Thursday, 29 November 2007

Official platform for change is discarded by EUSA

Here is a (rather long) letter sent in by a reader of our blog who tried to set up a society aimed at addressing some of the problems with EUSA. With their permission we've decided to publish it.

These days EUSA does not like change or challenges, and their control over societies is unacceptable. A group of people set up a society that aimed to offer people a fresh platform for the discussion of politics, to tackle the apathy that existed amongst students today with information and contacts within politics and to help people understand the way the university works and what they need to do if they want to get involved without the EUSA propaganda. Simply, it was to be a society that wanted to help students get the most out of university and a greater knowledge of modern politics that wasn't run by an exclusive clique, it would have been more relaxed and more representative. Enough people were interested that the group decided to make it an official society by registering with EUSA, hoping that by getting in the system they would be able to provide a true platform and perhaps even get to see the workings of EUSA more closely so that perhaps they could work together to make EUSA start functioning for students and become representative. There were no attacks at EUSA, the group just wanted more for students, it wasn't trying to stir anything up.

The first problem arose when the name of the society was vetoed. "The EUSA Reform Society" was immediatly shot down because it threatened EUSA too much, it seems these particular people are fairly loose with their democracy. But the group didn't want to have to deal with the lengthy process of appealing that, since it would have taken up too much time and thus there would have been less time to work on the society itself. The group decided on Society for Student Initiative. The name was general enough so that EUSA couldn't get mad, but it covered the goals of the group and their desire to help students get more active.

The support, name change and constitution that was meant to be as non threatening to EUSA as possible made little difference as the group was denied status as a society. This was quite a blow to all of us that had been eager to support the society but it was not a complete surprise to the group of people that started the movement. They had been made aware that there had been a leak and people now believed that the society was threatening EUSA and that they intended on taking EUSA on, their were also names mentioned and hostility directed towards them despite never being given the chance to explain if they were actually involved or not (even though the president, secretary and treasurer etc etc never hid their identities so such speculation and hostility were unwarranted when people were just ill informed).

The president was emailed a reason from EUSA, and it outlined exactly why they would not accept this society, the reasons are fairly easy to dismiss and the fact that their was tremendous support for the group shows that it obviously was needed despite what EUSA said. I have personally seen the email and I thought it might do some good to counter the points on this blog for people to see, the society will never be, but I know that those involved will be dedicating a lot of time to getting that clique out of their undeserved seats of power.

1) There was an overlap between the proposed society and the Political Society.

So if people want to discuss and debate politics, get a better handle on contemporary political events and get political contacts and they don't want to join the Political Society then they just have to miss out? Obviously the Political Society is not adaquete for catering for all students or the proposed society would have never started in the first place. And the proposed society wasn't just going to be dealing with politics, that was just one of several focal points.

2) There was an overlap between the proposed society and the political parties and campaigning groups.

Now this one was just ridiculous. The Society was meant to be neutral ground, not catering just for one political ideology. Poltical parties and campaigning groups can be stiff, set in their ways, and of course not open to everyone, thats one the reasons the proposed society was started.

3) It overlaps with EUSA.

Funny. EUSA is not representative, it throws around words like democracy but they have their own version of democracy that is flawed and favours one set of ideologies above the rest, and that ideology sees causes as more important that students. If EUSA was up to scratch nobody would have needed to set up a group like this.

I just thought people should know that there are some groups out there that actually wanted to make change but at the same time be able to work with EUSA and find a smooth way for students to get the most out of their time at Edinburgh, but they don't like the way EUSA runs things and so people become misinformed (just like at the rector election) and then EUSA puts a stop to everything.