The second-ever iteration of The Lancaster Exchange has been announced by Lancaster University. The Lancaster Exchange replaces University Court, which was abolished in 2018. The purpose of Court was to bring together a large number of representatives from across the local community, from MPs to sixth form students. For the University, however, it represented an aberration and a nuisance that often, embarrassingly, found itself in opposition to the wishes of University management.
The Lancaster Exchange 2020 will be taking place on 12th March at Lancaster Town Hall, from 5pm to 8pm. Tickets can be acquired on Eventbrite, here.
This year's event will host members of the Eden Project North team, who will talk about 'place-based collaboration'. Attendees will be in for a riotous time, as they will then split into discussion groups to discuss one of three themes: Healthy, Prosperous, and Sustainable. The discussion groups will then wrap up and take part in an 'interactive feedback session'.
Spineless doubts very much that topics like fossil fuel divestment, the 2010 closure of the on-campus 24-hour Nurse Unit, or the need for the radical democratic reform of University decision-making will feature on the agenda. Even if they do, The Lancaster Exchange occupies no constitutional role in the University and cannot pass motions, to formally refer issues to University Council unlike University Court.
It's perhaps one of the saddest of recent years' anti-democratic 'reforms' in Lancaster, that the independent and assertive Court has been replaced by the powerless and performative Exchange. In October, the students' union AGM voted overwhelmingly for the University to re-establish Court, but we still await a formal response from the University.
As subtext reported after the inaugural Exchange last year:
...if management really publicises next year’s meeting, makes the topics for discussion a little less boilerplate, and involves the students a lot more, it could be really very good indeed.
Given the topics chosen for discussion, and the glaring lack of publicity, Spineless fears that if all goes according to management's plans, this year's Exchange will be as uneventful as the last.