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Vacuous Guild Beliefs

Democracy is not a binary state. I would even go as far to suggest that creating a democracy in its purest form, giving an entire population an equal say and control over its own governance, is an im- possible theoretical and practical challenge. I believe that a democ- racy is a concept that a body can only seek to be yet will never truly become.

Given these beliefs that I hold, I would hope most could under- stand why I would think that an organisation which states in their beliefs and commitments that it ‘is a democratic organisation’ with such certainty and overconfidence probably has little value for the concept. Yet this is exactly what the Guild of Students does.

I honestly believe that the Guild’s lackadaisical use of the term is symptomatic of many of the problems it has today. Problems that stem from the charity’s weak understanding of the principles by which it stands coupled with an under-appreciation of complexity and detail.

For example, the Vice-President of Democracy and Resources has recently stated that another Sabbatical Officer’s suspension benefited democracy because the disciplinary policy was voted in by students. His opinion, also implied through his blog, has been consistently voiced by the Sabbatical team through their opposition to Guild Council motions which aimed to change the policy.

Even if you agree with the disciplinary policy (some do) the stance that the Sabbatical Officers hold is indicative of a failure, perhaps even refusal, to publicly rec- ognise opinion that there may be something fundamentally wrong with the disciplinary policy. A policy that allowed an elected officer to be suspended for almost half his term without consulting those who voted him in. That would mean the Guild may not be democratic, but its aims and beliefs suggest that could never be true.

A serious case of an absence of democracy was when a senior member of staff told me that they did not feel accountable to students. I believe it is not the fault of that particular staff member, who later corrected the statement, but it is indicative of the Guild’s fail- ure to train their staff to uphold the principles which it claims to stand by.

I should clarify that these problems are not simple with serious legal difficulties surrounding them. Still, these fundamental issues must be resolved.

So where does Redbrick fit in to ‘Guild Democracy’ and what could we do to better it? I think that we should try to act as any free press should, providing balanced, impartial and responsible journalism. I hope we have achieved this goal this year, and that this edition successfully conveys recent events in such a manner.

That does mean asking tough questions of the Guild, not an easy task as many see us as a Guild publication. Over the years there have been incidents where the Guild, acting as legal safeguard, has evaluated what content we publish based upon how it would affect reputation, not what is legal to publish. We will aim to change that; working with the Guild to do so. I can only hope that our efforts make your Guild more account- able.


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