Ramblings on Representation

Posted on April 5, 2011

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This evening’s blog is almost certainly going to be exactly as the title suggests: Ramblings on Representation. During the KUSU election campaign that I and Team Unity have just won, one of the big issues I and the opposition Team X did battle over was that of political allegiances. I apologise to anyone from Team X who may read this in advance, as this post is not meant as an attack, but merely musings on the debate that we undertook between each other during the campaign. I have admiration and respect for the campaign that they ran, and I fundamentally believe them to be well intentioned in their politics however much we may differ.

One of the issues that came up repeatedly was; should a student officer subscribe to a particular ideology in the way they conduct themselves and should that govern the way decisions are made. On many occasions we asserted that we came to the table without any particular ideology. In retrospect that assertion was somewhat false for some of us. The incoming VP Communications – Lucy Williams for example does come into her new role without any political allegiances. She has undertaken this role, with entirely unselfish motivations in wanting to better the way we as a union communicate with our students.

I however differ slightly. Many people will already know that I am a member of the conservative party. This is a rarity within Students’ Unions which are typically left wing organisations that are often dominated by centre left candidates and officers. Some may now ask how you can possibly lead such an organisation with such personal political leanings. The answer is in fact very simple. I believe in representation.

Team X often throughout their campaign talked about the importance of being activists and having political views. They are right to an extent. It is important for the Students’ Union to be a political body and to be politically active. Where I and the EAN and Team X differ largely is that I do not believe it is for a Union officer to define that political stance. It is for the students to define. There are 25,730 higher education students registered as studying at Kingston according to HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency). Is it possible that the views of one officer defining policy can be democratic? Or is that not a dictatorship?

I came to university after significant difficulty during my college years and after having taken a gap year working with disabled children in the public sector. I came to university with one aim. To become a barrister. Barristers or lawyers often are unpopular and do not take good press in society. However there is a reason I wanted to be become a barrister. Not for money, as despite what the public impression is the bar is not only incredibly competitive but it is often not well paid. Not for fame as few people in the country can name a barrister. I wanted to be a barrister because I believe everyone regardless of background, finances, colour, creed or religion, deserves to be represented.

How does this translate to my new role as President?

Regardless of my own political views, I am here to represent the student view. I am here to establish and organisation that effectively consults her members and I am here to ensure that view is articulated in the most efficient manner possibly to both the university locally and the government nationally. Tuition fee increases are not good for students. Scrapping of EMA is not good for students. Scrapping of Aim Higher is not good for students. It may be good for deficit reduction (although in the case of tuition fees this remains to be proven), but it is not good for students. I will continue to fight against cuts to the Higher Education sector and I will continue to champion the rights of students as that is why I ran for election. To represent students.

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