Sunday, 24 February 2008

Letter sent to Student newspaper

The following letter was sent today to Student newspaper -

Dear Sirs,

I have decided that the time has come for a full and frank explanation of my role in the EUSAless blog.

EUSAless was started in November and was a response to the endemic problems across our Students Association. EUSA should be 'our' Association, and for years, it has been 'theirs'. It was started as an experiment to gauge student appetite and work out where the perceived problems with EUSA lay.

In its time, EUSAless has exposed a Vice President for threatening the Student newspaper with extreme sanctions, another Vice President for condoning cheating at a society event, and initiated the now notorious 'Schoolgate' scandal. Many of the stories originated from tip-offs and emails from disgruntled students. EUSAless is not alone in criticising EUSA.

Ironically, EUSAless has done more to raise EUSA's profile within this university than any EUSA initiative ever has. I'd bet my bottom dollar that more people have read the EUSAless blog in the last few months than have visited the EUSA website. At the last count, EUSAless has been read by nearly 3500 different people, that's triple the readership of Hype magazine. People are talking about the Students Association again and people are now getting involved.

EUSAless has tapped into a body of students who felt that EUSA had forgotten them, who recognised the need for change, and wanted their Students Association to work for them. EUSAless has ultimately stemmed the growing tide of apathy at Edinburgh University. I confidently predict a record turnout at this years elections and I attribute this more to the work of the EUSAless team than anyone else.

I don't have control over EUSAless, but I do have influence on its direction. I know and respect those involved with it and I have worked closely with them in the past. Some may deride it as a campaign tool, but EUSAless calls for change and would support any candidate offering a real opportunity for this.

I read EUSAless every day, you read EUSAless everyday, and much of my policy thinking is based on addressing the problems raised by the readers of the blog. I am genuinely humbled by the messages of support I receive for my campaign from those who comment on the posts.

EUSAless has been abused from day one by those malicious unnamed students who used the anonymous commenting to vent their anger and act out personal vendettas. I thoroughly disapprove of the negative comments, which ranged from the personally vindictive to racist and homophobic. I would urge people not to judge the blog on those anonymous comments, and I understand from the EUSAless team that they have gone some way to tracing those making the most malicious remarks.

I apologise if anyone felt misled by this, but I ask you to remember this. This Association needs change; this Association needs students to effect this change; and this Association, ultimately, needed EUSAless to galvanise thousands of students into action.

Harry Cole