Meet your new parents, the York Student Union

Toby Green finds it abhorrent that the Student Union proposes trespass as a policy for a better university

The Student Union want you to think that they are focused on your personal privacy. But now they want to go into your room without asking. To me, that smacks of hypocrisy, bad planning and a disregard for the rights of students.

Imagine the scene: you pop out of your room for five minutes to make a cup of tea, and return only to find John Rose, unaccompanied by Security Services, rummaging through your undergarments in order to find valuables to stick their shiny new red stickers on.

“Hang on a minute”, I hear you cry, “Surely this isn’t allowed?” Well no it isn’t, Rose is opening himself up to a civil action – he could be sued Toby Green finds it abhorrent that the Student Union proposes trespass as a policy for a better university by any students whose room he invades. It is a ludicrous situation for him to get into. The Union is supposed to be the lawyer of York students, not it’s governess – soon they might be checking whether we have our rain macs when it gets a bit windy!

We do need to be aware of security on campus, but Rose is not the one to tell us, especially not by breaking and entering.

This provokes serious doubts over the Student Unions’ ability to run practical and effective campaigns. Obviously student security is a problem; a big problem in the coming summer months where windows and doors are left open as campus begins to enjoy the great outdoors. Therefore students need to be made aware of this by the Welfare Office. But this is a case where the end does not justify the means, especially since there are other security issues that should and can be addressed first.

One of these is the ridiculous door code system. Combinations are widely shared amongst students, creating an entry point for thieves. A keycard system would only allow residents, and their friends, entry to buildings. The Union has already dismissed the idea of replacing the weak locks on campus. Matthew Platts’ suggestion was sensible, but ignored.

I have seen two locks being broken by a quick shove, thankfully in legitimate circumstances. The Welfare Office should be attacking the University for scrimping on student security rather than targeting the students themselves.

There are also huge moral questions that will be raised by this campaign if it goes ahead, questions which the Union will be unable and is in no position to answer. How will they respond if a student alleges that something has gone missing in the time period Rose was known to be in their room? What happens if they come across something illegal, such as drugs, or something sensitive? Rose has claimed that the SU will turn a blind eye, but how can he guarantee the same can be said for the University officials that support his scheme?

More worryingly is the response from the Security Services, who have publicly supported it. The Students’ Union has a bad record in regards to getting on the wrong side of the law; last year they were almost sued for deciding to campaign against the BNP, a clear breach of Union rules as they are supposed to remain firmly apolitical.

University organisations should be expected to have a better grasp of the law, yet their unequivocal support is another example of their lack of respect for students. Security need to remember who they are protecting.

Where will this end? Are we going to have the environment officers hiding in our closet making sure we recycle? Will James Alexander have access to our rooms so that he can enforce the Union’s Safe Sex campaign?

This idea should have been nipped early in the bud by the University, showing that they would take a stand against personal invasion, a stand which would have left students without the constant fear of discovering John Rose clambering through their windows at any time of day.