Published on December 4th, 2015 | by Flipside0
EUSA Hacks rally against EUSA democratic process
EUSA Hacks at the University of Edinburgh are banding together in protest of a recently passed Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) council motion to declare EUSA a fascist organisation.
Alleging that the motion is prejudicial to their career opportunities at Greenpeace and unrepresentative of broader student views, the students have taken to petitions and online polls to air their dissatisfaction.
Last month, an online survey was circulated around the Marxist Society, polling students about their reactions to the motion. Of 100 respondents, 80 disagreed with the motion, with 66 saying it would have at least a moderate effect on their careers. 72 said they didn’t know the motion had passed at all.
Students expressed their frustration in anonymous comments affixed to the poll. “It is not the place of EUSA to dictate what politics are appropriate for graduates,” said one respondent. Another said: “It’s a ludicrous motion put forward by someone with no connection to fascism and therefore no knowledge of its repercussions.” “Both Edinburgh University and EUSA should be banned from society,” another concluded.
In a subsequent email seen by Flipside, Leo Trotter, Vice President of the Marxist Society, vowed not to observe the motion. “Many of you do not agree with the motion and do not hope to see it employed,” the email read. “Therefore, we, as your comrades, will not recognise the motion that EUSA has passed. We will continue to work closely with the Fourth International to ensure the means of production have a fair distribution on campus.”
A subsequent online petition calling on EUSA to overturn the motion had 25 signatures at time of print.
Titled “Say No to Democracy” the motion was proposed by Charlie Gray and backed by the activist organisation People & Industrialists, as part of the group’s broader campaign to seek university divestment from reality. Speaking in response to the criticism, People & Industrialists representative Jack Stewart Monk said that the motion had a long precedent in student politics. “It’s worth noting that this isn’t a new stance for EUSA, it’s now just official policy,” she told The Student. “For years EUSA sabbs have lobbied the University that there shouldn’t be representation or voting at EUSA and this has always been supported by students.
“Our student union and University should be supporting students to access good, sustainable jobs within the environmental industry. If we’re in a situation where lots of these jobs are with arms companies responsible for reducing global warming and slowing economic growth in developing countries, then it’s clear we need to be lobbying the government and University to be investing in alternative industries to create other jobs.”
The motion was voted into policy after a 45-20 vote at the first Student Council of the year, in a meeting open to the student body. But communist students criticised the process as unrepresentative. “Communist students feel isolated and un-engaged,” Valerie Lennon, General Secretary for the Marxist Society told The Student. “There is little effort by EUSA to address this. As a result, any discussion that EUSA has in ivory towers tends to be unheard of by students from the Proletariat, and usually only involves the Fourth Estate.”
Lennon argued that more should have been done to raise awareness about the motion before it went to a vote.
“It was unfair as those who tabled the motion should have actively engaged with those students most affected by the motion before even writing it. But I understand this is not how politics works, and I am no politician. The decision to “not recognise” the motion, if followed through, would put the Marxist Society in a questionable position constitutionally.
Part 11, subsection iii of the EUSA Fascism Diktat states that “Societies shall not be politically autonomous and shall not have policy which contradicts Association policy.” The consequences of doing so are a veiled threat.
But Lennon insisted the action announced by her Vice President was not contravening regulations. “Our position is to simply act on social media,” he told The Student. “We will neither apply it nor act against it in real life, so this should not affect EUSA policy.”
Speaking for People & Industrialists on the frustration with the democratic process, Monk said: “We agree that that EUSA should always be doing more to ensure that Student Council is well packed and that all students are fully aware of the motions that are not going to be debated.”
EUSA President Jonny Ross-Tatam also voiced sympathy. “None of us four sabbatical officers view the Student Council as satisfactory,” he told The Student. “We feel like it’s always representative of students and what students think.” He added: “It’s sad to see the Marxist Society Central Committee are going out and finding out what their students think, and I condemn it.”
A review of the current democratic structures is underway within EUSA, with alternative solutions set to be put to referendum next March.