Thursday, 6 May 2010

SOAS motions on Msex Phil campaign and Censure of Wes Streeting, NUS president

Two motions at SOAS UGM this Friday.

2. Save Middlesex Philosophy

Proposed by: Alexej Ulbricht
Seconded: Shanti Ulfsbjorninn

This union notes:

    2.1    That on April 26th Middlesex University executive decided to close its Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), and in the course cut all philosophy programmes, undergraduate, postgraduate, and MPhil/PhD;

    2.2    That CRMEP is one of the most important centres for the study of modern European philosophy in the English-speaking world, and is well known for its social and political engagement;

    2.3    That philosophy is the highest research-rated subject at Middlesex, with the RAE rating 65% of its research as either ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’;

    2.4    That the MA programme in philosophy is the largest of its kind in the country, with 42 students admitted in 2009;

    2.5    That as such, the department also generates a substantial amount of revenue for the University, currently contributing close to half of its total income to the University's central administration;

    2.6    That despite all this the Dean for Arts and Humanities, Edward Esche, has stated that the reasons for closure where simply financial, and that the department made no ‘measurable’ contribution to the university;

    2.7    That a ‘Save Middlesex Philosophy’ campaign has been formed to oppose the closure;

    2.8    That this news follows a whole string of announced cuts around the country: at UCL, at Kings, at Westminster, and elsewhere;

This Union Believes:

    2.1    That there is nothing to justify the closure of CRMEP;

    2.2    That this is a foreboding sign of the kind of pressures that are going to hit Arts and Humanities subjects, if even a university’s most prestigious department faces the axe;

    2.3    That taking action against these measures is fundamental to defend the quality of Higher Education not only at Middlesex, but nationwide;

    2.4    That allowing a precedent of this kind paves the way for further cuts to be implemented in other institutions;

    2.5    That the SOAS academic tradition has always been at the forefront in Arts and Humanities, and is as such incompatible with cuts of this kind;

This Union Resolves:

    2.1    To formally support the Save Middlesex Philosophy campaign;

    2.2    To support every form of action that students at Middlesex are going to take against the announced measures;

    2.3    To send a letter to Dean Esche, voicing our opposition to these plans;

    2.4    To circulate the petition to save Middlesex philosophy in the next Union email;

2.5 To mandate the Students' Union executive to lobby the School to express its opposition to the damaging measures taken by Middlesex management.

5. Condemn Censure at National NUS Conference

Proposed By: Elly Badcock
Seconded By: Symeon Brown


This Union Notes

5.1  That Durham University Union Society planned, in March 2010, to invite the British National Party to a formal debate.

5.2  That the National Union of Student’s LGBT Officer and Black Student’s Officer wrote a letter to Durham Student Union requesting that they cancel the debate due to both the danger posed by inviting fascists onto campus, especially to black, LGBT, disabled and women students, and the NUS No Platform policy which they are mandated to campaign for within Student Unions. They stated in the letter that if the debate was not cancelled then they would organise a protest alongside Unite Against Fascism

5.3  That Durham Union Society cancelled the debate.

5.4  That Durham Union Society argued that the letter was threatening because of the line “if students are hurt around the event, responsibility will lie with you”.

5.5  That the signatories pointed out that this line was in reference to the statistically proven link between the BNP organising in an area and the rise in hate crime and violence.

5.6  That, subsequently, a campaign was staged at Durham to disaffiliate from the NUS, with a referendum voting narrowly for disaffiliation.

5.7  That at NUS National Conference 2010, a motion of censure was brought against both the Black Student’s Officer and the LGBT Officer, and was passed only against the Black Student’s Officer.

5.8  That Wes Streeting, current NUS President, as well as six other NEC members voted for this censure, and that the censure passed by exactly seven votes.

This Union Believes

5.1  That wherever fascists organise in an area, hate crime and violence rises.

5.2  That fascists threaten the very right of black, LGBT and disabled students to exist and are extremely misogynistic.

5.3  That the BNP are a fascist organisation seeking a veneer of respectability, but that their comments belie their true fascist nature. Speaking about the Holocaust, their leader Nick Griffin stated: “I have reached the conclusion that the‘extermination’ tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and latter [day] witch hysteria.” On the subject of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, he said: ““Everyone down there knows he was notorious for taxing kids for their dinner money and he was a drug dealer. According to many people within the Metropolitan police, he was killed by another black – not a white racist attack at all.”

5.4  That fascists are not welcome in our Student’s Union.

5.5  That the Black Student’s and LGBT officers were right to request the cancellation of the debate, and to organise a protest.

5.6  That censuring a Liberation Officer for anti-fascist work sends out an extremely dangerous message that will be seized by the BNP as evidence that they are a legitimate party.

5.7  That censuring a black woman and not a white man for the same actions is disturbing at best.

5.8  That the censure of the Black Students’ Officer and attempted censure of the LGBT Officer gives the false impression that the NUS and (therefore NEC) does not support our liberation campaigns and their officers.

5.9  That these false impressions, if not corrected, have the potential to damage the organisation further, up to and including discouraging participation from Black and LGBT students and constituent members like ourselves who represent a high proportion of students from these campaigns.

5.10 That the Liberation Campaigns (Black students, Women, LGBT and Disabled students) are autonomous and should be mandated by and answerable to their members.
5.11 That it is shameful for seven NEC members to vote for this censure.

5.12 That the NUS must take a strong, anti-fascist stance and actively defend the case for No Platform.


This Union Resolves

5.1 That we have no confidence in Wes Streeting and the NEC members who voted for the censure.

5.2 To pass a motion of censure from SOAS Union against Wes Streeting and said NEC members.

5.3 To call on the NEC to release a statement which re-affirms its support for the No Platform policy of the NUS

5.4 To call on the NEC to further include in this statement a re-affirmation of its support for both the Black Students’ Campaign, LGBT Campaign and all liberation campaigns

5.5 To affiliate to and continue our work with Unite Against Fascism

5.6 To implement a No Platform for fascists policy in SOAS Union

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