I find it an odd, if not perplexing narrative to be paraded around that students at Bath are not political, and I also in every single way completely disagree with the sentiment.
From the outset, it is understandable why it might appear that way. Our students aren’t on the whole party political, we don’t ever manage to get the necessary support for party political societies, we are not typically leading protests or demonstrations and policy is a foreign concept to more than most of our student body.
There are explanations, or possible reasons for all of these issues, but I continue to come back to a number of arguments about why our students, our Students’ Union, and our University is political.
In arriving at Bath, each and every one of you has made a decision, an active choice, influenced by a range of actors, ebbs, flows, experiences and perceptions to arrive as a student here. Students reflections on the world around them impacts on the drinks and food you buy, the holidays you agree to go on, the houses you agree to live in and every other decision you make each day.
These decisions are not futile, and not singular. An internalisation of what is going on around you and the resulting action you take is without a doubt a political position. We aren’t talking about explicit politics dictated by complex ideologies and resulting in believing in certain variations of society. We are talking about pre politics, decision making at its most natural, and a form of politics that informs the explicit and shapes the world.
Students at Bath go on to lead industry, and make decisions affecting the world around us that touch lives across continents for now and into the future, so the question is, does being politically explicit matter?
Well, I think it does. I think it is important that you are able to locate your politics as to understand how it impacts in the world.
I don’t however believe that everything needs to come back to those overarching party political sentiments. I believe that for now, if you’ve reached that space, it’s partly your responsibility to support your peers to unpack the political around them. I believe that the Students’ Union gives you the opportunity to spread your wings and discover your political narrative, to challenge the discourses around you and to make sense of the world.
There are two certainties, and the consequences of the decisions you make that I would also like to encourage you to engage with right now.
Firstly, it is that the world around you will continue to affect you, regardless of who you are, where you are and what you are doing. The role you wish to take in affecting this world around you is really your choice, but you shouldn’t neglect the responsibility and privilege we all have to make those decisions.
With that in mind, I beg you to take at least a glancing interest in the current Students’ Union policy round, whether you disagree or not with the sentiments, you have to take your opportunity to engage in shaping the future of your representative body. All the information on this can be found at: http://www.bathstudent.com/your-union/meetings/policies/incoming/.
The other certainty is that all of you will either become, or will be affected by workers, workers and the organisations that workers are employed by. As a worker, your rights to make your voice heard about your role and the roles of others, and the organisation itself should without a doubt be at the heart of its structure. Let’s face it, these organisations do not function without workers, so in a sense, you absolutely are the organisation, in the same sense as you are students whom are the Students’ Union and are the University.
Unionism might well be a concept you have never come across. It is essentially uniting around a collective belief in society, entrenched mainly from the type of work, or worker that you are. This is fairly far removed from the concept of a political party, where individuals and organisations come together and whom believe broadly in the same tactics, solutions and desired end results.
Trade Unions have provided an essential voice for workers across the world, and right now is no different, in fact if anything their value being more important than ever.
On our campus, Trade Unions represent distinct types of worker, broadly the; Academic Faculty, Management and Professional Staff and Technical Staff.
The three Unions are:
With that I’m going to shut up, and let you explore, but if you have any questions, thoughts, ideas or arguments, I would love to hear them.
Jordan Kenny, Bath SU President