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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

Political activity at GSU at a downfall

October 4, 2012
Writers_Courtney Greatrex & Aurelie Gonnage Student activity at Goldsmiths Students’ Union is dropping at an alarming rate. It is becoming increasingly clear that there is a culture of nonchalance towards student politics around the university, as highlighted by the less than impressive turnout at the first student assembly of the year last Tuesday.  Is it…
Writers_Courtney Greatrex & Aurelie Gonnage
Student activity at Goldsmiths Students’ Union is dropping at an alarming rate. It is becoming increasingly clear that there is a culture of nonchalance towards student politics around the university, as highlighted by the less than impressive turnout at the first student assembly of the year last Tuesday.  Is it due to a lack of communication from the SU to students? Or is it an overwhelming sense that student politics is inaccessible?The student assembly is a student-lead forum consisting of all four full time officers, part time officers, student trustees and any other student that is interested in the movements of their SU. Motions are passed and decisions are made about the stance and future of our Union. Needless to say, it’s an important date. The real shocker is that no one actually goes.

Is the recent decision to open assembly to all students a good one? Aimed at encouraging student activity, is it rather going to hinder it? What students are actually aware that they can go to assembly and vote on motions? Mostly only the ones who are already involved and passing motions. With this in mind, isn’t the new rule allowing for even less democracy? Those who are proposing motions can now encourage their friends to come and vote for them, without the rest of the student body being aware of these.

For a student assembly to officially take place, there must be at least 50 per cent of elected student officers present in order to pass motions, make decisions and keep the Students’ Union progressing.  On Tuesday, there was a measly seven. Seven of the twenty officers elected by the students of Goldsmiths to represent them for the 2012/13 academic year were present at one of the most important engagements of their appointment.

This is yet another blow to activity levels in the Union this year. Membership numbers for clubs and societies are significantly dropping year after year since 2008.  A report by the Student’s Union shows that society memberships are dropping at a rate of 400 memberships per year and sports members has fallen to a depressingly small number of 474 out of almost 9000 students.

So what is wrong?

This dismal statistic has got to be ringing some alarm bells for our sabbaticals and part time officers. How can students want to participate in the Students’ Union if the elected officers can’t even make it to student assembly? A logical understanding of this would be to connect the two.

Whilst Goldsmiths SU is trying to do their best, there is only so much that can be done with the limited resources, dwindling activity and a distinct lack of cohesion throughout the Students’ Union. Without student representatives doing their part, improvement is something that just cannot be achieved. How can we get past this significant barrier in student activity?

By means of communication. And that is what we aim to do this year as editors of [smiths]. We are proud Goldsmiths students and feel strongly that we need to fight to keep our reputation of being at the forefront of student democracy and manifesting a constant appraisal of our own community. These are the issues we’re faced with and we need to be protecting our own interests and holding our officers to account.

What do you guys think? Leave your comments!

Current Officers

Full Time officers:
President: Samsun Osun
Campaigns Officer: Conrad Grant
Educations Officer: Soren Goard
Welfare and Diversity Officer: Tama White

Part Time Officers

Ethical and Environmental Officer: Sarah Charter
International Students Officer: Aashti Bawa
LGBT Students Officer: Joe Killin
Mature Students Officer: David-Osa Amadasun
Palestine Twinning Officer: Mira Peliti
Societies Officers: Muryum Khan & Kanwal Shahid
Womens Officers: Ren Aldridge & Martha Julings
Student Parent Officer: Petrina Brooks
Black and Minority Ethnic Students Officers: Roshni Nagaria & Sidhra Qureishi
Campaigns Coordination Officers: Howard Littler & Dylan Tynan
Smiths Editors: Aurelie Gonnage & Courtney Greatrex
Leopard Newspaper Editors: Nindyani Atmodipoero & Alice Yehia
Wired Radio Manager: Kieren Hennessy
Anthropology Departmental Rep: Shane Boothby
Media Departmental Rep: Joan Abbas
Sociology Departmental Rep: Imranul Hoque & Becky Smith
Student Trustees: Arif Ali, Samuel Amos, Katharina Herold & Andrew Souter

Next student assembly :  13th November 2012 at 1pm, NAB LG02