Friday, 26 November 2010

Some thoughts for the Guild of Students

As we think and talk about what we should do next, I feel I should give the guild some thoughts on what it could do next.

The guild and several officers in particular, please stop attempting damage and attempting to smother anti cuts movement on campus.

Dora Meredith President and Rob Hunter VPEA: despite repeatedly stating you had no time to support the Guilds Unison allies, even in minimal actions such as sending out one facebook message, twitter or e-mail. You did seem to find the time to come down for several hours and give out your criticism and let you disapproval be known on T.V and Birmingham papers. Making the student movement look rather odd and divided is not the way forward. 

 (Unison & UCU are fighting on campus on behalf of students for lower fees and to keep staff wages at decent rate some staff are being paid £12,915, yet are taking 4.4% cuts, while their managers have taken none themselves, the guild still refuse to back them).

I know you think it is impossible to send messages of support like other well respected allies like unison and UCU.

Unison “@stopcuts brum Thanks from Bham Uni Unison Exec for the support yesterday & congrats on a peaceful, lively, tuneful demo”

Birmingham UCU On behalf of the University of Birmingham branch of the University and College Union, we would like to send our solidarity to the students taking non-violent action at the University of Birmingham. Our higher education system is under a sustained attack that will turn the clock back on generations of social progress, democratic advance and educational achievement. Under the government’s proposals, our country looks set to become the most expensive place to study in the world, while the cuts to public funding represent an unprecedented attack on the fundamental basis of our education system, an attack that may well lead to the closure of colleges and universities. Your action is an inspiration to staff and students seeking to oppose these vicious attacks. - Birmingham UCU Committee”

Aston UCU - Aston University UCU committee sends our support and solidarity to students in occupation at Birmingham University. The attacks on universities threaten to destroy the sector as we know it, barring generations from the benefits of higher education. Staffs stand with students in the struggle to defend education, access and the right to knowledge. Your actions give us hope. In solidarity, Aston UCU.

But is really worth, coming down, stopping your work, purely to come down slag students off? I disagree with many things you are doing, but I’m only criticizing you for the things you are not doing, rather than the things you are doing because I don’t want to damage your efforts.

Rob Hunter (VP Education) at one point you took the UNISON and said 'thank you for coming to this demonstration ...' as if you personally hadn’t angrily argued against a motion in support of it the previous week, told students not to attend the rally and refused the publicize the rally.

Ashley Chambers VP democracy and Resources and Rob Hunter: you came into the sit in at the Aston Webb, telling students involved that the university was going to come down hard on them and that they should leave. In future do not turn up again if your only purpose is to try and bully and scare students involved.
why ar you still, claiming that by joining, Birmingham City university students union, Unison, the Universities and Colleges Union and the National Union of Teachers in Criticizing a establishment that has been vigorously active in pushing for cuts to higher education and for no cap on tuition fees will, make it a fringe organization with no relevance in the debate.

Criticizing the university does not make the guild a fringe party without a foot in the door; such an accusation is ridiculous, quite the opposite it means it is not taking part in the meaningful dialogue on campus between the unions and the university. Rob hunter, Dora Meredith and Ashley chambers team mislead students by claiming that for a guild council motion on 18/11/10 would take the guild out of the rational debate despite it being in line with Unison, UCU policy i.e the majority of political organizations on campus.

For a Students Union Taking part in the dialogue between the university and unions is common sense, especially since staff unions are currently now bargaining on behalf of students to keep fees down without the guilds help. A ridiculous position for the guild to be in, sidelining themselves for the sake of avoiding a group on the spurious reason that they believe in principle in free education, which the political clique in charge of the NUS seems to have an anathema over.

These organizations, UCU and Unison, are our main allies nationally; the guild has now shamefully adopted a position in which they are its opposition locally.

Ashley chambers: you slam students for not getting involved on your officer blog and threaten to cause students who don’t turn up to guild council hassle.

Yet at the same time, in the only forum for how the guild should run its campaign, your fellow officers Dora Meredith and Rob Hunter have failed to act on single one of the very reasonable requests made at the meeting, which I will list below in the hope they are finally done.

At the same time as threatening students for not coming along to meetings, the guild brazenly ignores students who do, no wonder the guild is failing to engage and empower students. The guild needs to starting offering students more than the stick as a reason to get involved in campaigning. I want guild councilors and students to become more active, more involved as well, I would do so by inspiring them, giving them training and chance to have meaningful input not by threatening to take away my personal patronage.

1. The guild create a Facebook group, phone tree, e-mail list for fees and cuts campaigning, so it has a dedicated communication channel for this campaign.

2. The Guild to back the Unison/ UCU protest on campus on the 24th and outreach to these organizations.

3. Give permission to Unison and UCU to use the guilds logo on its their leaflets, obviously giving the guild a chance to see and edit the leaflets firsts.

4. To organise speaker events, public debates and training sessions as they are mandated to do, to inspire and empower students to fight against tuition fee increases.

5. The guild of students should start using twitter, a useful social media tool to engage students.

6. Should back its formal allies the right to work campaign, in their activities in Birmingham

7. Back its formal allies the National union of teachers, in their campaigns against cuts and closures around Birmingham.

8. Back its formal allies UCU in their campaigns to keep fees down and staff wages at a reasonable level.

9. To back its formal allies Unison in its efforts to protect university support workers and keep student fees down.

10. The guild should attend the Birmingham unity meetings organised by UCU, unison NUT, NUS, Right to Work and Birmingham city students union.

11. The guild should publish its copy of the sustainable excellence document, which outlines the cuts to be made at Birmingham University, which the university has indicated it is happy for it to do.


  1. Thank you. I have written to the Guild with my concerns on numerous ocassions but never received even a token acknowledgement, let alone a reply.

  2. Slagging off the Guild Officers doesn't help your case and is divisive. Occupying only got publicity - and not always the best publicity - but the effect of other campaigning methods should not be underestimated. The Guild Officers have lobbied successfully a number of LibDem MPs and at the end of the day that will count.

  3. Perhaps slagging off guild officers, is not the way (although I agree with everything in the OP) but I would equally emphasise that slagging off everything that is done without the consent of the guild by guild officers is definitely not the way!