Tag Archives: LUSU


Contributed by Ronnie Rowlands.

Readers of subtext will have been pleased to learn that Lancaster University is currently enjoying a flurry of coverage in the national press. Has Cary Cooper received another knighthood? Did someone devise a formula for the perfect twerk?

‘Students face probe over t-shirts daubed with swastikas.’


As reported by the BBC, Independent, Sun, Daily Mail, Newsbeat and Lancaster Guardian, Lancaster University Snow Sports (LUSS) was investigated by the Students’ Union (LUSU), after photographs emerged of their members partying at the Sugarhouse wearing T-shirts covered in swastikas, far-right slogans, and shock humour: ‘Gary Glitter was innocent’, ‘Free Tommy Robinson’, ‘Sandyhook woz bantz’, ‘I’ve got muscles cus dad raped me’, and various assorted ‘edginess’.

One member of LUSU’s Code of Conduct panel, Black & Minority Ethnic Officer Chloe Long, grew frustrated with the time it was taking for them to reach an agreement, as well as the growing probability that a ‘soft sanction’ would be imposed, and posted the photographs (which had been removed from the Sugarhouse’s Facebook page) online, denouncing them as hate speech and deriding LUSU for not taking a firmer stance against the activities.

Within 48 hours, Long was suspended from her role and is now the subject of an investigation by LUSU for breaching the Code of Conduct, endangering an investigation, and leaking confidential information.

Factions quickly formed as debates erupted on many of Lancaster’s online spaces. Dividing lines were drawn roughly between: 1) people who felt that LUSU and the University management didn’t care about hate speech, were utterly ineffectual in tackling it, and seemed more upset at the lack of publicity and more interested in punishing the officer responsible for going public; and 2) people who felt that this was all a publicity stunt, heaping unmanageable culpability on the shoulders of LUSU and making a mountain out of a molehill.

As expected, the Free Speech Bores – you know the ones, the people who want Nazis to have free speech so they can debate them, but never actually debate them – were quick to wade in by accusing LUSU of Orwellian tyranny for suspending the society and investigating the claims.

However, since this has nothing to do with free speech whatsoever, we can dismiss this as the customary anal wind from the usual tedious suspects, and delve into the actual questions, untruths, and scandal of this story…



The information about LUSU’s investigation into LUSS was made public because it was felt that the sanctions would be inadequate. Looking at LUSU’s past record on tackling hateful speech, it’s easy to understand why.

Throughout 2017/18, subtext documented the behaviour of an extremist right wing group on campus that was vying to attain official society status and affiliation to LUSU (see our year-end fascism roundup at http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/09/13/fascism-on-campus/ and subtext 182 http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/11/08/shredded-posters-make-good-snowflakes/). The group’s Facebook page regularly posts fascist philosophy, while its members openly express far right wing and oppressive beliefs in person and online, and have disrupted seminars and public events by rattling off half-baked fascist viewpoints and bad faith questions at tutors, speakers, and peers.

As the LUSU societies committee was struggling to agree whether or not to fund avowed fascists (!), the LUSU Executive of elected, paid full-time officers decided to speed things up by approving their incorporation, with a number of two-bit toothless caveats (see subtext 176 http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/04/26/sufferin-succofash/) thrown into the mix. Of course, this decision was quickly overturned by a senior member of LUSU staff, as behind the scenes the University was sharing information about the group with the police (who in turn sought guidance from the Counter Terrorism Branch and the CPS). Ultimately, LUSU rejected the group’s application, and while this was a good outcome, it took many months to come about, LUSU never ever publicly condemned their activities and rhetoric, and generally didn’t tell them to ‘f*ck off’ nearly as hard as they could have.

With that track record, and the recent Code of Conduct panel seemingly leaning towards quietly sending LUSS on its way with a clip round the ear, one can see the value in lighting a bomb under LUSU to wake them up a bit. LUSU’s slowness to act is still an issue – as they themselves admitted in a public statement, the panel had convened twice without coming to a decision on sanctions, and was due to meet a third time before BME officer Chloe Long decided to go public with the evidence.

By contrast, LUSU was far faster to action when dealing with Ms Long. The investigation into LUSS lasted ten days, with a gap of nearly two weeks between the end of the investigation and the meeting of the Code of Conduct panel. subtext understands that Ms Long received notice of her hearing date, 20 November, within a day of her suspension. Certainly, being seen to act more efficiently in an investigation of a whistleblower, than into the original issue, isn’t a good look. It appears that Ms Long declined to attend her hearing.

The sanctions themselves seem, at first glance, to be proportionate. The society will be placed ‘on probation’ for a period of two years, during which time they will also have to attend various equality training sessions, and submit notice of future socials. They will also not be permitted to run events that aren’t training based… for five weeks.

But on closer inspection these are almost as feeble as those proposed for the campus fascists. The club will have to apologise publicly, which is fair enough, although we’ve yet to hear it – we also wonder if the rumours are true that the group is receiving staff support to put together their statement. Interestingly, their next event, a trip to Val d’Isere on 14 December, inhabits something of a legal grey area. On the one hand, it promises ‘loose activities, shenanigans and mental nights out’, ‘ludicrous themes’, a ‘festival night’ and a ‘pool party with a bar and DJ’. We can’t imagine anything untoward happening there. On the other, it does also offer ‘beginner and intermediate lessons.’ What a quandary!

