Newly ratified at the end of last year the society has now elected a full committee and is beginning operations in earnest. As RHUL Labour Students president Roxanne Mashari explains this society is Â“the most original political group on campus. RHUL was the only college in the University of London not to have a Labour representation and this has needed changing for some time.Â” Royal Holloway has long been associated with a strong Conservative sentiment, yet Roxanne argues that this does not mean that there is no opposition to this on campus. There has been a long standing residual left wing feeling in Royal Holloway and this has shown itself through more diverse societies, such as People and Planet, Amnesty International Society, and the Socialist Society. So students do see the issues, but not the party. Rather students focus in on certain issues that are dear to them and follow them through whilst rejecting party systems. Â“Students are political over issues, but they donÂ’t identify with parties, they donÂ’t see them as the mechanisms of change they are. We hope to change this on our campus and show our students that there is another way for them to affect change on what they want to.Â”
This is certainly an ambitious target on a campus seemingly infamous for its pervasive apathy set in the middle of a Tory stronghold. Recent scandals and troubles in the government will surely add to the problems of validity for the society, yet Roxanne believes that this is not truly the focus of the society, or indeed of the students on campus. Â“We are great believers in involvement in the local community. Already the pioneering members of the society gained valuable experience helping the local CLP during last years council elections. We went door to door, we went to the count. Democracy in action! We believe that students care about the practical applications in the immediate whilst still acknowledging abstract national problems.Â” She points out safety issues in Englefield Green and bicycling provisions as just two areas that RHUL Labour Students can help. Â“The local council has been Conservative led for time immemorial and they have let students down again and again. Englefield Green should be made safer – lighting should be improved. They know the problems but donÂ’t put in the solutions. The only truly effective measure in recent times is the introduction of PCSOs and this is a Labour measure!Â”
Yet the society aims not to just be a shouting cadre of politicos. Campaigning workshops with Parliamentary staff, tours of Parliament, Q&A sessions with ministers, practical experience at local, regional and national politics are all offered. By being connected to London Young Labour and the national body Labour Students allows the society to give much more support and opportunities to members, and to the campus as a whole. With an organized alternative to Conservative hegemony interesting debates on student and national policy are in the pipeline. The Politics Show on Insanity every Saturday at 3pm now always has a Labour student attending to give their views on the weekly events. Students can now be in touch with the issues that matter to them, articulated by students just like them.
All this will add more students to the wider political world, Roxanne hopes. RHUL Labour Students is the first society to elect an equality officer and this is something very important she states. Â“By electing an equality officer we aim to widen the base of politics. There is a reason why there are fewer minority groups at the highest echelons of government Â– they donÂ’t, or canÂ’t, get involved at the lower ones. We are actively working with other societies such as Freedom and ACS to change this. On a female dominated campus surely there should be more women in our politics.Â”
For better or worse RHUL now has an energetic opposition society. Led by and enthusiastic committee RHUL Labour Students hopes to counter any antagonism or knee-jerk apathy and to bring politics back to the people who are the leaders and workers of the next
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