College Committees Fuel Split Speculation After Open Letter to YUSU

The College Committees' open letter lays bare gripes with YUSU's administration of their activities

College Committee Chairs have slammed YUSU’s organisation and staff in an open letter addressed to YUSU released earlier today.

The letter, signed by the chairs of all 8 undergraduate colleges, bemoans three main issues that they have with YUSU’s administering of their committees: the finance system, the ticketing system, and communication with YUSU.

The YUSU Finance Office is a much maligned part of the YUSU system with many societies and clubs finding the system irritating.

Alex Ward, President of OutdoorSoc, told York Vision: “The YUSU finance system never fails to surprise.

“Sometimes it stops working, and events don’t appear, or they appear without tickets, to the joy of those running the events.

“And then you hear the great news of them creating a new system to manage tickets, and just like that you can’t create events at all.”

This year alone, the Finance Office has made two fundamental changes to how it works, transitioning from an online system using a dedicated website to using a more rudimentary Google Form.

Despite being administered by YUSU, the Junior Common Room Committees/College Students’ Associations stand as entities on their own and this very public display of disaffection is likely to fuel rumours of the JCRCs and CSAs splitting from YUSU all together.

A split with YUSU could potentially cost YUSU dearly as they currently receive a large sum from the University of York for their management of these committees.

The relationships between the colleges and YUSU is now likely to be a hot button issue for the upcoming YUSU Elections, particularly for the election of Union President, a role which has been filled by a college committee char for 8 of the last 9 years.

The Union is preparing a response to the letter expected on Tuesday 11 February.

The full text can be read below:


To whom it may concern,

As you may have noticed, there have been many issues raised in regard to the relationship between JCRCs/CSAs and the Students’ Union. This open letter contains some initial ideas for improvements to overcome these differences. It is important to note that this is to open a channel of dialogue with YUSU and give constructive feedback to the Students’ Unions staff, not a criticism of the performance of the YUSU Sabbatical Officers. There are inherentsystematic issues in the Students’ Union that need to be addressed; the bureaucracy within YUSU is fundamentally flawed, unhelpful and incompatible with colleges. As a Students’ Union it should truly represent students.

The financial system is the main concern that we – the Chairs and Presidents of the College Committees – are facing at the moment. We acknowledge that changes have been made, but these are nowhere near to meeting our expectations. We would like to be able to use money straight away, since waiting for at least three days cannot just cause monetary problems for students, when they have to disburse large sums for the JCRC/CSA, but it can also cause pressure on the students’ well-being. We are aware that there have been issues regarding theft in the past when bank accounts were available to the committees but are sure that a better system could be put in place. It would also put the strife of us not being able to make our own purchases aside and simplify the process of separating our finances, as well as giving us the opportunity to handle VAT repayments in a better manner.

Furthermore, the current ticketing system needs improvement in our opinion, especially when it comes to releasing tickets. It was very tiring and arduous for us to justify why our Refreshers tickets were not released in time and unfortunately this was not a one-off delay but happened earlier already. To add to this, some colleges’ tickets were also oversold costing them additional last-minute funds, for which YUSU failed to offer compensation or a valid explanation. Further, the booking fee added by YUSU on their payment platform is not valid in our opinion, since it costs students more for no additional value. It is also frustrating to not be able to see ticket sales as a live feed – this lack of transparency is present in much of YUSU’s interaction with college run events.

It has become evident that YUSU is neglecting the development and maintenance of college sports. Again, this is not an attack on the work of the sabbatical officers, there are systematic issues with the way that YUSU in general manages college sport and prioritises university sport. College sport should be inclusive to everyone and coherent throughout all colleges.

Another issue that concerns us is the communication with YUSU in general. Although we are a university institution, we feel disenfranchised as such. Having so much contact with YUSU but only being in one meeting a term with the university makes it hard for all of us to establish the status of college committees and promote our values in the ways we deem best. We are being treated like a society whilst in reality we represent the entirety of undergraduate students of the University. In general, there are promises made which are not kept and this discourages us from doing our voluntary work and since we are trying to find our place in between the Students’ Union and the University, it is vital for us that our standpoints are represented.

We hope that you understand our concerns and look forward to working with you on changes that can be implemented to both of our advantages.

Thank you for your time,

James Harrison – Langwith College President
Dylan Wallis – Derwent College Chair
Sophie Schulze – James College Chair
Stephen Stanley – Goodricke College Chair
Olivia Furness – Alcuin College President
Henry Wright – Halifax College President
George McCormick – Constantine College President
Vera Ivanova – Vanbrugh College Chair