Election dispute leaves union without officers

June 29, 2001

Students at the University of North London are concerned that next year their union will have offices and a budget, but no one to represent them.

After a row between the university and the student union, no elections have been held for sabbatical officers.

UNL is responsible for running union elections, normally in early spring, but this year they were not held.

The university and the union blame each other for the situation. The university, which claims the students delayed the elections, issued a statement criticising student officers for the lack of elections and attacking union president Richard Silver.

But the students claim that although the union's constitution was under review, it would still have been possible to hold the elections.

The university said it would "endeavour to conduct early elections in the new academic year" and added that it "continues to welcome and encourage the views of our students regarding our educational provision and of wider political issues".

University secretary John McParland said the university was trying to find a way for union activities such as case work to continue until elections were held. "It is not necessarily the case that the offices will be without staff," he said.

Mr Silver said: "Our students are among the worst affected by issues such as the abolition of grants and they desperately need the services delivered by our officers. For the benefit of our students and the university, it is imperative that elections are held as soon as possible."

The problem is compounded by ongoing merger talks between UNL and London Guildhall University.

Mr Silver said: "It is extremely unfortunate that our students will shortly have no elected representatives, particularly in light of the forthcoming merger with London Guildhall University."

However, Mr McParland was confident that a solution would be found in time. "We are going to have to find a way to ensure there is some representative presence," he said.

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