Following the recent debacle of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, traversing YUSU’s convoluted ratification and appeals process, the means of christening new societies has been overhauled by Chris West, Student Activities Officer. Finally introducing a list of criteria for burgeoning groups, and founding a new independent appeals body, gives students a more transparent view of YUSU’s selection system. More importantly it is a means of getting a good hand in the game of student politics. It’s gratifying to see that the student voice will be heard here; not quite a reprieve for lack of consultation by Kallum Taylor, YUSU President, on proposed boundary changes. But maybe it’s little things that matter more to the campus microcosm.
While the ‘checklist of key attributes’ is still a little hazy, it marks a distinct improvement on the previous system. Being given a clear breakdown of what is required to pass through the hallowed arch of ratification into the realms of Union endorsement and dollar may sound prescriptive, but view it through an alternative lens and it’s easy to play. These conditions are a veiled advantage – boundaries to maneuver within or even manipulate. I’d like to see people taking advantage of this as a concrete precedent for the weird and wonderful to attain SocStatus, prominence or, at the least, recognition on campus. Societies have the ability to enrich, more so as they drift further left of field. Enough of the mundanity and more of the MedSoc.
West has also achieved further democratisation of the process by launching a separate appeals body which is independent of the initial application board. The previous appeals procedure opperated with the same members on all bodies- hardly a system that screams democracy. Since the changes have been introduced, four new societies have been welcomed by the Union after having already appealed, revealing the inadequacy of the prior system. That this blatant subjectivity should have been institutionalised for so long is stunning considering that YUSU claims to be “run for, and by, the 15,000 students” at York. Here at least the clarifications should improve the student/YUSU relationship. Expecting anything less than transparency from our Union would be ridiculous. Hopefully we can expect a more diverse and exciting collection of societies to attain a place within the University network, as this reform begins to ring the changes.
On a related note, the assertion that the Palestinian Solidarity Society was denied because it lacked “potential to develop its members,” is hilarious considering the smooth ride FetSoc had in ratification last year.
Recent reform shows an intention to undermine the institution-based control of endorsement for student-run activities. YUSU is a democratic body and should represent all its students. And we on campus need to utilise this – the changes may seem inconsequential but maybe that is due to our lack of engagement with student politics.
West’s changes in the wake of harsh criticisms demonstrates their will to listen and act. The reorganised ratification system opens the door to a diversified and stimulating range of interests to realise their potential YUSU-worthy status. Of course there should be certain confines on condoned societies – nobody really likes the EDL do they? – but the previous limitations were far too subjective for too long. What is important is that we reap this new transparency to shape the criteria to our own means, not to the say of the University.