‘To govern is to choose. To appear to be unable to choose is to appear to be unable to govern.’ So said a wise person… well, OK, actually it was Nigel Lawson. Still, it’s a good quote.
LUSU’s executive committee has decided against taking a position on the UCU strike. They report that, ‘Lancaster University Students’ Union sympathises with the position of the UCU and their members, but in the best interests of our students we do not wish to see this action go ahead and believe all sides of the debate have a part to play in reducing the impact on our members’ education. It was decided that we as your students’ union would take the position of supportive communication, in that we will endeavour to provide impartial information pertaining to both sides of the dispute, making sure that each of you are supported, empowered and informed enough to take your own stance on this matter. We understand that this is a big issue and there will be students on either side of the argument, therefore our priority is reducing the impact on your academia.’
They’ve been as good as their word. What should students do? Well, LUSU has produced two infographics. ‘If you support UCU strike action…’ then you can lobby the VC and ask your lecturers how you can support them. But ‘If you don’t support UCU strike action…’ then you can lobby the VC and encourage academic support from your lecturers. That’ll tell them.
Some readers may feel relieved that, at least, LUSU hasn’t come out against the UCU and NUS position on the strike. But, others will argue, the duty of a students’ union is to take a decision and fight hard for it. Are students really getting ‘value for money’ when their union behaves more like the Citizens’ Advice Bureau than a representative body?
Two years ago LUSU abolished most of its democratic decision-making processes, removing Union Council and replacing it with a labyrinthine system of ‘student juries’ and referendums, to be called upon to reach a consensus – slowly – whenever the executive proposed doing anything contentious. Non-resolutions like the current position on strike action are, as we predicted, the result.