YUSU and its misdirected welfare fetish

YUSU’s welfare policies have gone too far…in the wrong direction

The latest news from clubbing land has led to SHOCK and HORROR. Students have been creamed up and whipped in a fit of ‘shameless peer pressure’ and ‘abject lack of responsibility’. A DJ has been fired and Our Great Leader Kallum Taylor is no longer sure if Tokyo can be ‘trusted’.

Welcome to the latest display of YUSU welfare fetish. The whipped fury of belts and cream was yet another display of YUSU welfare wrapping us nice and tightly in cotton wool. One would have thought that people in their late teens and twenties might be trusted to say they’d rather not be whipped by a belt. But no, in Kallum’s world of safety nets and nannying, people who are old enough to be leading men on the world’s front lines need to be protected… from themselves.

When it matters though, Kallum and George Offer are too busy. The sad thing about YUSU’s OTT reaction to club games is that when support is actually needed the system tells vulnerable kids to go and grow a pair.

And what’s more, genuine drives by students to improve this are being diverted through committees. Otherwise known as bureaucratic circle-jerks of pseudo-lefties, kind faces look concerned and promise that welfare reform is going according to the latest five-year plan.

George Offer recently told a campaigning student that he was glad she had it covered. And yes, he is referring to the job he is paid to do full time.

But it’s not just YUSU that is barking up the wrong tree. Campus media reported club antics like they’re a threat to the very fabric of society. The way these front page stories were reported only serves to back up YUSU’s mollycoddling. Who actually wouldn’t go to a Tokyo night because they were worried about the ‘Wheel of Doom’? I think YUSU needs to give us, and our ability to say ‘not this time’, a little more respect.

What’s the result? Well even as Willow’s entry prices hit parity with YUSU nights, people still flock to its sticky floors, death-threat stairwell and drink prices that a YUSU night couldn’t touch with a barge pole.

It’s a welfare free zone and that’s its beauty. It revels in its ambulance figures. When Tommy Fong was asked if people fell down the stairs his answer was “Haha all the time!”.

But this is anathema to YUSU’s welfare-first-fun-last policies. Like a puppet Kallum must put on his Stern Face and give the club in question a slap on the wrist. But as other clubs show nannying doesn’t make us any safer. YUSU have got to realise that as students, clubbing is our playground. For a few sweaty hours we can escape the stale monotony of library rules and tutors’ deadlines. It’s bizarre that Taylor should want to curb this.

When YUSU pick next year’s clubs, the panel will be made up of the president, welfare officer and some backroom staff. Students, like in last year’s Salvo deal, don’t get a look in. And what’s more, for all Kallum’s words one has to wonder where Thursday nights would move to anyway.

But this is secondary to the simple solution. YUSU just needs to ‘wind its neck in’, as one commenter put it. Taylor and Offer should stop fussing over creamy nipples and focus on the serious stuff. Depression, self-harm, anorexia and domestic abuse are the real demons they should be fighting.

Welfare isn’t in a state of emergency, as some would have you believe, but some are clearly still slipping through the net.

Cheaper drinks and better games are what students want, but as it stands they are denied. A welfare system that takes concerns seriously is what students need, but as it stands that is also denied. Kallum and co. have misjudged the mood on welfare – let’s hope they’ll now take the students trying to make a difference seriously and stop fussing over our club nights.

13 comments

  1. 15 Mar ’14 at 1:10 pm

    Donald Donaldson

    Usually I hate this guy. But this is right on the money – the SU (or ‘YUSU’, a misdirecting name from what they actually are in itself) are more concerned about where the money comes from for these four nights, and place genuine student interests second, speaking from experience.

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  2. YUSUless.

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  3. 15 Mar ’14 at 2:37 pm

    One is not amused

    Shut up Witherow

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  4. Of course, many of us remember when both Kallum and George were rather less critical of such antics…

    But of course that doesn’t get you a job as an Assistant Co-ordinator of Development Co-ordinators or whatever, at some far-flung, even more flyblown than YUSU SU, once you’re term limit comes up.

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  5. 15 Mar ’14 at 9:13 pm

    Michael Hollins

    This article is heroic – saying what we’re all thinking. It’s about time YUSU stopped trying to police everything and vilify anything that doesn’t conform to their agenda.

    Not everyone is a holier-than-thou leftist who wants to police others’ behaviour.

