RUCA Campaign Secures 24 Hour Library

Press Release (Immediate Release)

Following a year of campaigning by students, the University of Reading announced on 26th November that its library will operate 24 hours a day from April 2014.

The Library 24 campaign, started in Autumn 2012 by Reading University Conservative Association (RUCA), attracted over 1000 signatures, the support of local MPs and received widespread attention from the student body and university staff.

The campaign, which sought to secure 24 hour library operation, was launched in response to the extremely limited working hours in place in the run up to this announcement. The stated aims of the campaign were to make the library more accessible for students who work early in the morning, during the day and late at night; and to create a central learning hub offering the quality of opportunity expected from a world top 1% university charging the maximum £9000 per year tuition fees.

The Library 24 campaign was conducted online, through social and print media, and crucially through action days on campus, where members of RUCA distributed information about the campaign and how to get involved. It ran from Autumn 2012 for a full academic year, which resulted in a trial of a 24 hour library during summer examinations. Library 24 was then re-launched in November 2013, demonstrating the renewed effort and persistence from students to press its university on this important matter.

The campaign received the backing of the local Member of Parliament (Reading East), Rob Wilson MP in late 2013, who described Library 24 as “a great grassroots campaign that was started only a short time ago. For a student run petition to gain over 1,000 signatures shows both the level of support for a 24 hour library and the level of dedication that its campaigners have shown. “24 hour access to the library will mean a better quality higher education offering, which will be beneficial to both students and the University. It is also right that a university that is in the top 1% in the world rankings should provide a similar service to other top ranking universities in the country”.

The Executive Committee of RUCA released the following statement: “The announcement that a 24 hour library will operate from April 2014 is a major victory for students. This will significantly improve the quality of learning at Reading University, and provides much better value for money for students. We are delighted that the university has listened to our campaign and responded to student feedback so positively”.

END

Record Numbers at Freshers’ Fayre 2013

This year’s Freshers’ Fayre, held on Wednesday 2nd October, proved to be yet another remarkable feat for Reading University Conservative Association, who recruited record numbers to join the organisation: far beyond that of other student political groups at the university.

RUCA is this week welcoming over 200 members from across the country who signed up to engage in weekly activities, ranging from informal debates to conferences in London and hearing from Secretaries of State at RUCA’s very own events.

The Conservative Association, one of the UK’s most well known of its type, is now almost three times larger in size than the Labour Society, its nearest competitor – a statistic which bucks the national polls. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats and Greens are nonexistent due to a lack of support, and are instead in the process of trying to recruit pledges of interest from students so that the societies can be re-launched.

The Association was also visited by Rob Wilson, Member of Parliament for Reading East, who took questions from his student constituents on the day, and helped man RUCA’s stand within the Fayre.

RUCA is now in the process of finalising its plans for the Autumn Term in order to take account of the mass new intake, and will be holding its introductory event on Monday 7th October.

James Caldecourt, President of the Association, said “this is an all-time record for RUCA and we are delighted with the outcome of this year’s recruitment drive. This has cemented our reputation as the most dominant political group on campus, who is able to really affect change in order to improve student services at the university. Last year we successfully campaigned for a 24 hour library and against joining an NUS anti-cuts march; we hope to be able to announce this year’s priority campaigns in the coming week”.

RUCA is one of the largest societies at the university and the only political student group to hold the prestigious 5 star status in the Students’ Union recognition scheme. Hosting weekly events throughout the academic year, the Association offers a wealth of opportunities for members to develop political thought, meet new people and be a powerful campaigning force within the university. The Association is free to join and is open to all conservative-minded individuals.

Further information can be found at www.RUconservative.com or by finding us on Facebook (/RUconservative) or Twitter (@RdgUniTories).

Social Action with Rob Wilson MP & Reading Job Fair

Reading University Conservative Association (RUCA) volunteered with their Patron and MP for Reading East, Rob Wilson at the Reading Job Fair on 25th April 2013.

The Job Fair, organised by Rob Wilson MP, had over 50 businesses looking to employ job seekers from around Reading.

 

Members of RUCA volunteered to help direct visitors to employer stands, were on hand for answering queries and other tasks as required to aid the smooth running of the event.

The Social Action scheme, a Conservative Party initiative. Click for more details.

