Letter to the CUSU Executive from Women’s Officer and Chair of CUSU LGBT

Dear Exec,

We wanted to write to you so that we could place many of these motions
in context. These motions have completely sanitised the issues that they
are dealing with, but although they may give the impression of a greater
efficiency and a streamlined democracy, many of us believe that many of
the changes put forward in the motions represent an enormous attack on
democracy, and will take CUSU in the wrong direction entirely.

The exec may be one of the biggest in the country, but CUSU is also one
of the most progressive student unions in the country, which we had
always thought respected the necessity and autonomony of the Women’s,
LGBT, International and Black Studnet’s Campaigns. The suggestion that
the Women’s Sabb should be scrapped, and the four heads of the
autonomous campaigns placed within a sub-committee of the executive is a
slap in the face to the principle of representation and liberation.

Not that any of this has been discussed, and this is thoroughly
anti-democratic. The first I (Michelle) heard about the proposed
scrapping of the Women’s Sabb position was this morning, a few hours
before papers were sent out to council, regardless of the fact that I
work with three members of DPC each and every day. The first that Olly
knew about enormous changes to the way that the autonomous campaigns
function within CUSU was after the news was broken to me. There was no
consulatation at all, and that is not democracy.

We all agree that the autonomous campaigns need more help, and we all
agree that the part time exec at large have a huge amount to do, but
scrapping the position of the women’s sabb, so that four autonomous
campaigns can squabble over the time of a single staff member, (who may
not be a member of any campaign), is not progress – it’s nothing more
than a tokenistic gesture and not a resolution to the problem. We could
have said this earlier and saved everyone’s time, but the decision was
taken somewhere not to consult the people who would be most affected by
these changes – the CUSU Executive and the autonomous campaigns.

Things are going very seriously wrong here, and we’re not going to fix
it by creating further barriers between student and CUSU, by people
keeping information to themselves, or by ignoring the democratic process
entirely. Nor are we going to improve democracy and representation by
halving the size of the executive. It is true that the exec is not a
sovereign body, or a decision making body, but neither is it the place
of DPC, or individual members of it, to make enormous decisions on
behalf of 18,000 students without any visible evidence of broader

We have requested that the motions regarding the Women’s Sabb and the
shake up of the exec be removed, and that we return to the discussion
table, so that a debate with those currently in post can take place. We
have asked that this decision be made before CUSU Exec tomorrow and
think that is only reasonable. We also believe that some motions are
unconstitutional and will present the relevant sections of the
constitution at tomorrow’s meeting.


Michelle and Olly