The mere look of glee or, more cynically, dread in the visage of expectant students receiving their results should be enough of a victory to add to KSU’s century old CV. Still, consider for a moment the snail’s pace that discussions took, the disregard to KSU (or students for that matter) that the stakeholders’ attitudes often showed, and that it was only KSU’s threat of a student protest that really incited a reaction. This all shows that KSU was not as influential as it should have been throughout negotations.
In spite of this lack of influence, has KSU influenced the trade dispute in any way? When queried on the former question, Julian Caruana, Insite’s former media officer, highlighted that “…all we got was a reminder that KSU is nothing more than a student pressure group”.
He went on the explain that KSU did have a significant role at ensuring a quicker resolution to negotations. However, unless the council could secure a seat at the negotation table , the amount of power they could assert was always going to be limited. “We have seen some improvements of late, namely KSU’s inclusion in the body that decides on the next canteen operator, but much more needs to be done”, Caruana said.
As a mere ‘student pressure group’, has KSU failed to put out its own voice? Former JEF and KSU executive member Albert Camilleri believes that KSU looked on top of things in both social media and local newspapers, particularly since a lot of their actions were picked up by a number of organisations and media houses. “Usually when that happens, you are on the right track of influencing decisions in one way or another”, Camilleri said, while also noting KSU’s involvement in the collective agreement before the unions’ announcement of the trade dispute.
Often seen as a deviant from KSU’s preferred tactic of being the only student organisation that negotiates on behalf of the entire student body, Chris Vella, vice president of rival political organisation Pulse, shot down the idea that KSU has achieved the result on its own. “Without taking any merits from any student organisation or the council itself, it was a joint effort, manifesting a clear example of the pros of student representation,” Vella said. “Certainly it was a great effort from the whole student body at large, which as clearly envisaged today, led to the desired effect’’.
Like Julian Caruana, Mr Vella believes that the next challenge lies in ensuring that students have a presence on the round table from day 1.
Overall, the general consensus is that KSU probably handled the situation in the best way it could. Its greatest move was its ability to effectively rally a student body which is often considered highly passive and apathetic. Regardless of the highly valid criticsm of KSU’s stature as a minnow throughout negotiations, KSU will come out of this as a students’ council that was ready to go that extra mile and take “radical steps” in the form of a protest. Definitely something to add to the CV.