This was the first of RUCA’s Social Action projects, an initiative set up by the Conservative Party, which describes it being “about people working together, taking responsibility for their local area and helping to create the society that we want to live in by doing the little, practical things that together can add up to big social change.” Indeed, the Prime Minister has commented that “Social Action demonstrates visibly and unarguably that locally-driven positive change is possible if people are willing to roll up their sleeves and get involved”.

Rob Wilson said “having run four Job Fairs, now I look forward with great anticipation to what promises to be another huge success. Every Job Fair has been met with huge levels of enthusiasm both from local businesses and in the community. Not only will this Job Fair offer an opportunity for employers and job seekers, but it will also provide apprenticeships for young people who have faced the biggest challenges in the jobs market.”

For more information on the Job Fair itself, follow the Facebook page here or contact Rob’s office on 0118 375 9785.

Media contact: secretary@RUconservative.com

Taking Library 24 to the next level

The Library 24 campaign, launched by Reading University Conservative Association in November, has encountered considerable success in applying pressure on the university to move towards offering a 24 hour library on campus. This will now be trialled over the examinations season.

The Executive Committee of RUCA reaffirm the Association’s goal to secure this level of service all year round and will continue to press for this action throughout the summer and autumn terms of 2013.
The petition has now reached 1000 signatures. This is a huge success considering the campaign has been independent of any RUSU support since its beginning. If you haven’t yet signed the petition, please help the cause and do so NOW! It’ll only take 30 seconds: https://www.change.org/petitions/library-24


We are very pleased that the campaign has been endorsed by the local Member of Parliament, Rob Wilson, who said “ this is a great grassroots campaign that was started only a short time ago. For a student run petition to gain over 1,000 signatures shows both the level of support for a 24 hour library and the level of dedication that its campaigners have shown. As a former Reading University student, I am happy to support this campaign in any way that I can. 24 hour access to the library will mean a better quality higher education offering, which will be beneficial to both students and the University. It is also right that a university that is in the top 1% in the world rankings should provide a similar service to other top ranking universities in the country“.

The report from Rob Wilson’s office is available to view here: http://www.robwilsonmp.com/news/rob-shows-his-support-24-hour-student-library-access

RUCA Pays Tribute to Baroness Thatcher

The Rt Hon. The Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS

Margaret Thatcher was without doubt one of the strongest and most influential leaders that this country has ever had, and her successes as Prime Minister were mirrored in her unparalleled electoral victories.

In addition to being the first woman to hold this office, she redeemed Britain from being the “Sick Man of Europe”, returning it to a leading world power; defended the Falklands from Argentine fascism  brought an end to the Unions’ strangle hold that was throttling the UK; empowered thousands through the “Right to Buy” scheme; had a leading role in bringing down the Berlin wall and ending the Cold War; negotiated the European rebate, and countless other great achievements for our country.

While no single statement can hope to do the great Lady justice, members of Reading University Conservative Association and Reading Conservative Future have written their own tributes:

 “Lady Thatcher not only changed the face of our country, but the very fabric of life in Britain; indeed, her influence has been felt across the western world. Her domestic successes, particularly in unleashing the power of private enterprise and promoting the role of the individual, have become the foundations of the Britain in which I have grown up. Just as Lady Thatcher was unquestionably a towering political presence, she has been the most inspiring figure to young people involved in conservative politics, and that is perhaps the greatest testimony we can give.  This is of course a sad day for the nation, but those of us who truly understand the gravity of her achievements should take solace in the fact that history will judge her well”.
James Caldecourt (RUCA President).

“Margaret Thatcher has been a hero of mine for many years. Intelligent, able, determined and above all patriotic, Maggie had an air of authority and dignity that allowed her to lead this country out of its darkest days since the war. She defended the country from threats from both outside and inside the country, and will go down in history as the woman who dealt the fatal blow to socialism. The Great Lady’s love for her country was always her driving motive and she will always be an inspiration to us all. I believe that history will judge her as the great figure that she was”.
Tom Puddy (Chairman, Reading CF).

