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YORK MAY be the next in a list of universities including the likes of Manchester and King’s College London to introduce a Working Class Officer to our student union.
A proposal for the inclusion of a Working Class Officer within YUSU was submitted last week by Michaela Tharby and Jacob Webb. It will be reviewed by the Policy and Review group next term and potentially passed on to the wider student body to decide.
A Working Class Officer position would be responsible for representing working class students and ensuring that the university and student union are taking steps to address the financial hardship and barriers many students encounter at University.
In addition to the role addressing monetary concerns of lower income students, the role is also thought to aim to address attitudes and culture on campus with Manchester Union describing the role as aiming to “bridge the gap between working and middle-class students”. While Chav D last year met its demise in the face of growing student opposition, issues of class division are still a hot topic on campus.
The form a Working Class Officer would take within YUSU, if ‘Working Class Officer’ would be its title and the criteria a student would have to fit in order to stand are divisive topics even among its proponents. Other Students’ Unions have taken a variety of approaches. King’s College asks students to self-define as working class in order to be eligible to stand while Manchester University requires students to either be a recipient of the Manchester Bursary, a care-leaver or the first in their family to go to university in order to stand.
While YUSU would only be the fourth student union in the UK to introduce a working class officer this may be just the start. With a rise in tuition fees around the corner and the cutting of student bursaries it seems that calls for Working Class Officers will only increase.
Should YUSU have a ‘Working Class Students’ Officer’? See our Vision YES/NO debate here.