Students are incompatible with OUSU

OUSU was in confusion this week as it attempted to implement
the result of last term’s referendum on the future of higher
education funding. The overwhelming result of the referendum was
to ‘reduce student numbers’ but the student union is
having difficulty reconciling this with current policy such as
‘free higher education’ and ‘equal access for
all’. Daniel Simpson, OUSU Council Delegate and Labour Club Chair,
said, “The policy is a single line and very unclear, so we
don’t know how it can fit with access”. Concern was
raised as to why the contradictions with other areas of OUSU
policy had not been foreseen. Ken Owen from the Education Reform
Group which campaigned for ‘reduce student numbers’
said it was OUSU’s responsibility “to make sure that
each option was a real choice.” The committee decided to ask political groups to look for a
definition that would not contradict other parts of OUSU policy
and if this was not possible, to suggest a second referendum to
ask “Do you think it should be OUSU policy to reduce student
numbers?” This would allow OUSU Council to decide higher
education policy itself if a “No” vote was returned. Some of those present feared that students might view a second
referendum as OUSU ignoring the result of the first free and fair
vote. Owen claimed “another referendum would confirm the
perception that some people within OUSU are doing everything they
can to avoid implementing the result of the referendum. At the
end of the day a referendum result has a much clearer popular
mandate than OUSU Council ever will.” Helena Puig-Larrauri, OUSU President, was quick to quash
speculation that this might be the end of the referendum result,
saying that F&F was a “greenhouse for ideas” but
ultimately campaigns are committed to OUSU policy. However, OUSU is constitutionally bound to hold a new
referendum if requested by ten JCR or MCR presidents, or 500
ordinary students. Ed Griffiths, who tried to put a motion
through OUSU Council earlier in the term, which would have
allowed it to ignore the referendum result, is believed to be
currently attempting to put such a petition together.ARCHIVE: 5th week TT 2004