After three weeks of suspension, the leaders of Durham University Labour Club have been fully reinstated as co-chairs, and the SU have clarified their guidance for student societies to allow political campaigns.
DULC were accused of breaking the SU’s charity regulations, which forbade student groups from political campaigning, this came after DULC had organised canvassing for local Labour candidates.
Since the 5th November, DULC co-chairs Jack Pearce and Zoe Haylock were suspended from their positions by the Students’ Union, with interim co-chairs being appointed whilst DULC fought to be allowed to campaign for the Labour Party again.
Zoe Haylock, one of the suspended co-chairs, told Palatinate: “I’m really pleased with the SU overturning their decision, as it means DULC can exist as it supposed to: party political and working to support the Labour party.
“However, I am still annoyed at the SU’s conduct throughout this whole situation. In their email, they failed to acknowledge that our stance was correct or apologise for the inconvenience they have caused us. They are also still making us give two weeks’ notice for canvassing events, but since there is only two weeks left until the General Election, this doesn’t really help us”.
Jack Pearce added: “This latest decision has come very late in the General Election. We will carry on as we were, promoting a socialist and inclusive vision of our country in Durham; it’s so vitally important to do so in Durham University as it is a bastion of privilege in a county which suffers from some of the worst deprivation in the UK”.
Durham Student Union attracted national pressure to review DULC’s ban, with other university Labour clubs such as Loughborough, Goldsmiths and Swansea all expressing their solidarity with the group. National figures all showed support, such as Jude Kirton-Darling MEP and various famous DULC alumni such as Jade Azim.
In his statement, Gareth Hughes, Chief Executive of the Durham Student Union said: “Students voted to change the regulations that govern all Durham SU student groups in spring 2019. The Labour Club was asked to act within those parameters.
“We’re proud of the contribution these groups make to political education at Durham, but the guidance from the Charity Commission is unambiguous and we applied it in good faith.
“We reported the fact that the Labour Club had canvassed and endorsed a candidate to the Charity Commission, and the regulator welcomed our report. They were clear that our reading of the law and regulations was correct, but were comfortable with a broader interpretation of how these rules should be applied in regards to student groups than we expected.
The guidance from the Charity Commission is unambiguous and we applied it in good faithGareth Edwards, Chief Executive of Durham Student Union
“We’re now able to support student groups to undertake activities such as canvassing and making endorsements. Durham SU remains a non-partisan organisation, and has a continuing role to ensure that campaigning societies observe reasonable laws and regulations”.
Ellie Bagley was one of the emergency interim co-chairs appointed, who commented: “It was quite a surprise, I was happy to do it but it wasn’t the best situation.”
Statements issued on DULC’s social media express their satisfaction with the decision, and their plans to now proceed to campaign with as much time as they have before the 12th December election day.
Image by DULC