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October 2013

News In Brief – 28th October Issue

By London Student, News In Brief

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Firefighters March Against Cuts

Firefights demonstrated in London this month against fire service cuts and changed in pension arrangements.

A march on 16 October, arranged by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), started on Malet Street, near the University of London Union, and made its way through the city to Westminster Central Hall.

Some in the crowd, who braved wet weather conditions, brandished signs saying “hands off our pensions”. Other wore T-shirts with the caption “elderly firefighters at work”, in a parody of the elderly crossing the road sign.

The protesters oppose government plans to cut funding to fire services and change pension arrangements so that firefighter will have to work until they are 60, rather than the current age of 55.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, told demonstrators that the coalition was putting the country at risk by slashing funding and “forcing firefighters to work beyond the age at which they can physically do the job”.

Police tried to stop anti-facist club night, organisers say

The Metropolitan Police have been accused of attempting to cancel an anti-facist event held at the University of London Union on 12 October.

The organisers of the night told the Leopard newspaper that police tried to “pressure” acts not to attend and rang the venue to warn “unsavoury characters” would attend. They suggested that police faction might have been triggered by the offer of free entry to attendants with a bail-sheet from the anti-facist demonstration in Whitechapel last month.

Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 3 (28/10/2013)

University's survey on future of ULU criticised

By London Student, University of London News
University of London Union Building on Malet Street

University of London Union Building on Malet Street

A University of London survey released this month asking for opinions on what should replace its students union, which is set to close next year, has been condemned by the students’ union itself.

The questionnaire is meant to find out from students which services they currently use at the University of London Union (ULU) building and which they could do without. The university has voiced an intention to turn the premises into a ‘student centre’ from 2014, apparently removing its elected officers but keeping some services.

There is no option on the survey students can select if they want to see the building continuing to be run by elected officers.

Moreover, anyone can fill in the online survey, launched on 12 October, since no university password is required. By using a different browser, a person can participate in it multiple times.

Michael Chessum, ULU president, said that the survey placed students “in the absurd position” of filling out a survey “in which they can say anything except what the vast majority of them must be thinking: that we want democratic control of the building”.

At last Thursday’s meeting of the ULU senate, the student unions of Birkbeck, Goldsmiths and the School of Oriental and African Studies said they would “definitely not” be sending the survey to their members.

Chessum said ULU will run a referendum to rival the university’s survey next month.

At time of going to print, the university was unavailable to comment.

Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 3 (28/10/2013)

Pro-choice Goldsmiths students challenge anti-abortionism

By London Student, University of London News
Goldsmiths, University of London's Richard Hoggart Building

Goldsmiths, University of London’s Richard Hoggart Building

Goldsmiths students launched a counter-demonstration at the end of September against anti-abortion campaigners who demonstrated next to the college’s campus in New Cross.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) handed out antiabortion flyers with slogans such as “abortion is about a child not a choice” on 25th September on Dixon Road, between the Richard Hoggart building and the library.

Members of Goldsmiths Students’ Union (GSU) responded by creating makeshift pro-choice placards and following the antiabortion group down New Cross Road.

They also handed out Abortion Rights leaflets and made clear to passers-by that the SPUC campaigners were not affiliated to Goldsmiths.

Karis Handson, one of GSU’s women’s officers, said that the SPUC’s material was “offensive and potentially distressing to students due to its moralistic and sensationalist language and judgemental framing of women who have chosen to have abortions”.

Later in the day SPUC published a blog post condemning the union’s response.

It said: “What began as some simple leafleting ended with us being followed by a group of 15 aggressive pro-abortion students”.

The SPUC also claimed they were smeared by the student union’s newspaper, The Leopard. The group said that they had been situated on public footpaths off-campus and “harassed” by members of the union’s feminist society.

Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 2 (07/10/2013)

Unions angered by NUS failure to consult

By London Student, University of London News

NUS Logo

The National Union of Students (NUS) has come under criticism for not consulting a sufficient number of London’s students’ unions on its plans for a new London-wide body.

Rachael Mattey, NUS vice-president, named only four students’ unions as consulted parties for the planned ‘NUS London’ area when questioned by the National Executive Council (NEC).

The only unions consulted over the new proposals were City University Union, Greenwich University Union, King’s College London Students’ Union, and the London School of Economics Union.

A London students’ union source said that NUS officers predominantly consulted sabbatical officers “they would get the right answers from”.

A statement being circulated among London union officers complains that there was no mention of an ‘NUS London’ area last month, when the interim executive of the London Union of Students (LUS) met with an NUS staff member.

Upon seeing the NUS preliminary plans, the interim executive of LUS submitted an amendment pushing for a more full-blooded union. However, the NEC rejected its hearing 17 votes to 13.

Mattey commented: “Ultimately the decision about whatever additional representation exist sits with London students’ unions. Following the NEC, NUS will continue to further consult with them on plans”.

Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 2 (07/10/2013)