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  6. 21 Mar ’14 at 9:51 pm

    Kallum Taylor

    I think you’re doing a good thing in provoking some debate about this Tom, but what could be decent points are undermined by a piece which just reeks of irrational anger when you talk about “bureaucratic circle-jerks of pseudo-lefties”, then again that’s probably done on purpose to give the piece added edge… But of course, if student opinion was indeed on your side then YUSU would have little choice but to follow suit.

    A few things, if I may:

    Students are involved in the tendering process via the survey we run every single year, which, to memory, gets a good few hundred responses… If there’s any glaring problems clear in this we’ll certainly address them when it comes to picking who we go with.

    We’ll be opening it up even more this year too; so instead of just waiting for willing clubs/promotions teams to come to us with a pitch, we’re going to invite every single club and promotions team to put bids in. Hopefully we’ll get some interesting mixes and matches which should shake things up a little bit.

    Additionally we’ll be making sure that the College JCRC’s / CSA’s are much more involved in this process too. This should see them receive tangible financial benefits from the deals this year, as opposed to this year’s set up which really hasn’t been of much value to them.

    Things like this can obviously always get better, but we’re doing pretty well here. Our club nights average a solid 800 – 1100 people throughout term, so I think we’re on the right track.

    And on Wednesday night Salvation – now the busiest night on any night of the week in any venue – the Sports Clubs signed up to it and those who wanted reassurance on other clubs doing so before them were given the power of a veto… To suggest they were forced is ludicrous.

    Also, given the funding climate, you’ve got to give credit to Salvation for investing well over £16,000 into our sports teams which wasn’t there initially. It’s a great night. It works. End of.

    With regards to nannying students or however you put it, I would hardly view the official nights as being in any way, shape or form boring, dry or expensive… We give plenty of room and license to our partner venues to create a fun and entertaining night – but if some of them push the boundaries in a way that’s excessive, then we have to make a stand…

    If you don’t, you get a crazy race to the bottom between venues/promoters about who can be the most raw/extreme. I’m sorry if this causes you trouble, but I’ll always put students being disturbed by the things they see, or feel pressured to do, WELL over the small minority of students who get annoyed at YUSU for trying to put in some form of bottom line.

    Cheers.

    Kallum

    PS: I see you’ve cited the welfare “run off their” feet article from Autumn term. We kind of were. The amount of academic/personal casework that has come to YUSU has more than doubled in the last 2 years with just one member of staff to deal with them… Thankfully the University, the GSA and YUSU have all put some money in to fund an extra staff member to help meet this demand which *should* see things improve. We shall see though.

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  7. 21 Mar ’14 at 10:03 pm

    Kallum Taylor

    That all being said though, if we’re worried so much about being nannied then there’s plenty of bars and other club nights which we have the choice to go to if we want.

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  8. @Kallum – Yeah except when YUSU socs like ours try to put on fund-raising nights on the same night as YUSU nights we’re told to move to less lucrative times, just so YUSU can protect its partner’s commercial interests. Pretty sure we’re not the only society to have had this problem

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  9. 24 Mar ’14 at 2:41 pm

    Kallum Taylor

    @Fusion

    That’s a good point and I’ll see how we can work that into the next set of agreements. Fair comment.

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  10. 27 Mar ’14 at 10:23 pm

    thanks kallum

    “I think you’re doing a good thing in provoking some debate about this Tom, but what could be decent points are undermined by a piece which just reeks of irrational anger when you talk about “bureaucratic circle-jerks of pseudo-lefties”, then again that’s probably done on purpose to give the piece added edge… ”

    I am sure young Tom is very pleased to have your discerning comments about his journalistic style from you Kallum, I didn’t know that sub-editor/tone-policer/journalistic and prose expert was part of your job description! I am awaiting the news of your forthcoming writing workshops with baited breath x

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  11. Sorry – this is a whole article saying YUSU puts too much attention on Welfare.

    This is a charity that exists primarily to support and represent the welfare interests of its members.

    Glad to see Nouse is still the same, misdirected rag it’s always been.

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    • I think you’ve misread something, the point isn’t that there’s too much welfare, it’s that it’s misdirected.
      I felt uncomfortable with the games at Tokyo but this pales in comparison to my experience with the welfare provided by the open door team.
      I suffer with depression and social anxiety and was told by one of the team’s councillor’s that I was making this all up and there was nothing wrong with me and by another that I should manage my anxiety by getting drunk.
      This is just my personal experience and I know countless other people who have been summarily let down by the union’s provision of welfare for students with mental illnesses.
      I fully agree with you when you say ‘This is a charity that exists primarily to support and represent the welfare interests of its members.’ and the issue that a lot of people are having at the moment is that YUSU is NOT representing our welfare interests adequately.

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