What’s interesting is that LUSU has, regardless of how appropriate (or not) the sanctions are, been harsher than it was initially planning to be after a public backlash, and this raises a question: was the investigation prejudiced by the court of public opinion? Who knows. The LUSS executive still should probably have been hung out to dry, as we’ll get to below.



While the SU could have shaken a leg and done a bit more to show that it doesn’t take hate speech lying down – especially in light of its performance last year – there is also no denying that blaming them for absolutely everything that took place on the t-shirt social is an easy get out. People have tried to hold the Sugarhouse staff accountable for allowing this sort of rhetoric into the venue in the first place. This is less than cast-iron for a number of reasons, the main one being that it’s still unclear whether the t-shirts were graffitied before or after they’d got in to the Sugarhouse. But even if they did queue up with those slogans written on them, it may not be reasonable to expect staff to closely inspect clothing which may have been covered at the time of entry and then was displayed in a busy nightclub.

It may also be difficult to establish the intent of the people wearing the shirts. The whole point of a white t-shirt social is to invite OTHERS to daub you with obscenities, and you can imagine that a drunk and bewildered fresher on their first social could use this to distance themselves from the slogans by claiming that they weren’t their views, that they were too drunk to know what was being written on them, and that they don’t remember who wrote what, ‘honest guv’. But there is likely to be overlap between those that wore the t-shirts and those that wrote on them. We can say for certain that SOME of the people at the event wrote these slogans, and all of them must have known they would be viewed by sober people as either racist or misogynist or condoning paedophilia. It’s unlikely that the identities of those writing them will ever be known.

There can be no sympathy for the LUSS executive, who, if they had the brains of a centipede, would have briefed their members against walking into a public place with antisemitic, racist, misogynist and paedophilic slogans smeared on their shirts, and made sure someone was on sober duty to keep things in check. It is the club’s executive that bears the most responsibility, which makes it all the more baffling that LUSU has allowed the existing executive to continue running the show.

This incident has at least provided an opportunity for LUSU and the Sugarhouse to develop a policy of checking what sort of materials people are bringing into their venue.



A great deal of the blame for this incident has been apportioned to the senior management. Lancaster UCU recently wrote publicly to the Vice-Chancellor, demanding to know why LUSU was investigating the incident (which was perpetrated by their members in their venue and photographed by their photographers), and not the University itself. As it turns out, the top table has been attentive to the case, and LUSU has now passed the case file over to the University Deanery to deal with. UCU remains unhappy, and accuses the University of shirking its responsibilities.

Behind the scenes, the University has quite rigorously pursued allegations of hate speech on campus, having referred the hijacking of Ruth Wodak’s public lecture to the police, who worked in collaboration with the CPS and the Counter Terrorism Branch to reach a conclusion. The Vice-Chancellor cannot be blamed for the decision not to proceed with this case, nor can he be expected to go on Twitter and name and shame his students (at least, not before the University Deanery has finished deliberating). That’s not to say that proactivity isn’t sorely lacking in the University’s internal and external communications – aside from a few assurances to the national press, they could do more to placate and assure the community when something like this happens, rather than waiting for the UCU to demand answers. If you’re a Jewish student on a night out and you see an antisemitic slogan written on someone’s shirt, you’re not going to stop and think ‘no biggie, Lancaster has a commitment to the Race Equality Charter!’ It also wouldn’t do us much harm to publicly emphasise our support of equality and opposition to fascism and extremism, what with our public image currently painting a slightly different picture. After all, however much the free speech bores emphasise that no-one present at the Sugarhouse that night complained about what the LUSS members were wearing, the reaction from (mostly) white (mostly) men to the online dissent from women and BAME students gives you an idea as to why.

While it is perhaps unlikely that this will end up being treated as a crime, one hopes that the University Deanery takes a broad-minded, moral approach to its deliberations with case, and considers not only the reputation of the University but the impact this has had on minority groups among its membership.



This is not a lone incident. Footage has surfaced of another (allegedly) recent social, where students in the shirts of a specific college were filmed in the Sugarhouse adorned with bulletins like (apologies to those who don’t like reading this stuff): ‘F*ck the Jews’, ‘I watch nugget porn’, ‘Saville (sic) is innocent’, ’96 wasn’t enough’ (yeah, try wearing that at The Sandon), and ‘Consent is overrated’.

Clearly we need to bring this to a stop. Prevention, education and the public, institutional denunciation of hateful ideologies are the best solutions. If nothing else, this sorry affair will surely encourage society executives to know how to avoid being publicly humiliated, and venue staff to know what to look out for when people show up with their clothes covered in ink. Until then we can only hope that people try to understand the isolating impact that such behaviour has on the targets of hate speech.


Speaking of unions, the students’ union is planning a restructure:


The October meeting of its trustee board agreed a reduction in the number of full-time officers from six to five, keeping the President but replacing the proliferation of five Vice-Presidents (activities, campaigns & communications, education, welfare & community, and union development) with four new posts: activities officer, education officer (undergraduate), postgraduate officer, and welfare officer. There will be a referendum in Week 8, and campaign teams for and against are being formed this week.

So, aside from the cosmetic name changes, we’re losing campaigns & communications, and union development, in favour of a full-time postgraduate officer. Not many are likely to oppose the loss of the union development post (formerly the General Secretary, aka ‘the President’s sidekick’), but the loss of a full-time political role in charge of LUSU media is more significant, and as for the proposal that undergraduates should be allowed to both stand and vote for the full-time postgraduate officer – well, good luck justifying that to the PG Board!

