On Wednesday Nov 4th, students from across the UK will march across London against the government in a protest organized by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC). The march starts at Malet Street at 12pm.
The latest campaign video for the march attacks the government across a broad range of topics, of course generally blaming ‘the wealthy and big business’. The video also condones footage of masked protesters destroying areas of London in previous marches, unfortunately some of which have turned violent.
So, why won’t Loughborough march this year like 80 of us did on a Wednesday in November back in 2010? Back then, the gripe was the clear planned tuition fee cap rise to £9,000. Now it’s clear the NCAFC are trying to latch on to general political unrest, and in part ignorance on the topic of tuition fees, to push their general anti-government agenda.
In 2010 the campaign was organised directly by the National Union of Students (the NUS) and involved around 40,000 demonstrators. This year, the NUS has given its half-hearted support, principally through Vice Presidents who were elected to the NUS exec on the NCAFC ticket.
When queried at Student Forum, VP: Education Kailey Hazeldene commented that there was no desire from Loughborough students to present an official delegation at the march.
Is that because LSU students have not been informed about the march, or are they actively choosing not to be involved in the mass student protest? Yet again Loughborough seem to distance themselves from the wider student population. The fact the NUS isn’t as officially involved with this march as they were in 2010 may go some way to explaining the reluctance to get involved.
Other students’ unions have official policy mandating their attendance at national demonstrations, drawing on funding from membership fees. LSU has no such policy, instead focusing on engaging in university politics on our doorstep fighting for direct issues such as earlier exam timetable releases, clarity over where our fees go and promoting successful campaigns such as Play with Pride.
Loughborough students do campaign for issues at a national level but typically do so through political organisations and groups already formed. For example the No2EU, Conservative and Labour party societies directly engage in national politics in a constructive manner. Frequent visits from Nicky Morgan have given us direct access to cabinet with issues ranging between tax queries and welfare issues.
With some of the largest Exec Elections voting figures for any SUs in the country, Loughborough students prove they can be political when they wants to be.
Outlining LSU’s official position on the march, Union President Jess Excell told Label:
We are always wanting to support our student body with issues they have. In the vast majority of cases, they will express issues regarding LSU and their life at Loughborough so we don’t focus our attention on the national student issues. However, if a number of Loughborough students were concerned about national issues and wanted us to campaign on them, it is, of course, something we would look into. Therefore, in this case, as there has been minimal interest in the Demo or a Free Education campaign by our students, we are not currently looking to support it.
While students from across the UK stand in ‘solidarity’ for a generic left-leaning agenda, students at Loughborough will be focused on their studies and, of course, retaining our BUCS title for the 36th year.