Back in my own university days, pretty much the only attention that the Student Union paid to its various clubs and societies was to use them as a means of exercising their slightly perverse sense of humour during Fresher’s week.
Fresher’s week, of course, meant the obligatory ‘Fresher’s Fayre’, where the Union bars would be temporarily turned into an kind of jumble sale for interest groups trying to attract new members from the naive and newly unwashed ranks of new entrants, which amounted to little more than give each of the clubs and societies a table to decorate as a ‘stand’ and leave them to get on with it.
The humour in this half-arsed ritual lay in the perverse pleasure that whoever was responsible for allocating these stands took in allocating them in such a way to accentuate the various natural rivalries that existed between certain societies.
So it was that, as a matter of course, all the political societies would be grouped together, with the Tory club flanked on either side by as many hard left groups as humanly possible, leaving the various Trotkyists and Communists with the dilemma of not knowing quite whther they should be arguing with each other or joining forcing to give the Tories in-between a hard time.
Similar arrangements were made in relation to the relgious societies, which inevitiably resulted in the Pagan Society and the Christian Union being parked next door to each other. Chuck in the little matter of putting all the music clubs in the same bar, much to the chagrin of everyone by the Rock Society who were the only club to ever figure out that they could easily dominate proceeding by the simple expedient of hiring a sizeable PA for the event, when all the others relied on whatever portable system one of their members had managed to buy from Dixons over the summer, and you should get the general picture – the purpose of the Fresher’s Fayre was less about recruiting new members to societies and more about building up a nice solid reserve of friction and resentment to take the various clubs through the upcoming year.
I mention all this only as preamble to the latest apparent addition to the annals of ‘it’s political correctness gone mad’, the decision of the Birmingham University Guild of Students to disavow its Evangelical Christian Union and freeze its bank account after its apparent refusal to open up its voting membership to people of all religions.
Now, at other times this might create something of a dilemma – what with me being a committed atheist and no great lover of religions in general. But this is not an issue I find particularly difficult, for as much as I have no particular time for religion, I have even less time for idiotic bouts of hypocritical authoritarian bullshit, which appears to be what’s going on here.
Still, before going off the deep end I thought I’d see if I could find out in more detail what’s actually going on an unearthed this from the Guild’s minutes:
“The Evangelical Christian Union has been derecognised as per TITLE H Appendix VIII Mandatory Clauses of Standing Society and Society Constitutions.
1.3 If there are any contradictions between a Society Constitution and any of the mandatory clauses, the Society shall cease to be recognised by the Guild.
The Evangelical Christian Union constitution limited membership by requiring all members to sign a doctrinal basis and explicitly the mandatory clauses (because the Guild constitution does) require that a society be open to all members of the Guild (i.e. they cannot be prohibited based on gender, sexuality, ethnicity, beliefs etc). Secondly they did not allow all members to run in the elections for their committee, but rather the current committee nominate their chosen successors (and have the capacity should they choose after 2 weeks of advertisement to allow nominations from the rest of the society at their discretion). Again this is significantly different from the clause saying all full members are eligible to run for committee positions in an AGM. Therefore the Evangelical Christian Union (BUECU) was derecognised