Student media at Lancaster is now de-politicised, barring a few exceptions on SCAN’s team, so the loss of a full-time media sabbatical might just reflect reality. The days when SCAN could openly oppose the union’s political strategy are long gone. The activities officer gets to be SCAN’s editor-in-chief, but only as a small part of their brief.

How, though, did the proposal get through to allow undergraduates to vote (and so have the decisive vote) on the postgraduate (who doesn’t have to be a postgraduate) officer? We’re told that, ‘as the officer would be a senior/full-time officer of the students’ union and a trustee, legally any student will be eligible to vote for them. It wouldn’t be restricted to postgraduates.’ What’s more, ‘any full member of the students’ union would be eligible to stand for this role – even if they’re not actually a postgraduate student themselves.’

Our legal correspondent describes this as ‘bollocks’. Exhibit A – UCL Union, which has a sabbatical Postgraduate Students’ Officer, open only to, and chosen only by, postgraduate students. Admittedly, we wouldn’t be the only students’ union to let undergraduates choose its postgraduate officer – Warwick seems to do it, and of course whenever Warwick does anything, Lancaster soon follows.


Former LUSU President, Laura Clayson, stands on trial at Chelmsford Crown Court with fourteen other defendants charged with ‘terrorism related charges’; ‘endangering an airport’. The group known as the Stansted 15 are facing potential life sentences after grounding a charter flight on which 57 people were being deported to Nigeria and Ghana. Many of those on board have since been granted leave to remain through legal challenges to their deportations.

Many of the activists are affiliated with the End Deportations Now movement, which aims to stop the inhumane practice of deporting people at a moment’s notice to potentially unfamiliar and unsafe places – places that, as recent press stories have highlighted, they may have never even seen as an adult. The deportees are often asylum seekers, many of whom have fled dangerous and hopeless situations and have built a life in the UK. Many people consider the deportation of these people a violation of human rights and a number of organisations, including Amnesty International, are calling for an end to the practice. Amnesty consider the Stanstead 15’s charges to be political in nature and are monitoring their case. (https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/stansted-15-amnesty-observe-trial-amid-concerns-anti-deportation-activists)

Although it may seem that the charges against the defendants are disproportionate and thus unlikely to hold, the recent case of the Frack Free Four, three of whom were sentenced to fifteen or sixteen months each in prison for non-violent direct action, sets a scary precedent for harsh and extreme sentencing of peaceful protesters. One hopes the case in question does not follow suit. In a democracy much shaped by positive social changes brought about by peaceful protest, these recent rulings are an unwelcome insight into the current attitude of the justice system. The ‘hostile environment’ which Theresa May initiated for people from outside the UK now extends to their defenders and peaceful protesters in general. To tar these protesters with the brush of terrorism and threaten them with life imprisonment is absurd and cruel. As one of Laura’s friends observed: ‘Can you think of anyone less akin to a terrorist? The lass vomits unicorns and rainbows.’

The Stansted 15’s trial started on Monday 1st October and is scheduled to last six weeks. You can find out more about the End Deportations Now movement, and keep up to date with the trial via http://enddeportations.com/. Please show your support by sending messages of solidarity to End Deportations Now, contacting your MP (e.g. was anyone from the Windrush generation on board?) and spreading the word about the #stansted15 on social media. Please send solidarity messages to the 15 at enddeportations@riseup.net.

Read about the Frack Free Four here: https://reclaimthepower.org.uk/news/support-the-frack-free-four/


Centralisation and the erosion of accountability somewhat paled into insignificance when we learned that a small but vocal group of students were attempting to set up a society for fascists. *Ahem*, sorry – ‘traditionalists.’ Their Facebook page is full of the usual witless moaning about ‘social justice warriors’, complaints about black people being in historical dramas, and quotes from avowed fascists.

In subtext 173, we reported that the group in question (which we have yet to name) attended a public lecture on the politics of fear, and banged on about saving a white Christian Europe and how all migrants are rapists. By the time issue 174 was released, we learned that the Students’ Union had rejected the fascists’ application… due to their failure ‘to convince the committee of the group’s sustainability or unique offer.’ Nothing to do with all the homophobia and fascism, then.

Still, we were at least pleased that the SU had rejected the fascists at all, until issue 176, where we reported that the LUSU Executive had ignored the deferral recommendation made by their societies committee, and took a decision to grant official recognition and resources to an actual group of fascists (with promises of sanctions and heavy caveats, such as, err, a risk assessment…). This decision lasted all of no time at all before a sensible LUSU staff member intervened and postponed the application indefinitely.

Perhaps the spate of Nazi graffiti on office doors, which we reported in subtext 166 and 167, was a forewarning?

The matter is now in the hands of the university. The last thing we reported was a protest against an event put on by the group, at which an individual praised the SS and admitted to being scared for his white skin. Meanwhile, one of his ‘bodyguards’ mocked a protestor’s accent and almost elbowed a pensioner in the face. The individual in question pledged to upload a report and footage disputing subtext’s report. Two months ago.

This unsettling rise in on-campus fascism has made it into seminar rooms and public lectures. Thanks to subtext, you can read all about it below:





It all started so well for the Students’ Union. In subtext 169 we reported on their campaign against an unnecessary rent increase of up to £249. To make their displeasure known, LUSU set up a stall and put £249 worth of pasta on display. A little gimmicky, we thought, but enough to get the usual ‘our costs are going up and we have the best halls ever anyway’ line trotted out by the university. And so, we sat back, and then… nothing. There was no further campaigning action, no publicity releases about negotiations, and no attempt to actually mobilise students into a General Meeting, or a protest, or anything.