“Margaret Thatcher’s continuous commitment to traditional conservative values during her service to this country has always been a source of inspiration, particularly in a new century which has witnessed the unfortunate triumph of immediate populist policy-making over a carefully considered vision of elected governance.  Her promotion of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, creating a workable environment in which to both hunt down the murderous terrorists of the IRA, and to begin a long-term process of reconciliation with the Republic of Ireland, the British State and the once oppressed Catholic minority of Ulster was a masterful yet often underrated part of the resolution of conflict in Northern Ireland.  Her constant advancement of individual freedom, not just in and for Britain, but throughout the world, should always be an issue of pride for us, as should her commitment to the independence of this great nation and our willingness to promote and defend the values we love across the seas”.
Christopher Williams (Former RUCA President).

“Despite not having lived during Margaret Thatcher’s years as prime minister, I firmly believe that I have witnessed and experienced her legacy. She successfully revolutionised the country that she loved to the extent that successive prime ministers have attempted to emulate her strength, courage and determination. Lady Thatcher not only created a country where those who aspired to achieve greatness could do so, she laid the foundations for future generations to reap the rewards of her reforms.
Although a divisive and controversial leader, Lady Thatcher led with real ability and confidence when building a Conservative party capable of restoring the country to its former glory. As prime minister she fought for freedom and liberty not just at home but across the globe, to provide the freedom enjoyed in the UK to millions around the world. Her work is admired by many, and the messages of admiration from world leaders today give us an insight as to how influential she was on the global stage. This morning we lost a true pioneer domestically and internationally, she will be greatly missed”.
Andrew Knight (RUCA Vice-President).

“Margaret Thatcher has been my greatest inspiration in politics. Being the first and still only female Prime Minister and climbing from her grocers background to the highest office in the country demonstrates just how remarkable she was. Having been returned as PM three times by the British public, she achieved great things, turning the country around and instilling pride in everyone. Her hard work and determination should be admired and will always be remembered.”
Emma Willis (RUCA Treasurer).

“Baroness Thatcher was a pin up politician, a feminist icon, and without a doubt, the most successful, powerful and headstrong leader this country has ever had.
She is a wonderful example of strength and character, who inspired many and will continue to do so for generations to come. As a country, we are deeply in debt to her and it is with great sadness that we have seen her passing, but her memory and impact will certainly live long with us and with the whole world.”
Rosalind Wise (RUCA Secretary).

“Margaret Thatcher will always be remembered as Britain’s first, and so far only, female Prime Minister, an undeniably monumental achievement that will never be relinquished. She removed Britain from a broken, battered shell, on its knees and held hostage by corrupt and tyrannical Union leaders such as Arthur Scargill and Derek ‘Red Robbo’ Robinson which made the 1970s a dark, regrettable and helpless time for this country. She left the country, as many will agree, in a better place. A Greater Britain. A country standing bravely tall and defiant in Europe, in an ever-strengthening relationship with the United States and building bridges previously burnt by Communism with the new Russian Federation and much of Eastern Europe. Formidable on the political stage and kind in person, Britain has lost one of its greatest ever leaders”.
Edgar Johnson (RUCA Political Officer)

Baroness Thatcher was Prime Minister for over eleven years. She sat in the Commons for over thirty years and subsequently in the Lords for over twenty. It is needless to say that during her political career Margaret Thatcher stood up for the interests of this nation at every possible opportunity. Baroness Thatcher acts as an inspiration to all young people, regardless of their political persuasion; we should all aspire to follow her dedication to public service. May the Iron Lady rest in peace.
Mark Kelleher (President-Elect, Reading University Students’ Union).

 

RUCA voices student opinion but is shunned by RUSU and Spark*

Reading University Conservative Association members attended the student consultation on the proposed changes to university term times earlier in the spring term. Members of the Association were concerned about the ideas put forward by the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning (PVC) and the fact that this session was billed as a consultation with students, yet the relevant decisions had clearly already been made.

Owing to demand from the members of RUCA, our committee decided that the best course of action would be to write an open letter to the PVC, published in student newspaper, Spark*, to raise their concerns. This open letter was sent to the editor in the hope it would be published – after all, Spark* is supposedly a newspaper for the students, run by students; scrutinising the Students’ Union and the University in our name.

