News YUSU Elections 2018

Presidential candidates discuss arms divestment campaign

As election campaigning continues Presidential candidates voice their opinions on the current campaign to lobby the University to divest from the arms trade.

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As election campaigning continues Presidential candidates voice their opinions on the current campaign to lobby the University to divest from the arms trade.

Candidates have admitted varying levels of support for the current campaign to lobby the University to divest from the arms trade, which was passed after the last UGM. Prior to the UGM a petition was passed around the University, which both candidates Tom Langrish and Tim Ngwena signed. Charles Bushby did not sign the petition, having never come across it, and Grant Bradley admits that he did not sign the petition as he felt that not enough information was available.

As the campaign has now been passed at a UGM whichever candidate is elected will be required to support the cause, something which Langrish is only to happy to do, stating "the students have spoken: over 304 voted yes, compared to the 86 who voted no." Langrish then confirmed that "I support the campaign and as President I will continue to so because it is what the students voted for." Langrish is also particularly impressed with the level of activism which the issue has encourages, commenting that "the protest last Friday was a perfect example of how student activism is alive and kicking and I was so thrilled to listen to such a wide range of students speaking passionately about this issue."

Ngwena, who signed the petition in its early days, echoes Langrish's sentiments stating that "the protest is a good show of students getting together to express their views." He also confirms that "as union and if I was president my job would be to make sure I or we act as a medium of communication between students and the University and them express their views clearly."

Whilst both Bradley and Bushby agree that they would support any motion passed by the student body in a UGM, Bushby is more cautious of the final impacts of any decision. Believing that "the role of the President entails furthering the interests of the University" he argues that decisions need to be considered carefully. Finally Bushby states that if the campaign "does not compromise the interests of the University; both in research and financial terms, then it is something we should support."

Although recognising the importance of supporting a UGM motion, Bradley admits that he "would have preferred to have had more information on alternative proposed investments" before a divestment campaign was passed. Bradley agrees with the basics of the campaign, that the University needs to adopt an ethical investments policy, but he believes that students need to be more informed of the current issues. Like Bushby he argues that "any alternative ethically sound investment must not have an unacceptable negative impact on University finances."

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3 Comment

Jason Rose Posted on Wednesday 21 Aug 2019

"Believing that "the role of the President entails furthering the interests of the University" he argues that decisions need to be considered carefully. Finally Bushby states that if the campaign "does not compromise the interests of the University; both in research and financial terms, then it is something we should support." "

I'd just like to clarify a point. A UGM has powers above and beyond the YUSU President and it is not up to the President to decide whether he (in this case) agrees with the UGM. There will often be cases where Officers disagree with union policy but, well, tough luck. It is voted for by the students and overrules personal opinion. There's no "we should support" about it once it has been passed.

I'm curious to know whether either Bushby or Bradley attended the UGM in question or voted for, or against, it. The motion had plenty of information and the speeches were coherent. There have been plenty of discussions on it and the student *most definitely* had enough information if they wanted it - though the Registrar's misleading words on BBC Radio York weren't helpful (albeit were at 8am so wouldn't affect students!)

Reply

Dan Taylor Posted on Wednesday 21 Aug 2019

Jason, I'm sure you will understand that voting in a UGM is a private act, as is any form of voting in a secret ballot; some of us choose not to vocalise your feelings and opinions quite as much as you do. Charles didn't attend the UGM in question, but has voted on every UGM since he has been a student at The University of York.

What is listed is his election policy. It is a sensible policy. He was asked for his view, and gave his view. Obviously, if mandated by students to campaign for something, then this is what Charles will be doing if elected. However, as you are well aware, the issue of arms is on going and a UGM on the issue next term is not out of the question, indeed it is highly likely.

I direct you to the facebook group supporting continued investment in BAE/Rolls Royce: It now has more members than the disinvestments group. Obviously this is unofficial and the like. However, it does show that opinion continues to be over-polarised on the matter, which is why Charles' position is one of common sense. As the question that was asked yesterday refers to, 'how would one stop small but overly-vocal students furthering their own "left-wing" causes without alienating the rest of the student population' (not asked by me, incidentally). Well, Charles has come up with the answer.

His policy reflects an ethical dimension whilst not alienating those who happen not to view investment in BAE and Rolls Royce as unethical. Additionally, he reaffirms his commitment to furthering the very important financial and research interests of this institution.

Reply

Dan Taylor Posted on Wednesday 21 Aug 2019

Additionally, Mr Rose, if you'd have read the article properly you would have seen this:

"both Bradley and Bushby agree that they would support any motion passed by the student body in a UGM..."

I think it directly addreses your concerns.

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