And then the SU was complicit in the abolition of University Court (detailed above under UNIVERSITY COURT), the decision making body with the largest student delegation, the only one to which any student representative could propose motions and policy, and at which students had fought and won against the university.

But the University Court was due to be abolished anyway, and perhaps it wasn’t the best hill for the SU to die on if it wanted to pick more important fights. As the industrial action took hold of the entire higher education sector, and the student body increasingly swayed towards the side of the staff, subtext eagerly awaited the SU’s statement of intent, and its plan of action, before issue 173 went to print. The plan, it transpired, was to ’empower [student] opinion with impartial information.’ Yes. After making clear that it wasn’t best pleased that the action was going ahead, the SU decided that it wasn’t even going to OPPOSE it. Instead, it put out some tepid ‘on the one hand this and on the other hand that’ infographics. Thankfully, hundreds of students spontaneously organised, many of whom were heard shrieking with derision at any mention of the SU, joined by striking UCU members.

Even JCR officers weren’t safe. A series of posters denouncing the Vice-Chancellor’s salary and lack of funding for the counselling service quickly disappeared from campus, and LUSU’s higher-ups were reported to have advised the JCR officers responsible to take a different tack, apparently pledging to help ‘broaden’ the campaign and attract wider attention. As we predicted in subtext 177, such a campaign never came to fruition – LUSU simply quashed the activism.

LUSU might have made better decisions, be it on Grad Ball (which this year was cancelled for the first time since the 1970s), opposing strike action, or allowing fascism on campus to be funded, if it were more accountable to students, and hadn’t gutted almost all of its accountability structures in 2015 (as we recalled in issue 174). Could LUSU’s ‘scrutiny panel’ have curbed this behaviour? No. In subtext 174, we noted that the ‘scrutiny panel’ hadn’t met at any point during the nine months that the sitting sabbatical team had held office, and was denounced by a former appointee for producing toothless reports that ‘nobody reads.’ Perhaps a General Meeting of the student body could have passed policy? Not a chance – LUSU’s General Meeting failed to reach quoracy, because they failed to seize the enthusiasm around the rent increase in the first term, or the industrial action in the second term to drive attendance. In lieu of a quorate General Meeting, LUSU instead held an ‘online general meeting’, which is completely unconstitutional and has zero powers to authorise LUSU to do anything.

There must have been SOMETHING keeping LUSU’s political wing busy, because one now-former officer appeared on Bailrigg FM back in May boasting to a Labour Party representative that by-election turnout was healthy because LUSU had bothered to do a bit of promotional work, even though it ‘isn’t their job’ (it is).

subtext keeps a close eye on all of the university’s most influential wings, and the SU is one of them. You can read all of our reporting on the SU’s activities throughout 2017-18, which is far more detailed than our VERY brief recap, below.


http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/02/01/court-the-final/ |
















That was then. This is now. subtext is pleased to report that the new team of LUSU full-time officers seem to have got off to a blistering start, by calling a student demonstration against the proposed introduction of 6pm to 7pm lectures, during this Saturday’s Undergraduate Open Day. The details:


Don’t miss your Week 1 subtext for our full report on the ‘extended teaching day’ proposals, including why you shouldn’t dramatically increase your undergraduate numbers without also dramatically increasing your lecture theatres, and why this problem isn’t going to go away any time soon.


In issue 175, we reported that a University Council approved policy to allow postgraduate students to remain with their undergraduate colleges had not been implemented… three years after it was passed. Perhaps another gentle reminder is in order at some point in subtext’s next run.


subtext 180 – ‘better sorry than safe’

Fortnightly during term time.

Letters, contributions, & comments: subtext-editors@lancaster.ac.uk

Back issues & subscription details: http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/about/

In this issue: editorial, welcome week, deanshare, lab location, UA92 galore, FASS typos, house-building, union blues, shart, poem, TV review, letters



Gaps, holes, deficits, cuts, absences. Call them what you will, it would be hard to deny that the academic year has been littered with them, providing the subtext drones with more than enough metaphorical material to stretch to breaking point and enough space to fly the traditional end of year round-up through on a bus.

The biggest gap generator has been the ongoing building work on campus, particularly on the Spine. There have been holes in the ground where the Spine has been dug up, communication gaps where the pink and purple diversion signs have failed to keep up with the actual situation ‘on the ground’, and most worryingly there has been a huge gap in provision for disabled users of the spine, with accessible routes around the pinball game that traversing campus has become having all but disappeared. Add to this the gaps of buildings that failed to appear (squints at the Management School) and the gap we didn’t know we had (cocks an eyebrow at Alexandra Square’s Big Screen), and it’s a wonder we didn’t all get a collective sprained ankle.

There have been financial gaps as well. Students who may have specific learning disabilities have seen a cut of 50% in the funding available from the University to be assessed for them – a massive blow to the life chances of those that need one but can’t afford it. Nationally, the most disruptive gap of the year was the deficit in the UCU pension fund – and understanding thereof – that saw an unprecedented turnout in support of strike action, and UCU members picketing for two weeks in freezing conditions. Whilst the picket lines saw a huge amount of support from students and non-striking staff there was another gap: no clear or coherent response from the VC. The University as a whole continued to fail to cover itself in glory when the Gender Pay Gap report was published in April, revealing LU to be third from the bottom in the country (University of the Year, though!) with a mean pay gap of 27.7% as opposed to the national average of… cough… 17.8%.

