Setting Up the University of York UKIP Students Society
It is often said that traditional universities such as the red brick universities and the Russell group are filled with extreme-left socialists which seek to turn the students union into their own personal utopia in which only their views can be expressed. Indeed UKIP in some cases is reviled by students , for us as a group York has often proved somewhat hostile in the past. A hall that had a sign that asked for only Conservative or UKIP leaflets in the European Elections was vandalised and the people living in it abused, and a parody twitter account which had such a similar name to ours that it caused confusion was forced to be taken down due to potential misrepresentation.
However York University Students Union (YUSU) has recently ratified UKIP as a society, despite the hostility shown above , YUSU have always been fiercely in favour of free-speech , and shot down the no-platform policy of the NUS in June. For that the union deserves credit (despite the fact that the President of YUSU has been somewhat vocal about his opposition to us). The society is growing , albeit slowly, in an area where the Youth Conservative society is the largest political society on campus.
We aim to campaign hard for UKIP in the coming election, and have already helped arrange for two senior UKIP members to debate in the University (Amjad Bashir and Gwain Towler.) The fact that we can set up a society in one of the Universities where there are real challenges in the form of strong opposition (the Greens and Labour also have a strong presence on campus) shows the change in perceptions of UKIP from a party of “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” to a legitimate party of government, which has a message that deserves to be heard. We are now regularly invited to debate with other parties, and we hope to continue to engage and spread UKIP’s message to as many students on and off campus as possible.
My message to anyone who is thinking of setting up a UKIP society in other universities is to go for it. If we can get a society ratified in the University of York, then I’m sure that it’s possible to get one ratified in any university. There will be critics and even outright hatred shown by some people, but ultimately free-speech will prevail.
Penned by Thomas Turton , Treasurer of the UKIP Association in the University of York