subtext counted 66 people at Lancaster UCU’s ‘Everything students need to know about the strike’ meeting on Tuesday 13 February in the Faraday Lecture Theatre, which was either disappointingly low or surprisingly high, depending on your expectations. The lead presenter, Dr Jacob Phelps, started off by stressing how dull pensions were, and followed this with a lively 15-minute presentation on the subject. Particularly entertaining was Dr Phelps’s spine-chilling story of ‘the covenant’ – the shadowy conspiracy that plots to destroy our retirements. No, not really. According to the Pensions Regulator it means ‘the employer’s legal obligation and financial ability to support their defined benefit scheme now and in the future.’
Dr Phelps closed by stressing that ‘a university that doesn’t care long-term for its staff doesn’t care for its students,’ and listing three things which students could do: help get others informed; use your powerful voice; and get involved.
Questions followed, and everything was all very polite, until LUSU was mentioned, at which point there were literal shrieks of derision from several of the students present: ‘They’re not trying! They took a stance to not take a stance!’ Many of the UCU members present were happy to share their memories of the days when students’ unions used to behave, well, like students’ unions: ‘They used to organise! That is the point of a students’ union.’
As far as your subtext correspondent could see, none of the LUSU sabbaticals turned up.