There have been notable gaps in democracy, honesty and decency. Maybe it started when Lancaster University Students’ Union refused to take a stance in regard to supporting the UCU strike, and it definitely didn’t end with their ‘creative’ approach to the online AGM ballot. Maybe it started when the University Court was abolished, removing one of the last democratically elected bodies in the institution (and one that oversaw the appointment of various posts). In fact, subtext notes – with some glee – that you can read all about the machinations of Lancaster University’s ‘Strategic Planning & Governance’ division at gap.lancs.ac.uk. Maybe it started when the VC led us to believe that Lancaster was the first port of call for UA92 (it wasn’t) and shrouded the entire business in a cloak of secrecy. Maybe it started with swastikas on Sociology department doors appearing overnight followed by the attempted setting up of a new student society concerned with white supremacy and other alt-right (i.e. fascist) ideas. This is a gap that is going to take more than a bit of polyfilla and a trowel to sort out.

And we’ve been feeling a bit gappy ourselves – retirement and illness have left us short of an editor or two in the subtext warehouse, so we welcome all those readers with a critical eye, a writerly bent and a typing speed of 80wpm to drop us a line at subtext-editors@lancaster.ac.uk to get involved. And so, once more unto the breach, dear readers – starting October. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks for writing in – do keep doing that. Failing that, hit us with your ‘like’ stick on our Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/lusubtext


In subtext 178, we helpfully noted that LUSU’s online general meeting was not only completely unconstitutional, but also easy to game, as it was possible for students to vote as many times as they wished. Since our report, we note that LUSU has sent out a ‘special newsletter’ to promote participation, which also clarifies that in the event of multiple votes from a user, only the first vote will be counted.

We are, however, disappointed to note that LUSU is continuing to promote voting in this unconstitutional and illegitimate general meeting, held to approve or disapprove their affiliations for the next academic year. We reiterate that LUSU’s constitution and bye-laws do not allow for General Meetings to be conducted in this way. Eager to help, we have decided to place this piece at the top of our running order, so that LUSU cannot possibly miss it.


Lancaster’s fascist would-be student society, whose behaviour at a public talk on the politics of fear (subtext 173) and rejection by LUSU as an official society (subtext 176) is well documented, are at it again. This time, they’ve publicly promoted an event, ‘What is the Value of Capitalism?’ It might sound like your bog standard management school student style debate, but any debate seeking to discuss whether capitalism leads to the ‘destruction of natural hierarchies and identities’ is bound to raise eyebrows.

Local activists didn’t disappoint. subtext understands that the group in question (who we continue to refuse to name) attempted to book a table for ten at a Lancaster venue on Tuesday 5th June. Upon being made aware of the sort of company they were about to keep, the venue in question immediately cancelled the event. The advice from the local police to venues who might unwittingly be hosting far-right functions is to cancel any such event, the worry being that the opposition from decent people would lead to a public order offence. Failure to comply could lead to the revocation of licenses. Thankfully for the far-right student group, they had booked multiple venues, and had publicly urged supporters to meet a delegate at Common Garden Street in order to be directed to the correct location.

According to numerous eyewitness accounts, one member of the group in question, who is known to have joined Generation Identity protests, was present on Common Garden Street to welcome attendees. No attendees showed up, but the member in question was flanked by three individuals, who were acting as his ‘private security.’ He was also joined and, indeed, outnumbered by, a number of individuals from various local anti-fascist groups. A vociferous conversation ensued, in which our fascist declared that the ‘SS instilled a sense of national pride’, adding that he didn’t believe in ‘pride’ as a concept. He claimed that he didn’t personally know other members of the group who had behaved in the ways described in subtext’s reports (even though he has publicly shared photographs of himself with them). Indeed, he even suggested that a splinter-group might be in the works, due to differences in ideology. After affirming that he was ‘scared for [his] white skin’, he complained that he had once been assaulted for being white, failing to add ‘supremacist’ and ‘by antifa’ to various junctures in his sentence.

The behaviour of our fascist’s security detail is also worthy of note. One of the trio was unhappy with the idea of being filmed or photographed in any way, and the anti-fascist protesters duly obliged and put away their phones. She then proceeded to unsheathe her own phone and record the vast majority of the altercation. Another ‘guard’, who was variously described as ‘a whirling dervish’, ‘tired and emotional’, and ‘clearly on something’, made many memorable interjections – including to declare himself a national socialist. In general, it was felt that he frequently invaded the personal space of those in attendance, at one point nearly elbowing a pensioner in the face. He was difficult to pin down verbally – in some instances he was admitting to his ‘boss’ that the protesters ‘had a point’, in others, he openly mocked a protestor’s Polish accent. All throughout, he was reportedly laughing like a hyena. Our fascist’s entourage are said to have distanced themselves from his views, insisting that they were simply his mates with his personal safety at heart. Stockholm syndrome?

Our fascist has announced that a ‘report’ and ‘video footage’ are forthcoming. It’ll take an awful lot of editing to present him in a positive light, but we await it with bated breath all the same.


The last time subtext covered a city council by-election in University & Scotforth Rural ward (December 2016 – see subtext 156), the turnout fell to an all-time low for a public election this century. The last time campus residents went to the polls in a public election (June 2017 – see subtext 165), a series of ‘errors’ led to political posters being ripped down by campus authorities. So, what embarrassments to the democratic process would subtext witness at this month’s city council by-election on campus, won by Amara Betts-Patel and Oliver Robinson of the Labour Party?

