Exeposé caught up with Marcel Golten, the organizer of the alternative Question Time, the Socialist Students, Exeter Young Greens to try and make heads or tails of what on earth is going on…
Marcel Golten: “We are organising the event because we believe that student debates should include all voices. Socialists and Freedom represent a large number of students on campus and are often the most entertaining societies to watch debate as they are not bound by party lines. By contrast the PolSoc debate will not only be undemocratic and unrepresentative, but also dull and monotonous.”
“The Greens are boycotting the debate out of support for our cause. As a democratic party they believe that it is right that all voices are heard and they can sympathize with us, after struggling to get fair media coverage themselves.”
Speaking to Joe Levy, the Publicity Officer for the Exeter Young Greens, he told me the Greens were delighted to be invited to PolSoc’s Question time but then faced a dilemma by the exclusion of both Socialist Students and Freedom Society.
“We believe in pluralistic democracy and in order to truly represent that fundamental aspect of our values, we could no longer justify remaining in the debate. Even so, we took it to a vote with our members and ensured that our reasons for the boycott were grounded in our ideology rather than any personal quarrels. Once the members had voted that a boycott was necessary, we had to find a constructive means of representing ourselves while still maintaining our values.
The emergence of the alternative debate was an attractive option and we decided that this would be the most fair and representative forum to pitch ourselves to Exeter students. We are very excited to be taking part in the alternative debate and believe that this kind of peaceful expression of democracy through debate and alternative debate is healthy for both the student body and for the wider concern of freedom of speech. It gives us a real chance, through our representative and president Dan Miles, to debate with two societies that we would otherwise not have had.
It concerned me greatly that some had taken this to a personal level and as a society we express our utter condemnation of this sort of behaviour. We believe that as a society we are conducting ourselves in a mature and principled manner and have found that the most progress has been made through diplomatic dialogue. We had been gravely concerned that we would not have the opportunity to explain our position to the original debate’s audience, however we have now been given a chance to state our position via a representative and then leave, which is a welcome decision.
Ultimately we are glad that people are not just scrutinising the political parties, but also the democratic process under which we all exist. You can only change a system by challenging it. How you do so is up to you, but we have made our challenge.”
And how is this being received by the other societies at the alternative Question Time tonight? Hayden Cooper, Vice President of Exeter Socialist Students, told us more:
“Socialist Students would like to thank the Green Party Society for a variety of things. Firstly, their expression of solidarity with SocStu and Freedom is honestly touching. The decision to exclude two of the largest political societies from the “Political Societies Debate” by PolSoc has been truly baffling; even more so considering the fact they have continually changed their reasoning for doing so.
Initially we were told it was due to the fact the debate would mirror the Candidates Debate, yet when the socialist candidate was included we were still denied a place in the debate. The Greens expressed a wonderful statement of solidarity and formally left the debate. We have since been told it is for affiliated societies only, yet SocStu is TUSC affiliated (which the Exeter Socialist candidate is also).
Accompanying this they have also been intrinsic in creating the “Alternative Political Societies Debate”; a debate where candidates from all major political societies (except UKIP and Lib Dems who refuse to put forwards speakers) are represented. Despite this, PolSoc refuse to remove the Greens from their advertising from the event, even though multiple people and official accounts instructing them to multiple times. I even created a version of their banner without the Green logo [see image above] for them and they still refused to acknowledge the Greens boycott.
Truly if this event has shown anything it has shown that the Greens are a voice for democracy and change within the University, showing support for their rivals and solidarity with fellow students. I invite you all to attend the Alternative debate and to actively campaign openness and democracy on campus.” Exeposé Comment.