Struggle for ULU legacy

Representatives from London’s students’ unions are at odds with the National Union of Students (NUS) over what should replace the University of London Union (ULU).

Following a University of London Council vote to shut ULU in May, sabbatical officers from unions in London met in July and founded the London Union of Students (LUS). It elected an eleven-member executive committee, with two of those members from unions outside the University of London.

The intention of the LUS’s founders is that, in the likely absence of ULU, it will be a union in the full-blooded sense, with democratically elected full-time officers.

ULU’s press release announcing the new union also said: “It is possible that LUS could lay claim as successor to ULU’s headquarters on Malet Street”.

The NUS held a rival meeting this month, proposing NUS London – an organisation that would be “democratic in nature” but lack full-time officers.

The proposal, made at a meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC), also made no mention of ULU’s headquarters.

A London union source described the NUS’s proposal as “watered down”, suggesting the NUS was reluctant to support a full union because it would be dominated by the left.

Michael Chessum, president of ULU and a member of the LUS’s executive committee, pointed out areas where he disagreed with the NUS plan.

He said: “The relationship between the new pan-London structure and ULU and its building is not yet formally established… There is also not yet a consensus on exactly what kind of presence full-time elected officers should have in the new structure”.

The proposed NUS London body claims to be “politically autonomous” and will act as “a legitimate voice” for London’s students. There will be an attempt to merge the two proposals when the NEC votes on an amendment tomorrow.

Adrian Polglase & James Burley, London Student: Issue 1 (16/09/2013)