Wentworth Graduate Common Room Committee has voted against the formation of a College Student Association (CSA) following the recent YUSU referendum.
Joshua Henning, Wentworth College GCRC chair, criticised the plans in a letter to Kallum Taylor, YUSU President, saying “We could not bring our college into an untested system which we have had no opportunity to contribute in creating.
“There has been no mention of liasing with college GCRCs and consequently we do not believe that postgraduates, who make up a large number of the University’s student population, have been adequately consulted or our collective interests taken into account. The role that the GSA will play in the new system has also not been sufficiently addressed and remains ambiguous.”
The Wentworth Chair continued his appraisal of the plans by attacking YUSU’s handling of the vote, insisting that “we as a GCRC are concerned with the way in which the referenda and associated campaigns were organised and operated in terms of democratic transparency.
“We also strongly advise that all colleges with vibrant GCRCs and postgraduate communities seriously consider the implications of a move to College Student Associations (for all those who they represent) at the present time.”
In response, Taylor apologised for the problems in communication and the running of the campaign.
“The new system actually provides greater flexibility for student representation in colleges, which we could have made clearer if we had done a better job communicating with you about the changes,” Taylor wrote in a statement. “The aim is, in fact, to make our policy more representative of students’ views and to consult the membership more broadly on what issues we should stand for.”
He also noted that there had been problems with the integrity of the campaign, as no strong opposition to the motion had been mounted. “It was like being in a boxing match, with nobody in the ring to fight… Of course the standard of debate was awful, as there was only ‘yes’ literature around campus and online. Had we had decent ‘no’ campaigns for the motions then that would’ve instantly bumped up the interest.”
Vanbrugh JCRC also voted on the plans, and passed the motion to introduce a CSA with a 92% majority.