Editorial: Union members should be very, very angry

The Union’s refusal to publish its expenditure records is both morally and constitutionally unacceptable.

The constitution of the Union explicitly states: “All income and expenditure records will be available for inspection by any member”. So the Union has a formal duty to tell its members how their money has been spent The obvious question is: why won’t they release this information?

If the financial practices of the organization are perfectly acceptable to its membership, why can’t the membership know what they are?

Hacks have no right to members’ money. It is no defense to claim that as members of a voluntary student society, hacks require extensive rewards for sacrificing their time.

What is objectionable is that resources of the Union’s offices could be being grossly abused – and there is no way for ordinary members to know.

What is objectionable is that thousands of members’ pounds have been spent on frivolous expenses such as invite-only drinks events, dinners that cost £30 per head, rooms and suites booked at the Randolph when cheaper alternatives are available, the redecoration of the President’s office and “farewell debates” that are nothing but excuses for Presidents to use the resources of the Union to give his or her friends a free night out.

For decades, the Union has operated as a politicised drinking club for a limited number subsidised by a mass of membership. The extent of this subsidy must be known, and the claims of individual members justified.

Union officials believe that they are entitled to spend members’ money because they have succeeded in reaching the top. This is simply not true. They should be held accountable for the money they have spent, and their finances scrutinised by its membership – not by an unelected Bursar who is dependent on hacks for her job, and a Financial Committee composed of hacks to aim to one day be in receipt of the spoils of higher offices.

Equally worrying is the power of the Union’s unelected bursar. Responsible only to the hacks whose finances she rubber-stamps, she has not only obstructed members’ exercise of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to inspect the society’s finances, but she won’t release the nature of her accounting practices to those to whom she is paid to support.

Here is a clear message to Union staff: the funds you are spending are not your own. You have not earned this money. You are not entitled to take advantage of regular members. Perhaps Josh Roche believed that, because he had hacked his way to the top, he had thereby earned the £2,058 he claimed in personal Presidential expenses. Perhaps he felt that the voluntary sacrifice he had made to take up the burden of the Presidency deserved this massive financial repayment.

What is even more suspicious is that this figure was £4,075 a week prior to OxStu’s investigation. Union members who want to know how their money is being spent should email Laura Winwood, President of the Union, citing Rule 63b. She is formally obliged to tell you within ten working days.

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