The Union is there for all our members and we will work with them to help support activity and deliver against a very broad remit of student experience including the areas of representation, political engagement and social activity that has been raised in this open letter. The way we are currently organised and the way we have found so far to be the most effective method of achieving this is for that activity to be supported through our active clubs and societies. It does not mean we cannot or will not support individual projects, but the way we are set up is to maximise our activity for the benefit of as many students as possible, and we do this through organising like-minded students into groups so they can work together and benefit from a collective approach.
We do run commercial activity but we operate the activities with value for money, student experience, and safety at the heart. We run events (as best we can) that appeal to as broad an audience as we can, and we also run events that are tailored at much smaller niche groups. This year we invested significantly in the top section of the Academy, developing our Bar 2 venue which is designed to allow much smaller events specifically aimed at special interest groups or ideas that needed development and nurturing, to happen without members feeling that they are sprawled across the whole of the nightclub and for the event to be devoid of atmosphere. Whether driven by our clubs, societies, staff team or individual students, we are always wanting to deliver a varied entertainments programme that is relevant to our membership and encourage all our members to feedback to us through our Ents Forum meetings or directly to our Entertainment coordinator, so we can build a programme that is current, exciting and value for money.
I also wanted to comment on the issue of Student apathy in politics. We do encourage debate through our various societies, which are open and accessible to all, and political engagement is I think at a stage which we have not seen for many years. At the last round of Local Authority elections we saw 15 students all very recent graduates, standing for election in the borough and representing a range of political parties which we see as a positive demonstration of political confidence and empowerment being developed on campus. This year we are currently actively lobbying the Local Authority to bring a ballot station to campus for the next general election, and a petition is online to show student support for this initiative. Later this month we will also be launching our Election pages within our website. This is a really exciting initiative that has been developed by NUS and allows students, who are in a very unique position of being able to register either at home or at their place of study, the opportunity to scrutinise national data in every constituency and be able to make a choice on where to register for their vote for it to be most effective.
Lastly I wanted to touch on the issue of censorship raised in this letter. The Union does have a final veto of any article within the newspaper (Le Nurb) for one reason and one reason only. The Union is the funder and the publisher and is therefore responsible for the content and the impact that content has and will be the body that is pursued if any of those articles break the law, or brings the Union into disrepute, not the journalist. When we have used the veto, we have done so with great care and consideration.
One thing I can certainly agree with the author of the letter is that any organisation, including the Union, is always at risk of becoming stale or irrelevant if it doesn’t continually evolve and improve, and I have no doubt that there is significant improvement that we can make in many areas of our organisation. This month will see us put out a new governance structure to Referenda, which is aimed at enabling us to be better representatives, harness the collective voice of each college, provide a stronger voice for Post Graduate students and develop opportunities for debate and feedback on specific areas of our operation without the need for a student to feel they need to get involved in a long term elected position or wade through acres of red tape. I hope that you will all read our proposals which will be published next week and will vote for this change when the referenda opens later this term. Feedback is crucial to us delivering a better and more responsive Union, but from the authors need to publish an open letter in our newspaper it is evident that our feedback processes need some improvement. With that in mind, we have launched our new feedback form on our website which enables feedback to be in one place, that can easily be tracked and does not have the cumbersome approach of our formal complaints process that has put people off in the past. If any of our members want to give us feedback whether that be good or bad, or just an idea I urge you to visit our new feedback section of the website at www.brunelstudents.com/feedback
This article is a response to an anonymous letter to the Union Of Brunel Students, published in Issue 2 of Le Nurb on 10th of November 2014. You can read the original letter to the union here.