Organisers of an open letter signed by over 50 student societies representing thousands of Edinburgh students have launched a financial boycott of Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA).
The news comes after EUSA president Niamh Roberts refused to cancel plans to show the World Cup in Teviot in their ‘final’ statement on the matter, shared with The Student this morning.
Leaders of open letter organisers The 93% Club are calling on students to not spend any money at EUSA venues and not use any commercial services provided by the Association until 2023.
Speaking to The Student, 93% Club president and former EUSA president Andrew Wilson said:
“We are calling shame on the Students’ Association’s decision and asking, where are your morals?”
Further, they are organising a protest to be held at Teviot on Sunday 20 November, from 3:30pm.
Lining up with the first World Cup match, The 93% Club said it would be used to hold EUSA to account for their decision to continue with the showing of the matches.
EUSA President issues ‘final’ statement on the World Cup
Roberts’ statement, given to The Student this morning and termed by EUSA PR staff as Roberts’ final follow-up statement on the matter, opened by saying:
“I unequivocally condemn what is occurring in Qatar.
“There is a difficult balance to be found between the impact on our students and the application of our values in the face of global challenges.”
Roberts then discussed the issue of staff working hours, saying that they “would like to emphasise the impact that cancelling the games would have on the staff who rely on their EUSA job for income.”
However, The Student understands that rotas for EUSA staff are generally set two weeks in advance.
This would place the rota assignments for the World Cup in early November, after the first protests around EUSA’s decision to show the World Cup began.
A request for comment made on Wednesday by The Student for Roberts to say when the decision to not issue staff hours for the World Cup would have to have been made by went unanswered.
Also unanswered was a question by The Student asking if the Association was prepared for protests as an outcome of their decision.
Later in the statement, Roberts said “we are using our screening of the matches to share resources and relevant charities in our advertising, which we would not have done had [the open letter] not come through.”
Questions have been raised by prominent figures in the university community to ask why Roberts did not have the foresight to anticipate a backlash against EUSA showing the World Cup.
Qatar’s use of forced labour and decades-long persecution of LGBTQ+ people has been public knowledge for years.
Roberts also said in the statement:
“Instead of addressing specific questions about our finances and governance here, I will be organising an event in early December that any student can attend to ask questions about how the Students’ Association operates.”
The timing of this meeting will place it at least halfway through the World Cup.
On Wednesday, The Student asked Roberts to explain why £9,000 was an unmanageable loss for one of the best financially resourced students’ unions in the UK.
At the same time, The Student also asked them to comment on how EUSA justified the benefits to advertisers posed by the Association showing the World Cup.
The Student has not heard back about either of these questions at time of press.
Edinburgh University Students’ Association has been reached for comment.
Full statement from Students’ Association President, Niamh Roberts
“I unequivocally condemn what is occurring in Qatar. There is a difficult balance to be found between the impact on our students and the application of our values in the face of global challenges. I would like to emphasise the impact that cancelling the games would have on the staff who rely on their EUSA job for income.
“Receiving this call from those who signed the open letter has highlighted two important things to me and others at the Students’ Association. Firstly, this is clearly a very important issue to many in the student body, and as a result, we are using our screening of the matches to share resources and relevant charities in our advertising, which we would not have done had this call not come through. For that, I am grateful, and it underlines the importance of keeping open and active dialogue between students and the Association. Secondly, we want to be clear about our finances and the resourcing of our services.
“Due to a lack of additional financial support from the University and the halting of our commercial services during the pandemic, the Association is in significant financial hardship. We have chosen not to cut back on many services we offer which do not make income – but that are vital to students, including but not limited to work that supports our student groups, the Advice Place, and of course the important engagement events and work our Liberation and Sabbatical Officers do to influence the University. While the block grant does contribute towards the cost of spaces, wages, and resources for students, we also rely on the surplus we make from commercial activity to pay for student services.
“Instead of addressing specific questions about our finances and governance here, I will be organising an event in early December that any student can attend to ask questions about how the Students’ Association operates. This will be separate from Student Council and more information will be coming soon.
“Finally, I want to reiterate that we support anyone’s choice to boycott the World Cup, and will amplify any petitions or causes that students feel are relevant to the injustices in Qatar. We continue to be open to discussions of on-campus and world issues, and our contact details are available on the EUSA website.”
Full statement to The Student by Andrew Wilson, president of 93% Club and 2019-2020 EUSA President
Despite the repeated calls from societies, student groups, members, and elected Liberation Officers for a boycott of the 2022 World Cup, the Students’ Association has chosen the pursuit of income over their morals and values of liberation and solidarity.
We are organising a student protest this Sunday at 3.30pm outside Teviot Row House, where they intend to screen the first game of the 2022 World Cup. We are calling shame on the Students’ Association’s decision and asking, where are your morals?
In conjunction with this, we are calling on students to financially boycott the Students’ Association until the end of the year. If their income is more important than their morals, we will show that students will refuse to support their Students’ Association financially whilst they ignore the human rights violations surrounding the 2022 World Cup.
List of signatories to EUSA open letter
93% Club Edinburgh
PrideSoc – Edinburgh University LGBTQ+ Society
Edinburgh University Film Society
Edinburgh University Northern Society
Edinburgh University Geographical Society
Edinburgh University Classics Society
Edinburgh University Wind Band
Edinburgh University Ocean Advocates (Marine Conservation) Society
Edinburgh University Advocacy Society
Edinburgh University History Society
Edinburgh University Amnesty International Society
Edinburgh University Crafting and Sewing Society
Edinburgh University Fashion Society
Edinburgh University LGBTQ+ Law Society
Edinburgh University Archaeology Society
Edinburgh University LGBT+ Medics Society
Edinburgh University Philosophy Society
Edinburgh University Women in STEM Society
Edinburgh University Geoscience Society
Edinburgh University Baking Society
Edinburgh University Occult Society
Edinburgh University Mathematics Society
Edinburgh University Young Greens
Edinburgh University Photography Society
Edinburgh University Sign Language Society
Edinburgh University Makeup and SFX Society
Edinburgh University Arts & Heritage Society
Edinburgh University Ukrainian Society
Edinburgh University German Society
Edinburgh University Accounting Society
Edinburgh University La French Society
Edinburgh University Blether’s Society
Edinburgh University Arts & Heritage Society
Edinburgh University Architecture Society
Edinburgh University Food Security & Sustainability Society
Edinburgh Labour Students
Edinburgh Political Union
Racism Unmasked Edinburgh
Student Action for Refugees
The Student Newspaper
The Edi Magazine
Widening Participation Medics
The Noisy Movement
People & Planet Edinburgh
Staff Student Solidarity Network