The University of London management has announced in the last 24 hours that it wants to shut down University of London Union (ULU) and replace it with a management-led ‘Services Centre’ – stripped of democratic, political and campaigning life.
ULU has been a reliable and long-standing supporter of the Defend the Right to Protest campaign. It has also been a hub for student campaigning for decades and played a key role in the 2010 student movement.
Any attack on a union is an attack on the right of the majority to self-organise. It is at times like this when we need to remind ourselves of the century-old union slogan; ‘an attack on one is an attack on all’. Shutting ULU sets a precedent. For more adventurous university management teams it says; ‘you can get away with shutting the troublemakers up’.
Student Unions have already had their powers truncated over the last two decades as a result of the 1994 Education act, and the resulting trend towards ‘partnership’ rather than campaigning. This move, if unopposed, if successful, would be an incredible opportunity for senior management to start ripping the beating heart out of student politics.
Without a doubt, student politics and student unions can be frustrating and bureaucratic. But if we concede our right to organise in those unions, we ensure that our fights are harder to wage in the future. We lose those platforms and those resources. That would be an incredible loss. ULU, local Student Unions and the NUS have been crucial in building Defend the Right to Protest and spreading the message across the country, from the student protest trials, to deaths in custody and the attacks on the Sussex occupation.
Please sign and share the petition, and we’ll make sure that we share any details of actions that arise in the next few weeks.