Management Undermine Democracy in QUBSU

14 09 2010

The Socialist Society received an e-mail from David Bradley on 25th June offering stalls at the University open days taking place on 9th and 10th September. After successful participation last year, we quickly responded and received an acceptance from David. We prepared to participate in these events. However, we were informed only a couple of days beforehand that societies were banned from taking part this year.

Democracy Under Threat at QUBSU

A Society member discussed this with Andrew Dodge, Director of the Students’ Union, who told him this was due to altercations between political societies and visiting students last year, some of which required intervention by security staff. This is unfortunate, but absolutely no reason to ban all political societies from taking part this year.
Those incidents whick took place last year were driven by sectarianism, which the Socialist Society is resolutely opposed to, being neither Nationalist nor Unionist. Some members were active in School Students Against Sectarianism, which united young people from both communities following the sectarian murder of Danny McColgan in 2001. Other members of our society played a similar, exemplary role following the killing of Michael McIlveen in Ballymena in 2006. This is the way to take on sectarianism, not undermining democratic rights!
The incidents last year should have been investigated by elected union representatives and disciplinary action taken against any society who were deemed to have provoked sectarian confrontation. The solution is not to tar all societies with the same brush and ban us from being able to introduce prospective students to our ideas at the Open Days. The whole point of having clubs and societies present is to give young people an idea of what they can participate in outside of their academic activities if they come to Queen’s – political societies, debate and action should be a central part of this, not something which is sidelined and brushed under the carpet. Numerous private companies, seeking to make a profit off prospective students and with no base on campus, were present while students’ political societies were banned!
Crucially, this decision was taken by the previous President and Executive Committee, but was enforced by Andrew Dodge who is entirely unelected. Mr. Dodge, while on the phone one of our members , actually boasted of the fact that he felt no obligation to justify this decision to the students at Queen’s University which the Union is meant to represent! Exactly who is it that runs the Union- the elected representatives of QUB students or unelected individuals like Mr. Dodge?

We called on the current Executive Committee to take immediate action to overturn this decision and ensure that ALL political societies who had applied were able to take part in the events, but to no avail.  Socialist Society members attempted to exercise their right to organise on campus, but were quickly escorted from the Union building by well-prepared security staff, before receiving the same illogical excuses for this censorship from Mr. Dodge.
This decision represents the beginning of a slippery slope towards the kind of political censorship that we now see on campuses of the University of Ulster, where political activity and debate is strangled and students have to jump through hoops just to get together and discuss ideas. Students must now get organised to oppose any attempts by Union management to undermine our basic democratic rights!




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