The loss of the Hetherington Research Club (HRC) has been felt keenly over campus, and by the University’s graduates, but it is clear that the closure was necessary in light of the trouble in which it found itself.
The outgoing members of the HRC Committee of Management (CoM) are to be commended in their efforts to bring the Club’s problems to the attention of the University. A question still hangs over why previous committees felt it acceptable to keep quiet, as it is clear that the Club’s difficulties have been building for at least a year.
The issues highlighted in the committee minutes demonstrate that there were serious problems not only with the Club’s finances, but in its day-to-day running as well. The new president and his committee will have to work hard to prove to the University that these mistakes will not be allowed to happen in the future.
It was only two years ago that the GUU found itself in even worse financial strife, although, unlike the HRC, it was able to secure a crisis grant from the University before it was forced to cease trading. It is possible that, had the former committee members of the Research Club blown the whistle earlier, the business’s closure could have been prevented.
If the University is expected to absolve the debts of its so-called arm’s length institutions then it should be making more effort to ensure each of these institutions’ finances are properly managed and audited. Its budget in the coming years will be under enough pressure without having to be relied upon for bail-outs as well.
A club dedicated to postgraduate, international and mature students is hugely important — not every student feels comfortable at either of the unions; and Cheesy Pop and the Hive are not to everyone’s taste. For this reason, we must hope that the new CoM can work to regain the trust of the University and that the Hetherington Building will be able to open again before it is forgotten.