Why won’t Cambridge University Student Union open its books?

 

th (4)The budget presented to Cambridge University Student Union (CUSU) Council for the academic year 2014-15 contains a glaring omission.

Following the controversy over the salary of the General Manager of CUSU (an unelected member of staff at the Union) in October, you could be forgiven for assuming that the CUSU leadership would clean up their act in this year’s budget.

But rather than address the fact that the General Manager was reported to have an 18% pay rise last year, earning over double the salary of our elected representatives, CUSU seems to have avoided the issue by simply not publishing unelected staff’s salaries in this year’s budget.

This is disgraceful behaviour on the part of the CUSU executive. CUSU exists to defend the interests of students – how can students hold them to account if we don’t know how the executive is spending our money?

This concern has been raised before, both last October by the student press, but more recently at the last CUSU AGM in which a student asked for information about how much CUSU staff were paid. The response from the CUSU President was that the question was inappropriate and would not be answered.

It is fundamental to the democracy of a student union that the leadership open their books up completely to scrutiny by the membership. If the CUSU leadership have made controversial budget decisions, like spending enormous amounts of student money on unelected staff in the CUSU offices, then they must be forced to defend that decision in front of CUSU Council – and if they can’t convince the Council then the decision should be overturned.

CUSU, like many student unions, is engaged in a perpetual battle to engage more of its membership with its activity. A student union that keeps financial secrets from its own students is not one that is likely to win the trust and respect of students. CUSU needs to open its books.

by Cambridge Marxist Discussion Group