously enough, a couple of UCL people seemed to have vanished by this time. While the room was packed, two successive recounts showed that only 34 delegates were present – one short of quorum. The meeting was duly closed. Mr Rogers at this point lost his cool and shouted abuse at the departing UCL delegates accusing them of not considering their students.

So that was the end of it. No policy passed. An evening wasted. Although Mr Ganeshwaranathan commented it was important that Ms Chapman’s motion had not been passed, as it would only have got in the way of the University finding a solution to the issue. He also pointed out that it was good news for Rob Davnport, ULU VP (Sport)-elect, as it meant "he doesn't have to do anything".

The meeting was later described by one QMUL delegate as "the worst I've seen in five years - and that's really saying something." Another (graduating) hack present mused, “at least that Council has made me happy in my own mind that I've got better things to do with my life than still be involved with student politics”. Although I do wonder how the same individual managed to put up with RCS Gen Coms.

The only consolation was that on the way home, Mr Davenport found he had a spare doughnut left over from a club/society training session he’d run that afternoon, which he kindly offered to me. Mmmmm. Doughnuts. Mmmmmmm.

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Discussion about “ULU Council in boathouse “farce””

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 22 2002 12:45

ULU is a farce. The Union Building should be handed over to the small Bloomsbury Colleges for them to run as a collective union, the sports leagues should be administered from a room in the basement of Senate House, if the smaller unions want to keep collective things like a Boat House then they can pay for it.


2. idris   
Jun 23 2002 02:16

and yet again we have a delightfully revealing view of our own dear Pres' stand on student facilities vs good relations with the hierarchy:

Sen thinks we shouldn't pass motions like this (ooh, er matron) because they get in the way of the university "solving the problem". Personally I'd say that we shouldn't pass this motion because its a crap one and would legitimise the University's attempt to divest itself of a sporting resource valuable to its students.

If we just drive the univesity towards "finding a solution", and concentrate on oiling their cogs and so forth then we may just find that the solution they reach is to sell the boathouse. Hardly satisfactory.

Jun 25 2002 18:23

By the way, did anyone see the Guardian yesterday? was in it...

Shame didn't make it in, hey?

Jun 27 2002 12:02

I managed to cope with RCSU GenComs because I was young and innocent.

Well, young, anyway.

They were always entertaining when the ICU President and DP(F&S) turned up...

Jun 27 2002 20:31

has anyone else seen the new, 'crispy' M&M's.

Does David C. Rolls have anything to do with this?

Jun 29 2002 14:44

There are also "crispy" Cadburys chocolate fingers now.

Jul 13 2002 01:59

The Chair, Peter Taylor, should have not been allowed to conduct such a stupid farce as that extraordinary meeting of ULU Council.

But no voting member (ie those with speaking rights! *grumble*) bothered to challenge him.

Not just the dead cows who have had their spines removed!

Jul 13 2002 02:05

In fairness, I would have put an "end debate" proc motion, but I wanted to question the sabbs on their putting forward an amendment that they knew (or should of known) was illegal.

You could have asked to borrow my delegate card...

Jul 13 2002 02:13

Not having a go at you, but that other guy who said "all Tories are racist".

The problem about being a Socialist is that it's far too much work!

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