Tag Archives: societies


Everyone who uses Lancaster’s IT systems will have been briefed many times on the much-publicised phishing attack this summer that led to applicants’ data being stolen – for example, see:
For most local users, the changes to IT access since then have been a relatively minor inconvenience, though they’ve caused substantial increases in workload for staff who do still have access to relevant systems and data – basically we can’t all be as functional as we used to be, because we can’t stay secure that way. But for some student societies the problems are more significant – an anonymous correspondent submits the following (content redacted to remove all the swear words):
The uni decided, over the summer, that it’s too much of a data breach hazard for societies to have IT accounts. They decided this… because staff got phished. Clearly, staff getting phished and a data breach happening that way means society IT accounts are a problem. So what do they do? Do they make a sensible choice and enforce regular password changes for society accounts? Enforce more data protection training? Remind societies to be secure?
No, they just decide to nuke society accounts. Nuke ’em entirely. Do they communicate this effectively? No they don’t.
ISS were meant to get all this sorted before term started. Naturally, it wasn’t sorted in time, but for some reason they decided to not allow room bookings to be released to societies. LUSU front desk staff had to rescue societies by doing bookings for them. Any socs who wanted to have their meeting places on their freshers’ week advertising had only from the Monday of freshers’ week to go to LUSU and book rooms.
Otherwise many many societies would have been handing out flyers that said ‘WE’RE THINGY SOC, WE LIKE THE THING… FIND US… SOMEWHERE. WE GUESS.’
On top of this, the nuking of society accounts means that now, the only way to get any room bookings done is via the personal student accounts of any exec who’ve been verified as exec members. They now seemingly have to validate ALL student exec members EVERY YEAR… which will totally happen on time. And then de-validate them whenever execs change hands. Oh, that’ll be great, won’t it?
On top of that, there’s zero policy in place for non-student exec. At all. Not one bit of thought about us. We are a thing. I’m doing an important activity-coordinating role and now I can’t access room bookings or the society’s email inbox at all – not even room bookings viewing access, so I can’t go ‘Hey, President, please book exactly these rooms at exactly these times’, unless I physically use one of them for access. Similarly, I can’t send emails as the society.
Also, society web pages can be hosted on uni servers. Those are tied to the society account. Or were. We were told that ISS wouldn’t pull society accounts until they had a solution to this, and every time we ask anyone about it, they say ‘Oh, the unioncloud page?’ and we say ‘No, the society web page hosted on uni servers, this one’ and show them, and they say ‘Oh I dunno lol’.
This has happened, our correspondent suggests, because someone’s used ‘a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.’

subtext sympathises with our correspondent but also sympathises with ISS, who found themselves all over the press this summer and facing external investigations left, right and centre. We trust that an amicable solution can be found.


In subtext 173, we reported on the activities of an unofficial far-right student society, which made its presence felt at a public lecture on the politics of fear by raising concerns about the ethnic makeup of Europe, advocating a white Christian Europe, alleging that Israel forcefully castrates immigrants and that migrants are all rapists. The conversation spilled out into the lobby, where a heated exchange between the group and the other attendees ensued. Since the Students’ Union (LUSU) had been dragging its heels in the process of granting them society status all year, we figured that they would never get anything even close to official recognition by LUSU, especially after our report on their behaviour. After that report, there was a small amount of uproar on their Facebook page, a very boring letter accusing us of libel which we published in subtext 174, a bit of hectoring from the on-campus far-left, and a SCAN article. And that, we thought, was that…

… Until the other day, when we found out that the Students’ Union has gone the extra mile to get them their recognition! All applications for official recognition by LUSU are scrutinised by a ‘Societies Committee’, which voted to postpone the decision to recognise the group until a later meeting. subtext has learned that last week the LUSU full-time officers took an executive decision to ignore the societies committee and ‘approve’ the society in question for official recognition.

To be fair to the LUSU executive, they have identified the ‘high risk’ involved in approving the group, and have been working with the university to develop a strategy to mitigate against those risks.

Firstly, members of the group are going to be given a jolly good talking to about LUSU’s code of conduct, and you’d better know that they won’t be getting an inch unless they swear up, down and sideways that they’ll follow it – indeed, there has even been talk of crossing hearts and hoping to die.

