Now that’s entertainment!
The Voice of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford is always going to stand up against cuts. But disturbing news has reached us from the University of Surrey.
Could it really have been necessary for the University to have spent over £90,000 in one hotel alone, on entertaining over the last year? I realise that visiting professors often need to be accommodated, but crikey £90,000 is a lot of accommodation.
This staggering figure has been spent on events like entertaining around forty people at the “Royal Economica Annual Social”, at a cost of nearly £5,000. A similar amount was spent on a jolly for the Post Graduate Medical School. Even “9-5” meetings are costing the University over £2,500 a time – just for the privilege of chatting in posh surroundings with a few sandwiches at lunch time.
The most disturbing news was that Student Union officers have also been beneficiaries of the University’s generosity. Over £2,500 has been spent on entertaining NUS officers at just one hotel alone, over the last few months. Several officers have even stayed overnight at the University’s expense.
The VOAG is beginning to wonder whether these little treats, which are thrown to the union sabbatical, are connected in any way to their unwillingness to campaign on behalf of students. Is their deep conservatism in any way influenced by a three-course meal and an occasional night out at the University’s expense?
Perhaps it’s time for student officers to be ‘scrutinised’. Perhaps they should be forced to declare any benefits they receive over and above their salaries.
In the midst of so many occupations, demonstrations and protests, The Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford finds it hard to believe Surrey University could remain so quiet.
Just up the road in Egham, the Royal Holloway University has seen an unprecedented campaign against fees and cuts. They regularly hold vibrant meetings and workshops, and have organised several occupations and protests. They also discuss wider issues, host debates, and join with other groups in the community to organise against the cuts. The Royal Holloway has just elected a socialist to be the next president of their union.
If Royal Holloway University is the norm, Surrey University must be the exception. The Student Union reluctantly booked coaches to take students to the NUS Demonstration in London on 10th November. The demonstration was officially supported by the NUS, so they felt obliged to book coaches, but they did nothing to publicise their free transport.
In similar fashion, the University’s Student Union reluctantly agreed to support a lunch-time demonstration on the 24th November, “National Day Of Action”. A small lunch-time meeting outside the student union was their answer to the wave of protests elsewhere across the country that day. The union did nothing to inform students of what was being planned and even kept it out of the student newspaper.
Students at Royal Holloway, Surrey University’s nearest neighbour occupied their university – while a thousand students demonstrated outside Kingston University, Surrey’s other close neighbour.
In a quiet meeting behind closed doors with two student activists, just prior to the November 24th protest, union officers made it clear they did not want to see a campaign against fees and cuts on the campus. They said they would not support a campaign or provide it any material assistance.
The student’s response to their union’s implacable refusal to campaign has been muted, those students that presented themselves as activists have shied away from a confrontation with the union clique.
However it has been shown up and down the country that where there has been a principled response to education cuts and rises in fees, campaigns have always gained popular support among students.