RUCA received no reply whatsoever from Spark* or the Students Union after a month of waiting and reminding both bodies of our request. The committee therefore attended “Student Officer Scrutiny” to voice our concerns that the opinions of students were being cast aside if they sought to openly disagree with university policy.The reply received from the head of student media and Spark* “Editor in Chief”, Ceri Jones, was highly unsatisfactory. She noted that she received RUCA’s email but failed to provide an explanation as to why no acknowledgement was issued, and why the letter has not been published in Spark* to date.

We will continue to voice our opinion on the term time changes, relying on our own media channels, and we will be sending a copy of the open letter to the PVC directly. Should we receive the courtesy of a reply this time around, we will of course let our members know the outcome.


Perhaps more importantly -and timely considering today’s news on press regulation- is the issue that our student newspaper and media outlets are far from independent. Indeed they are under the total and direct control of the relevant RUSU Executive Officer (this year, VP Democracy & Campaigns; next year the Student Engagement Officer). Surely Reading students deserve a newspaper that is truly run by students and provides an effective means of scrutiny?

We are hopeful that the new RUSU administration will attend to this issue with a view to avoiding the appliance of undue pressure from above.

Here’s a copy of our letter:SIR – We believe that the university is attempting to implement sweeping change, without conducting a proper listening exercise with its students. Earlier this term, a “Student Voice” meeting was held where the concerns of students were expressed in large numbers. Responses from the PVC were dismissive and fundamentally uninterested in truly considering students in the process of change. In fact, the relevant consultation document states that the University’s “Working Group” had already agreed that, “maintaining the status quo was not an option”. This is not a transparent consultation to improve the university in the best way, but a veneer of democracy in the process of bringing about change for its own sake.

These changes are of concern to many students, and yet, thus far, very little credible reasoning has been provided. The principle argument seems to be a matter of “keeping up with” other universities. However, the UK’s leading universities, including Warwick, York, Durham and Oxford have a similar, if not exactly the same, term structure as us at Reading. Surely our university should not bring about change simply because we are following others? Let us stick to the teaching methods that have been tried and proven – after all, why fix what isn’t broken?

Students require proper consultation, where their feedback is used to inform the decision-making process, not as a prerequisite for continuing regardless. Perhaps the PVC also needs to provide greater clarity on his reasoning.

On behalf of the members of Reading University Conservative Association.

Update: you can see the reply from Spark* here

RUCA VP to be next RUSU President


On Friday 1st March, Mark Kelleher was elected as President of Reading University Students Union – the first Conservative President in many years.

Mark at the beginning of the campaign period, February 2013.

Mark was formerly Senior Vice-President of Reading University Conservative Association and was supported by RUCA throughout his campaign, many of its members joining the campaign team itself. This is being hailed as a major victory by the Association, and has received acclaim nationally.

The election win is an extraordinary feat, considering RUSU’s reputation as being one of the most left-wing student unions in the country. Reading students and alumni recall the immature stunt played by RUSU against our Patron Rob Wilson MP in 2011. A previous RUSU President, his name was covered with the words “Sell Out” on the former Presidents’ board inside the union building following the rise in tuition fees.

Furthermore, RUSU is one of the larger contributors to membership of the National Union of Students, and has a long history of playing an active role in national demonstrations.

Mark’s policies included giving JCRs greater independence, student societies a guaranteed basic level of funding, and continuing the Conservative Association’s “Library 24” campaign: the movement for a 24-hour library on campus. James Caldecourt, Campaign Manager and President of RUCA attributed much of Mark’s success to his manifesto policies, which were “straightforward to understand, viable to implement and responded to student demand”.

The main poster used during the Mark For RUSU campaign.

The campaign also fought for better facilities on campus, including an intention to reduce the number of unisex toilets on campus, especially in the library. This was in response to student demand, with many students, particularly women, reporting that the current situation makes them feel very uncomfortable. Alas, Mark was labelled by some on the campaign trail as transphobic, despite having discussed the issue with the University’s LGBT society, who were quite satisfied with the proposals and believed that the policy was not unfairly discriminatory.

Mark’s opponents attempted to attack him on his clear political leanings. This was seen at hustings, through social media and on the campaign trail itself, with rival activists doing everything within their power to apply smear. When asked during the election week, Mark said “I’d imagine all of the candidates have certain political views, however as RUSU President I will not allow any political views to affect day to day decision making. Obviously there will be times when I need to exercise my own judgement, and in those situations I will work with my conscience”.

