GUU continues to affiliate with undemocratic society

Claire Diamond

Glasgow University Union has faced criticism following their decision to re-affiliate Glasgow University International Society, despite warnings from the SRC that the society is undemocratic.

This summer Glasgow’s International Society applied for reaffiliation to the SRC but were refused after GUSRC uncovered that their elections were undemocratic and in breach of their own constitution.  However the society was able to affiliate themselves to the GUU.

The Guardian and the SRC have raised concerns with the GUU about their decision to associate themselves with the society, but Assistant Honorary Secretary Robbie Warke – who is responsible for Clubs and Societies – refused to disaffiliate the society or investigate further, stating that the relationship between the Union and the Society as “mutually beneficial”.

The election for the President and committee of the society took place on 24th August and was in breach of their own constitution, which states that it should take place during term time with 14 days’ notice.  The failure to comply with these regulations meant few members were available to take part in the election.

The society was originally disaffiliated from the SRC in 2011 following complaints from students about trips being mis-sold by the then-president.

Robbie Warke remarked: “I obviously cannot comment on the events of three years ago, as I was not in office at this time. However, I feel that to disaffiliate the International Society now would damage the good work that they do with their 2,000+ members, and limit the opportunities of a very important group of students.”

Vice President of Student Support at the SRC Jessica McGrellis said: “The GUU have their own procedure for affiliating clubs and societies and it is their decision to choose who they affiliate. Having said that, it is frustrating to know that they are still content to affiliate the International Society despite being made aware of the nature of their undemocratic presidential election in August. By continuing to affiliate them they are reducing the incentive for the International Society to have to prove themselves as a legitimate society with the welfare of international students at the centre of their agenda.”

Despite the GUU’s lack of concern, these recent problems have caused concern amongst others directly involved with the international community at Glasgow University, including GUSRC’s international officer Leah Palmer – who encouraged the name to be changed from Glasgow University International Society to Glasgow University Union International Society, in keeping with Queen Margaret Union’s new International Society.

President Colum Fraser commented: “One of our members set up the QM International Society in response to the issue [of the GUIntSoc being undemocratic]. He has obviously suffered from the relative lack of resources and personnel that the GU International Society enjoys. The QMU has refused – in the past – to affiliate the Society in response to both the allegations brought to light by the Guardian and other sources, and a basic lack of correct paperwork on their part.”

Despite innumerable attempts, representatives from the Glasgow University International Society have been unavailable for comment.