By Lewis Martin
Over the last few weeks, UEA Students’ Union has received a number of comments from certain students on social media, complaining about it being ‘political’ and choosing to take political actions such as organising boycotts and funding students to travel to rallies. The SU is also being accused of acting undemocratically for taking these actions. Whilst these accusations are nothing new, in these recent cases the accusers are creating an obscure binary on what the SU can and can’t be seen doing, with a particular focus on only serving certain students’ needs.
The following is an open letter, from a UEA Postgraduate SU volunteer who wishes to remain unnamed, received by The Norwich Radical on 13/03/19. We reproduce it here in full:
It is with deep regret that I write this statement concerning the conduct of one of our elected representatives at the UEA Students’ Union, with whom I’ve worked closely with over this past academic year: Martin Marko, the Postgraduate Education Officer currently standing for re-election. I feel compelled to write this given my responsibility and accountability to postgraduates at UEA as Chair of Postgraduate Committee. While I regret having to comment on Marko’s performance, his lack of professionalism has forced me into a position where either I remain silent and allow him to go unchallenged, or I speak up and make known my experience of working with him this year. It is important for me to make clear that this letter is in no way a comment on the Student Union’s electoral processes nor an endorsement for any other candidate. Nonetheless, given Marko’s decision to stand for re-election, I feel obliged to publish this letter.
The author of this article has asked to remain anonymous.
Earlier this month UEA SU held its annual student officer elections. Whilst some of the results of the election caused surprise in some quarters, I’m less interested in those results than in other aspects of the election process and the story they tell about the state of engagement at the union. First, however, a bit of history and context.