Elected with a 108 vote margin, Mark takes office on 1st July, following a handover period working alongside the outgoing President. The committee and members of RUCA offer Mark their heartfelt congratulations.

Media contact: RUCA President at president@RUconservative.com.

Home Secretary visits RUCA

The Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP visited Reading University Conservative Association on campus last Thursday (24/01/13) to deliver a speech about her role as Home Secretary, the performance of the UK government and the outlook for 2013.

The event welcomed one of the largest audiences in the Association’s history, filling the ground floor of the Henley Business School, testament to Mrs May’s prowess as Home Secretary – one of the four “great offices of state”.

Executive Committee 2012-13 with the Home Secretary

In her speech, the Home Secretary covered her day to day role in the Home Office, the successes of the current government on a domestic and international stage, along with her outlook for the future. Following a question and answer session where she answered some questions regarding the press and police, she spent the rest of the evening touring the room allowing everyone in attendance the opportunity to ask questions if they had missed out.

RUCA President, James Caldecourt hailed the event “a great success”, adding “RUCA has gone from strength to strength this year, welcoming a record number of new members, and a turnout like this just proves how strong the Association currently is”. He went on to thank the Home Secretary, saying “Mrs May lit up the room this evening, giving a rousing speech that showed how successful the current government has been under tough circumstances”.

RUCA is the largest political student group at the university with more than 150 members, and is one of the leading University Conservative Associations in the country. They host weekly events throughout the academic year with many more exciting events to come. The society is open to all conservative-minded individuals and welcomes all new members who are enrolled students at the university. In September, the Home Secretary was announced as a Hon. Patron of RUCA alongside Rob Wilson MP and Dan Hannan MEP.

Media contact: RUCA Secretary, Andrew Knight at secretary@ruconservative.com
Visit www.RUconservative.com and follow on twitter @RdgUniTories

RUCA Welcomes the President

Reading University Conservative Association (RUCA) welcomed Mr Paul Swaddle to the University on Friday 7th December 2012. Paul is the incumbent President of the National Convention – the ‘parliament’ of the Conservative Party.

Paul and some RUCA members talking politics at Park House following the presentation

Paul delivering the presentation to 20 RUCA members in Palmer Building

Paul gave a talk about the opportunities available to conservative-minded students considering pursuing a career in politics. His presentation included a detailed look at the structure of the Party, the different routes to the top and what students could do now to enhance their profiles. Paul encouraged regular campaigning in the local area, scouring the web and local political offices for intern opportunities, and getting involved with local government, among others.

He also took questions and contributed to a debate of contemporary policy matters after the event.

Enquiries: secretary@RUconservative.com

 

 

Launch of “Library 24″ campaign

 

Following the success of the “Say NO to NUS” campaign, RUCA today launched its new campaign, “Library 24”. With the basic aim of securing 24-hour library access for all Reading University students, the Association launched a dedicated Facebook page (here) and online petition (here).

 

For too long, Reading University students have been subject to ruthlessly short opening hours, forcing students out of the library at 7pm on Friday evenings and 11.30pm on other weekdays; not opening until 8.30am on weekday mornings; and only opening at 11am – 9pm on weekends. While the University may deem time outside of these restrictions as antisocial, it is a basic fact of the student lifestyle that often, circumstances dictate working late into the night, or arriving early in the morning. Moreover, there is a fair proportion of students who actually prefer studying at antisocial hours, their minds being most active and lives being less busy.

The university recently launched a campaign to promote its “world top 1%” status, yet students lack basic around-the-clock access to the central learning hub, home to the majority of study spaces, academic literature and IT facilities. Surely a 24-hour library would be a great thing to promote about the University? Many of the UK’s top universities offer at least one 24-library as standard, including: Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, UCL and Imperial College, London.

Making this change would cause little extra spending by the university, with basic overheads like lighting and security guards (who already operate throughout the night) weighing in with no comparison to other areas of expenditure. In fact, this might just be the most cost-efficient decision the university could make, raising academic standards and student satisfaction, both of which both play vital roles in league tables and inspections.

Over the coming weeks, RUCA will be making the argument for a 24-hour library at Reading University. If you already support this goal, sign our petition (here); if not, watch this space and follow the campaign on Facebook.