(Featured image via Gustavo Peres, licensed CC BY-NC 2.0.)

On Tuesday evening, the LUSU Executive Committee voted for the Friends of Israel society to review their society application, effectively blocking them from affiliating to the students' union until a revised application is submitted and approved.

Spineless understands that the application categorised the new society as 'cultural', but the Exec wanted clarity on if the society would in reality be more political in nature before they approved the application. The Friends of Palestine society, which is affiliated to LUSU, is categorised as 'international', 'politics', and 'campaigning' according to the societies 'categories' webpage.

Nowhere in the bye-laws is society categorisation even mentioned, so it seems an unsound basis for not approving a society. LUSU's Articles of Association and Student Groups bye-law both dictate the rules affiliated student societies must follow, but neither provide a framework for the society affiliation process. This effectively allows LUSU to arbitrarily refuse a society to be affiliated, with no need to rationally justify their decision. It looks like the refusal to accept the Friends of Israel society's application may be an example of this.

Spineless understands that initial plans to livestream or record Tuesday's Exec meeting were scrapped, leaving students in the dark as to what was actually discussed in the meeting. According to LUSU's bye-laws, the minutes of the meeting 'shall be published for members to access.' But LUSU's lackadaisical approach to following its own bye-laws means the last available Exec minutes are from June 2019. Until LUSU gets its house in order, students will have to rely on Spineless' sources to find out what happens in meetings of their students' union.

Society affiliation requests are normally dealt with by the Societies Committee, chaired by the Activities sabb. The Committee meets in private, its meetings are not minuted, and its membership never publicly revealed. It courted controversy in 2018 by allowing a fascist society to affiliate, a decision that was quickly overturned. Spineless recently revealed that the Committee had secretly allocated LUSU money to subsidise the costs of a controversial (and eventually cancelled) visit from the Israeli Ambassador last year.

In the absence of an Activities sabb following Ben Evans' resignation over the Sugarhouse Scandal last term, responsibility for societies applications transferred to the LUSU Exec. It's unclear if the newly-elected Activities sabb, Victoria Hatch, will re-establish the Societies Committee at a later date.