To our pleasant surprise, it all went rather well. Poor voter registration? Almost all campus residents were on the electoral roll. Poor voter turnout? At 27%, with 1033 people voting, this was impressive for a by-election in a student area. Evidence of total apathy? They were queueing outside the Chaplaincy Centre to vote. Evidence of lies, backstabbing and intrigue? The candidates (if not quite everyone on their campaign teams) were getting on famously, with campaign stalls lined up next to each other in Alexandra Square. And there was a statue of Poseidon made of litter.

There were some brief shenanigans on polling day, when (it is alleged) some Conservative activists stole the giant Labour banner in Edward Roberts Court, but this was defused by a quick call to the police. The banner was back up soon afterwards. The Tories retired sheepishly to the bar.

The only other instance of disharmony came the day after polling day. During a shouty edition of Bailrigg FM’s ‘You Ask the SU’, LUSU Vice-President (Union Development) Qas Younis and Labour’s election agent Lucy Atkinson had a prolonged, testy exchange over who was responsible for the increased voter turnout. Mr Younis suggested that the increased turnout was largely due to ‘the work put in by the students’ union’, even though ‘it’s not our job to promote YOUR elections’ (it definitely is). Listen to the long, awkward altercation at https://www.mixcloud.com/BailriggFM/question-time-grad-ball-founders-you-ask-the-su/

More of this sort of election, please.


In subtext 176, we reported on the Students’ Union’s Annual General Meeting, which was held at the end of Lent term and aborted due to inquoracy. Keen to be of assistance, we pointed out that, as per their bye-law, LUSU was required to hold another AGM within a week.

They’re a few weeks late, but LUSU have finally got round to holding another AGM. But with a twist…

… This year’s ‘Annual General Meeting’ is being held online as we write. Students are to click on a link, which as far as we know was not emailed to them (and isn’t visible on LUSU’s Facebook or website, um…), taking them to a video of the LUSU Full Time Officers talking about what they’ve done, and why students should vote to approve their affiliations for that year.

We know this because one of subtext’s student pals sent us the link. When we clicked on it, we got an error message, and a ‘try again’ button. We clicked the button, and got a new message, this time ‘thanking’ us for ‘voting’. Our pal was aghast – through some technical error, subtext had cost them their ability to vote!

Thankfully, by entering the link into an incognito window on Google Chrome, they were able to vote again…

… And again. And again. And again.

Yes, anybody wishing to vote on the affiliations of a multi-million pound organisation can, apparently, do so as many times as they please. A creative masterstroke to boost voter turnout figures? Probably not.



It should go without saying that an online survey that can be voted on an infinite number of times is not a ‘meeting.’ But, this is where we are, so: an online survey that can be voted on an infinite number of times is not a ‘meeting.’

We touched on this in subtext 146, when the Students’ Union tried to say that proxy votes would count towards an AGM’s quoracy. We envisaged scenes of a chairperson, sat alone with a minute taker, emptying a basket of ‘proxy votes’ onto a table and declaring the meeting ‘quorate.’ The issue with proxy votes is that voters do not get to listen to debates from the floor and possibly have their minds changed, nor can they propose or vote on amendments that come from the floor. But at least it was only absentees casting ill-informed votes – with this new online AGM, EVERY vote cast is going to be ignorant, there is no opportunity for LUSU members to hear debates, no means of proposing and voting on amendments to motions, and no means of a flowing dialogue with union officers. Still, it does solve LUSU’s issues with inquoracy – all they need is for one person to vote 150 times on their online form. That’s if it were a legitimate meeting.

LUSU’s claim that proxy votes counted towards quoracy was abandoned shortly after we pointed out that this was unconstitutional, although a rule change approved in early 2018 means that it now is in fact constitutional. Fantastic. Will they abandon this ‘online AGM’, which is currently being used as the legal means by which they are seeking to approve their affiliations, when we point out that an ‘online AGM’ is totally unconstitutional, has zero precedence, and is not in any way accounted for or permitted by LUSU’s bye-laws?



Why is LUSU finding it so difficult to get their general meetings quorate? We know exactly the given reason why – they are ‘outmoded’ (a word that is not, despite its usage, interchangeable with ‘old’). But Students’ Union General Meetings being inquorate are not new things, and the ‘students just don’t want to show up’ is an age old excuse for lazy promotion and lack of drive. There have been many bustling and quorate AGMs in between the failures. There was the one in 2012 opposing the centralisation / redundancies of admin staff, the one in 2013 opposing the closure of the music degree, and the one in 2015 opposing cuts to fees and rents. What they all had in common was an impassioned union officer team which ran effective campaigns that educated and galvanised students to attend, and an exciting headline act that made students feel like their voices were necessary to affect change.

Putting drab discussions about space, constitutions, and affiliations at the top of the bill ain’t gonna pull the punters, and that is why no-one cares. It really is that simple.

subtext welcomes letters from readers with their own memories of quorate union general meetings, few and far between though they may be.



In subtext 176, we reported that the Students’ Union had come under fire from students for what was perceived as a lacklustre Graduation Ball lineup and venue. With the event looking increasingly like a loss-making exercise, LUSU has now cancelled the event.

This is unprecedented. Grad Ball has been in existence since the 1970s, predating college extravs, so why has it died a sudden, grizzly death?

