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Student Union stands behind student protests

By River Reporter Oct 11, 2012

Kingston Student Union stands behind the November 21 student protests. 

Joe Stanley-Smith

Kingston University Students’ Union has thrown its weight behind the November 21 student protest, but has raised eyebrows by putting members of the Conservative Society on the organising committee.

They have also encouraged students to attend the TUC national demonstration against fees and cuts a week on Saturday, October 20.

“I am whole-heartedly asking Kingston Students to join Kingston and march on London on November 21,” said KUSU president Sean Kelly. “Likewise, NUS are supporting the TUC march on October 20, as are we.”

KUSU have set up an organising committee for the November 21 NUS student protest, consisting of two Kingston students from the Labour Society, two from the Conservative Society and two from the Socialist Workers’ Society.

Kingston Education Activist Network (EAN), the society which set up the biggest protest ever seen in Kingston in 2010 over tuition fees, and has taken students to Central London and Manchester to protest over cuts, was not invited to the organising committee.

Stuck with the Tories

The EAN collected 120 signatures in two hours on a petition demanding that the Tories be taken off the committee, enough to trigger an emergency meeting of KUSU. However, they have now conceded that the Conservative Society are there to stay.

“Nobody in the first meeting wanted the Tories on the group, apart from the one Tory who turned up,” said Francesca Manning, president of Kingston SWSS and EAN secretary. “But all SU officers apart from two voted to keep the Tories in. They’re being very undemocratic.”

The Tory Party and society are pro-education cuts, so giving them two places on the steering committee for an anti-government, anti-tuition fees protest presents a clear conflict of interest.

Luke Hilton, president of the KU Conservative Society, who will be on the organising team, said: “My colleague and I will not be trying to stop the demonstration from happening because that defeats the object of freedom of speech.”

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