Interview: former President Wearden speaks

9 February 2008

The Cambridge Student talked to ex-Union President William Wearden about recent events at the society.

How are you feeling now?

Slightly relieved. Obviously it’s sad to see it go, but I think that in the end I did the right thing, so, and the support that I’ve had from my friends has been good.

Was the result what you expected?

I didn’t know what result to expect. I wanted to make sure that the 30,000 letters we sent out was the only campaigning we did. I wanted people to make the decision on the basis of that, and on the basis of the written statement I issued.

Why do you think that turnout was so low?

It was very very sudden. In election times, which are the most obvious point of comparison, people are compiling excel spreadsheets of people’s phone numbers and which way they’re likely to vote and if they’re likely to vote at all.

There are targeted phone campaigns, so it’s much more clinical, and people have a lot more notice. It was probably because it did seem important as perhaps it should have done.

Why did you present the poll as an issue of confidence in yourself?

I think it wasn’t unreasonable to think that the poll was an issue of confidence in James Robinson, and because I had staked quite a lot and stated my absolute confidence in James’s ability as secretary but also as the person to ratify the constitutional committee. And it was so vital to the Union’s future that I staked my position on it.

Why did you feel so strongly about supporting James?

I felt so strongly because he is one of the few people in a long time in the history of the Union who has spent so much time there day in day out making sure the basic things are done such as keeping the utilities running. And I think that’s why he was so keen on making sure he was involved in the constitutional process as well, and I thought that as a person who had a forensic eye for everything that’s going on in the Union, I felt I had to state absolute confidence in him.

So where is the Union going to go from here?

It’s difficult – I am drafting a letter to the Trustees to explain why I resigned. I’m going to present it to them in the final Trustees meeting on Thursday. I think I’m going to recommend that the Union cannot be run as a student organisation much longer.

I’m going to say that the building should be run professionally whilst students organise their debates. I think there’s something quite sad about that, but the factionalism that we thought we’d got rid of almost a year ago with a lot of the work of Luke Pearce started has come back. It’s come back in a way that means that the Union can’t continue as a student run organisation.

And what are you personally going to do from here?

I’m going to try and salvage my degree.