Cherwell - Oxford University's Independent Student Newspaper since 1920

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Sian Cox-Brooker has published 31 articles

Get into... politics

Cherwell's beginners guide to Oxford's many student political groups
Sian Cox-Brooker on Friday 24th October 2008

For a fresher interested in getting ahead in the political world, Oxford University is the place to start.. But what groups are out there, and how can you decide what's for you?

OU Conservative Association
Port and Policy, Sunday 8pm, The Union 

Accessibility: 3
Ear of the powerful? 7
Making a difference? 1

More of a gathering for the elite of Oxford than an actual political association, OUCA seem to delight in their irreverence. Their Sunday meetings are populated by permanent adolescents who revel in the ridiculous amounts of free alcohol available. A good place to find a rich husband, not so good if you're actually serious about politics. But with the amount of free-flowing port and champagne, why not give it a go? You have nothing to lose but your dignity...

OU Labour Club
Meet Emily Thornberry, 8pm, Balliol

Accessibility: 7
Ear of the powerful? 5
Making a difference? 6

‘Forward to Socialism!' Or so their slogan claims... Whilst OULC are hardly the radical socialists they might claim to be, they are an active political party as opposed to a social gathering. Their meetings are informal, and last year they were visited by a number of prominent left wing politicians. With Brown on the rocks, maybe OULC can provide a successor...

JCR
Meetings on Sundays, run for first year rep

Accessibility: 9
Ear of the powerful? 2
Making a difference? 5

The JCR might get you involved in college politics, but above that, its influence is relatively limited - unless you're interested in OUSU (see below). JCR presidents are generally identifiable by their sense of self importance and lack of a sense of humour. It's a good way to get yourself known about college, but other than that, you'll spend more time appeasing college bursars and sending desperate emails plugging bops than actually doing anything useful.

Oxford University Student Union
Launch of Gender Equality Week, 8pm, Corpus Christi

Accessibility: 7
Ear of the powerful? 4
Making a difference? 7

The OUSU offices are full of students desperately trying to earn CV points and prolong the eventuality of ever getting a job. Apart from supplying condoms, not many people are all too sure exactly what OUSU do. Welfare is, however, their main concern, and for students keen to involve themselves in wider university life, this is the way to do it. Worthy? Yes. Necessary? Yes. But rather dull all the same.

Oxford Green Party Students
National young greens convention, Saturday 25th October

Accessibility: 6
Ear of the powerful? 3
Making a difference? 7

One of a number of green parties in the university, but one of the most active. It is not exclusively for Oxford University students, which means an expanded range of activities to involve itself in. If you're interested in green politics, Oxford is one of the best places to get involved as it has a successful local party and the party manages to balance social events with the more serious ones as well.

OU Lib Dems
Baroness Ros Scott, 27th October

Accessibility: 7
Ear of the powerful? 4
Making a difference? 6

One of the lesser known clubs in the university but apparently serious enough about their politics to put in actual work. Whilst their claim to ‘preserve and extend the essential freedoms of the British people' is perhaps a little overreaching, OULD do at least try. Their meetings are open to all and new faces are always welcome.

Oxford Socialist Students
Monday 7.30pm, Old Bookbinders pub

Accessibility: 2
Ear of the powerful? 1
Making a difference? 7

Their newspaper might celebrate the fact that capitalism has fallen, but many students queuing up for corporate jobs would beg to differ. The socialists take themselves incredibly seriously, and many find them intimidating as a result. However, if you are genuinely concerned to get involved with left wing politics, this may be the right party for you. But their creed is not for the faint hearted...

The Oxford Union Society
Debating workshop, Monday 26th, 6.30pm

Accessibility: 5
Ear of the powerful? 8
Making a difference? 4

Famously dubbed the ‘last bastion of free speech', its impressive reputation as the finest debating chamber in the world has ensured that many see it as the best way to kick-start their political career. To the uninitiated the Union can seem intimidating, but the current President has promised change and a more open society this term. We are all waiting on tenterhooks.

 

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