Until a few years ago, the University subsidised some of Grad Ball’s costs, and this allowed the SU to keep ticket prices down without compromising the quality of the acts and venue. The SU block grant has also been reduced recently. The University is more than happy to pump seventy grand into extra coaching for an away-Roses, when a fraction of that could be gifted to LUSU to get a popular act. Why should the university have to fund the school disco? Because a good Grad Ball = good publicity for Lancaster. Shallow, ‘ooh look at the big acts we can get’ publicity, but publicity nonetheless (it’s also the right thing to do, of course). Alas, this disaster is likely to translate into bad publicity for Lancaster. A Top Ten University that doesn’t even have an end of year ball? Outrageous!

When it comes to Grad Ball, the SU is in an invidious position – it has to strike a balance between finding an act that is JUST famous enough with providing a reasonable ticket price (not that Lancaster’s Grad Ball ticket prices are that out of tune with our ‘comparator’ universities). Also, it is easy for students to vote in some online poll demanding, oh we don’t know, P.J. Proby (Is he the In Thing? – Ed.), or for a candidate for a LUSU officer post to promise P.J. Proby, but anyone experienced in Ents booking knows that nothing is that simple. When it transpires that P.J. Proby is busy doing his hair on the day of Grad Ball, the disappointing lineup is invariably blamed on ‘LUSU laziness.’ Accountability is also a major issue. Since LUSU completely rejected transparency to the strongest degree possible, they have severely lacked a ‘sounding board’ to work out what students want from their school disco.

In 2015, the SU drastically inflated the membership price of BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) teams, in most cases by over TEN TIMES the previous price, to make up for a 22% drain on expenditure (subtext 137).

In 2017, the SU underwent a drastic restructure, making some staff members redundant, and re-deploying others to roles within University House, which took over responsibility for LUSU’s enterprise, volunteering, and international opportunities, as well as its IT provision (subtext 156). Not long before then, the SU was forced to close down one of its on-campus shops.

That LUSU has made these drastic financial cuts, yet STILL cannot afford to absorb some of the costs associated with Grad Ball, is a major issue, and causes the subtext collective considerable concern for LUSU’s future.



The cancellation of Grad Ball caught the attention of candidates in the recent local by-elections, some of whom offered to step in and sort it all out.

Conservative candidates Callum Furner and Guy Watts took to social media pledging, if elected, ‘to work with the Students Union […] to truly send off the Class of 2018 in magical style.’ When asked how, there came the somewhat broad response of ‘anything that’s needed’. Alas, these promises did little to aide the success of the Tories, who were roundly defeated.

Labour candidates Amara Betts-Patel and Oliver Robinson took a more placatory approach, expressing their desire for a ‘better relationship’ with the Students’ Union – a noble olive branch. Meanwhile, one of our sitting Labour councillors took to the ‘Overheard at Lancaster’ Facebook page to mock the ‘low effort SU’. So much for the better relationship.

What influence the city council actually has over the SU’s ents function is anyone’s guess.


In what has been yet another docile year from the Students’ Union, our interest was piqued by a number of posters on campus which read:




It was a classic bit of union tubthumping, questioning why a university awash with cash to spend on giant screens and fountains, on ‘renegotiated’ contractor fees, and a football university, can’t invest in services for the students who provide more than half of its funding.

We understand that members of County JCR distributed the posters after a frustrating meeting with a senior university figure who disagreed that the current counselling waiting times are unacceptable.

The top table has not heeded the warning of Universities Minister Sam Gyimah, who has pledged to establish regulations protecting free speech on campuses. Some 60-70 of these posters were swiftly removed by officialdom without explanation. Then we remembered that ‘free speech’ is only for people who want to verbally abuse foreigners and transsexuals.

subtext also understands that the Students’ Union swiftly intervened, allegedly advising the campaigners that the issue is not exclusive to the County College and is therefore an unjustifiable use of resources. This is complete horse puckey, of course, but the campaigners are confident that LUSU intervened purely to improve the campaign, widen its appeal, and attract wider attention.

Presumably, then, we can expect the SU to mount a broad, cross-campus campaign against extravagant spending by the university at the expense of student services in the near future? We’ll look forward to that. Probably for quite some time.


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.


The Students’ Union came under fire (http://scan.lusu.co.uk/index.php/2018/04/24/a-glorified-school-disco-plans-to-move-grad-ball-to-the-great-hall-fall-flat-among-students/) after it announced the line-up and venue for this year’s Grad Ball. Students are deeply unhappy that the event is moving from Blackpool Tower to the Great Hall (where the majority of Grad Balls were held until 2012), and with the perceived ‘cheap’ quality of the acts on offer for £55. It has been slammed as a ‘glorified school disco’ as though it were an insult, rather than exactly what Grad Ball has always been.

We are reminded of the last time (http://scan.lusu.co.uk/index.php/2015/04/30/students-priced-out-of-grad-ball/) the student body erupted in fury over the SU’s plans for Grad Ball. In 2015, students were deeply unhappy with the ticket prices (£59), and sent numerous abusive messages to officers and staff complaining that LUSU didn’t keep costs down by… booking cheaper acts and moving the event to the Great Hall!

What do they want? Jam on it?



It’s not just the backlash to this year’s Grad Ball that reminds us of the uproar in 2015. Much like in 2015, a small number of enterprising students have decided to put on an alternative event, ‘by the people, and for the people.’

The effort three years ago quickly fell apart like a clown’s car when nobody knew who was arranging it, announcements and venues were promised and passed us by, and none of the ‘organisers’ could explain how it was going to be funded. The students quickly lost faith in the project when they began to suspect that the organisers were just a bunch of slipshod hucksters after their money. The valiant heart of the rebel uprising sunk shortly thereafter.

