Brookes students to be Union members

first_imgA student at Oxford Brookes is putting forward a proposal to allow students at the university to become life members of the Oxford Union if they have made a contribution to the society as temporary members.

Kay Thomas was invited to the Union’s weekly Standing Committee meeting on Monday by Claire Handel, an elected member of the committee, to discuss her plans.Thomas, a third year undergraduate, says she was inspired by her grandmother, who graduated from Oxford Brookes last year at the age of 74 and who despite being a passionate supporter of the Union cannot become a life member and enjoy the benefits of the society as an Oxford resident.

“It’s not the case that we want life membership for everyone,” said Ms Thomas.
”We want Brookes students who have participated to have the opportunity after three years [of temporary membership] to submit a request for Life Membership.”

The scheme has been suggested in the past but never gone beyond the planning stage. A detailed proposal will be made next week at Standing Committee and a vote taken by its members, before being passed to the chamber.

Despite widespread approval for the plan, Thomas asserted the need to be scrupulous in her proposal, and set out clear specifications for the Life Memberships. “We’re going to set down specific rules for the procedure so that everyone knows what they’re voting on,” she said.

The Senior Treasurer, Stephen Dixon, agreed with the principle of giving Life Memberships to certain students at Brookes, so long as they had made a commitment to the Union, but expressed some doubts, “it is in our agreement with OLDUT [the charitable governing body of the Union] that their charitable purpose is for the benefit of Oxford University.”

Both Thomas and Handel expressed their conviction that the proposed Life Memberships would be beneficial for the Society and its reputation – among Oxford Students as well as those at Oxford Brookes. Handel said, “If this goes through it will hopefully encourage more Oxford Brookes students to come down and enjoy what the Union has to offer. There is no reason why Brookes students should not be offered the opportunity to apply for life membership, the Union wants to be acknowledged as an inclusive society and this is one way in which it can start working towards this.”The Oxford Union is rarely publicised within the Oxford Brookes campus, something that Thomas wants to change. She has cited lack of awareness as a key factor in the fact that it has taken so long to set the ball rolling.

Another student at the forefront of this proposal is Penny Sainsbury, who has submitted a passionate written statement to the Union’s Standing Committee.

“My membership of the Oxford Union has been the most rewarding element of my time spent living and studying in Oxford,” she writes. “Attending debates and speeches has given me a valuable avenue into my intended future career. After a talk [at the Union] last year I had the opportunity to speak to a Managing Director of a leading PR firm in the city; from this conversation I was able to formally apply and then go on to secure a month’s placement at the firm. 

“The Oxford Union has therefore presented me with my first opportunity to experience my intended career as well as enabling me to listen to and often meet the people shaping society – its impact has been invaluable!”last_img read more