Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

Part of the Union

by Lloyd on 18.07.07
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Well I’ve just started the job at the University of Bradford Union I’m the new Internal Affairs officer for the union. For this job I have to do the democracy of the union. Starting at the union has been interesting. While other sabbatical starting are learning the ropes find this prolonged hand over useful. However I do find it slightly suffocating. I was keen to get on with the job. However over these last few weeks I have come to like time with other sabbaticals, learning different ways of doing things and setting our objectives.

I want to make sure that the union is reformed next year however the plans that have been laid by the previous team isn’t quite what i want. Surprisingly my problem is that it seems very much old union, old left kind of stuff. I’m convinced that we need to look forward to see what the union does and how we work. In some of the plans an LGBT forum will be set up to represent LGBT students, as will the women’s forum and all have seats on the Council. I have two problems with this kind of democratic set up.

1. that it puts focus on particular groups that ‘need’ representation but fails to actually deal with the problems of lack of representation. For example, LGBT(Lesbian Gay, Bi and Trans) students and Women are very well represented in the Union (in fact they are almost over represented) however we can’t just do the equation and fill a quota. There are still LGBT students that will remain unrepresented, to just create a seat on council will not reach out. What will is making sure that everyone can participate, that not just the ‘political’ class take part and that we don’t mistake democracy for elections or representation.

2. having representative seats for sections of the liberation campaigns will undermine the part time offers role. The role which should be to coordinate liberation campaigns and welfare, part time offers should be about working for all students in the areas of their role. However it is not representation, when representation of liberation campaigns to be a key of council people like at other universities will start to call for the part time offers to be abolished.

We need to think of alternative ways of engaging with students, we need to use electronic media, hold drop in sessions, and allow all students to engage in ways that they want. If they want the union to work for them they it should do, students should decided how the union spends it money, decides its campaigns but they shouldn’t have to have quotas on council as al students should be involved.

I will start a consultation to see what happens with the constitutional reform but I will make the case against quotas without reform every time.

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Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

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