This year’s effort is a slightly more sophisticated one. The organisers are known (and popular on campus), they have a venue (Viva Blackpool, ‘one of the most prestigious event venues in the North.’ Apparently.), and the organisers have connections to ‘TABUKI’, a ‘well-established house music brand based in Lancaster.’

What they don’t have, however, is any guarantee that the event will go ahead. It’s a ‘speculate to accumulate’ affair, and if there aren’t enough tickets sold to cover the costs of the venue and the acts, it’s refunds all round and no harm done. But if it does work out, it’d rely on students getting tickets without knowing what they’re going to get. If enough people duly fork out for their early bird ticket, how many are going to demand a refund when they find out that they’ve paid for a front row seat to see P.J. Proby, the KPM All-Stars, and a Pat Boone tribute artist? [What’s wrong with that? Sounds like a cracking night – Ed.]

The subtext collective is mildly cynical, but we hope that both this and the official Grad Ball are a success.


subtext was unable to report on the LUSU General Meeting last month, so here’s SCAN’s report: http://scan.lusu.co.uk/index.php/2018/03/15/union-on-the-defensive-in-ill-tempered-agm/

What was of interest to subtext was the excuses reeled off by the officer team for the poor attendance. Students were blamed for not tabling exciting agenda items and instead expecting their elected officers to show leadership and promote a talking point. A discussion about space on campus isn’t exactly going to be a huge draw, and the subtext collective does wonder why LUSU doesn’t learn the lesson from its very recent history that it isn’t actually all that difficult to achieve a quorate general meeting.

Due to the low attendance, no business could be voted on by those in attendance. The general meetings bye-law states that, in the event of inquoracy, ‘the meeting shall stand adjourned to [sic] the same day in the next week [sic] at the same time and place or to such other day [sic] as the Trustees may determine.’

At the time of writing, the meeting has not reconvened.



Amidst all the ‘disruption of the student experience’ caused by the strike, the LUSU sabbatical elections rolled around last week, and six new people have been elected to replace the outgoing officers. The results were as follows:

  • President: Rhiannon Llystyn Jones
  • Vice-President (Union Development): Matty Robinson
  • Vice-President (Activities): Toby Wilkinson
  • Vice-President (Welfare & Community): Emily Delaney
  • Vice-President (Education): Ian Meeks
  • Vice-President (Campaigns & Communications): Islay Grant

We note that Rhiannon Jones is the first woman to serve two terms as LUSU President, and the first person to serve two non-consecutive terms in any sabbatical LUSU post for nearly 40 years. She comfortably defeated sitting President Josh Woolf.

Many of the contests offered a standout candidate who had done their homework, were deeply experienced, and had a lot to offer.

The contest for the role of Vice-President (Union Development) was not one of them. The ‘ding-dong’ between the three candidates at hustings was so devoid of content that SCAN’s live-bloggers saw no point in fact-checking their answers because ‘they said nothing of substance’.

The contest for the role of Vice-President (Campaigns & Communications) had a standout candidate. That the student body instead opted to elect a candidate who ran on a whim; has no campaigns experience; believes experience isn’t important; wants to give student media ‘directions on what needs to change’ (we’re sure SCAN editors will be only too pleased to take direction from someone who doesn’t read it); and demonstrated zero enthusiasm or knowledge of any major on-campus issues, was therefore baffling.

The Vice-President (Education) race, in the midst of intense industrial action with staff working conditions at the forefront of everyone’s mind, was won by a candidate who thinks that a four day turnaround on feedback can work in all departments because it does in Physics.

Oh dear. Resentment is growing among students – the strike action, the current political discourse, the on-campus refurbishments, the lack of transparency from their union, the rises in rents and fees, and the cuts to services are just some of the causes. LUSU’s utter failure to weaponise this is bizarre. It’s raining soup, and LUSU is out in the yard with a fork. The golden goose is heavily pregnant, and they’re plucking it ready for Christmas dinner.

Readers might have thought that the atmosphere on campus would have lead to more candidates standing on an invigorating platform, and a couple of them maybe even winning. The students deserve better than the hollow, tepid, no-effort cacophony of ‘listening to students’ and ‘having an open-door policy’ and ‘bringing people together’ that it got.

So why they voted for it is anyone’s guess. We invite the candidates-elect to prove us wrong.



Contributed by Craig Jones

This year’s LUSU FTO hustings saw a handful of candidates that (in my opinion) promised to truly change the Union and may well have seen it become a political entity once more, rather than nothing more than a front desk for management. However, the results have now been announced and only one of these four promising candidates has made it through.

Hustings were held in Barker House Farm on an evening of bar sports, resulting in the husting speeches being drowned out at times by cheers and shouting from the teams.

For the position of VP Union Development, candidates were asked what they understood the word ‘union’ to mean, to which none of them responded particularly well. A personal favourite was the answer that opened with ‘The student union is a collection of students…’. Something new every day!

The candidates for president were asked what their opinion on the UCU strikes and why they held these opinions. All candidates said they supported the strikes and when asked if they would come and show support at the picket line, all said they would ‘try and make it down’. Only two presidential candidates visited the picket line at all – one simply to hust to the students in attendance, and the other (Rhiannon Jones) to show support to the staff.

With the results in, it doesn’t look like the SU will see any massive changes any time soon… or maybe I’m too pessimistic…