Students at the University of Lincoln are becoming increasingly active in politics on both single-issues and large scale campaigns, despite increasing disillusionment with the main parties.
One might think that the Students’ Union would be the go-to group for politically-minded students, but they’ve remained very quiet. Legislation prevents them from getting directly involved in party politics, but they certainly have a part to play in student-related affairs, such as tuition fees and employment.
On November 11th two of the SU’s full-time officers did go down to London to lobby MPs over tuition fees, but since then, they appear to have gone back into hibernation.
Instead, students have opted to use societies as a vehicle for their causes and campaigns, but some students have found forming official societies that carry a political agenda very difficult.
Dave Stanley, the president of the unofficial Labour Students Society (LSS), is angry at the treatment of politically-natured societies, saying that the SU favours the forming of certain societies, particularly sports, over others.
“It’s difficult to set up a politically-orientated society as [the SU] don’t want to be seen as condoning any particular political belief.” Stanley also said that both Labour and Conservative student societies had been denied official status in the past.
Stanley also feels the SU are infringing on the students’ freedom to choose which groups they can and can’t join: “Students should be allowed to form societies as a way to meet like-minded people, it’s their choice.”
He suggests that the SU are guilty of telling societies what they are allowed to do with their membership money, saying: “We aren’t even allowed to use our own membership money to pay for membership to the Labour party.”
This is another reason why the LSS have refrained from applying to be an officially-recognised society again.
Despite the SU’s unsupportive stance towards politically-active societies, some are thriving, thanks to being outside the official system.
The liveliest example currently is the unofficial Socialist Students Society (SSS), a left-wing group that caters for all left-leaning students.
Matt Morrison, a SSS member, says he’s active because he wants to work towards achieving a goal, and believes it’s important for all people, regardless of background, to get involved.
He spoke favourably of the single-issue campaigns currently being run by the societies: “They allow people with different political views to unite in favour of a common goal.”
The official Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) society, who are well supported by the SU according to member Jamie Hogue, have also been making themselves heard.
In early November they held a stall and petitioned students to stand against the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.
While the SU have been trying to distance themselves from all things of a political nature, it would appear they have also been separating themselves from politically active students, restricting their ability to form as societies while promoting campaigns of National Union of Students-endorsed societies.Tweet