If that doesn’t have them quaking in their boots, there’s also going to be one hell of a risk assessment carried out. It doesn’t end there. The group, which has defended individuals guilty of inciting hate crime, are going to have hate crime explained to them by a local policeman. This will, apparently, help them to recognise signs of people hijacking the group for nefarious political purposes. Because we can’t have extremists in a fascist group, can we?

At the time of writing, the society’s application has been deferred yet again, pending further investigation, following what we understand was an intervention by a senior member of LUSU staff. While another deferral is better than an outright approval, subtext is amazed that the elected LUSU officers were willing to approve the society.

subtext decided to take another look at the group’s Facebook page.

Aside from the usual witless, unsophisticated kvetching about gender studies and white people being oppressed, this society, which LUSU full time officers were happy and willing to grant money, resources, and official recognition to, is relaxed about historical inaccuracies on TV unless a black person shows up. They celebrated the election of Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian autocrat who has worked to quash press freedom and curb civil liberties but is alright because he annoys George Soros (the Emmanuel Goldstein of the alt-right). A member of their group writes Facebook posts under the pseudonym ‘Enoch’. They find it ‘sickening’ that Lauren Southern was banned from the UK. Ms Southern, in case you were wondering, once wrote: ‘another problem I have with Hitler? He fawned over Muslims more sycophantically than Justin Trudeau. Bibi Netanyahu was right to point out that Hitler decided on the Holocaust partly because Middle Eastern Muslims told him they didn’t want Jews expelled into the region.’

Aside from that they’re a box of fluffy ducks, apparently.



Should we care if some of our students express views the majority find distasteful? Freedom of speech is a truism in universities and if a few people want to form a society to lament the demise of ‘traditional Christian Europe’, is it our place to stop them? Are they hurting anyone else?

Maybe, yes.

subtext has received reports of several seminars being disrupted, on a regular basis, by small groups of students, who have sought to overwhelm conversations with repeated and extended interventions, often wholly unrelated to the text under discussion.

Seminars have been forced to address such pressing topics as:

– Do Jewish or Asian people control much of Britain’s wealth?

– Will the US Army be weaker than the Chinese army if it welcomes transgender people to serve as soldiers?

– Should women be teaching men?

These interventions, delivered in a rapid succession of questionable debating points (Gish Galloping – Google it), have at times been accompanied by explicit hate speech against disabled and trans people. Lecturers and seminar tutors believe that these contributions are racist, antisemitic and sexist. Female staff seem to be targeted in particular.

The reaction of other students in the seminars seems to be bemusement and taking offence.

Reportedly both first and third year seminars have been affected in this way, so if any readers thought this phenomenon would just naturally expire when the key players graduated, they may have a while to wait.


subtext’s report on racist and antisemitic comments and questions at a public lecture (see subtext 173) seems to have hurt a few feelings (see letters, below). Isn’t it amazing how quickly people who insist on their own right to express hateful opinions start throwing around words like ‘libel’ and ‘slander’ as soon as someone challenges them? As so often in right-wing populist circles, it seems free speech only travels in one direction.

Since the report, LUSU has confirmed that the group in question was denied society status ‘because there was not enough detail in the students’ plan of activity or their description of the group to convince the committee of the group’s sustainability or unique offer, two of the key criteria that all groups are judged by.’ Perhaps the applicants forgot to mention important details, like how they get hot under the collar about black actors playing historical figures on TV, or equal marriage? LUSU went on to clarify that they ‘are working with the students, as we would any student wanting to form a society, to help them address these concerns of the committee and anticipate that they will resubmit an application[…] The union respects the rights of individuals and groups to hold or express potentially controversial opinions – however, all of our groups are subject to union policies designed to deal with instances of discrimination, harassment or hate speech, which are applied accordingly if issues are reported and evidenced.’ So that’s all right then.

Despite not being a student society, the group in question nevertheless set out to organise an event on campus to discuss the life and times of Vladimir Putin, an event ostensibly co-organised by the Russian Society. Until, that is, it turned out that the Russian Society was, to quote LUSU again, ‘suspended temporarily after its president decided to step down this week and it came to light that the group does not meet a number of the union’s administrative requirements. The union is now working with the Russian Society to address these issues in order to return the group to active status.’ No doubt this sudden interest in the administrative workings of the Russian Society, which led to the campus event being cancelled, was entirely coincidental, and nothing to do with their links with the other group. But isn’t it wonderful how LUSU wants to help all societies to meet their full potential!