I had the opportunity to sit down and get coffee with the founder of Stirling University’s newest political society: Stuart McLuckie is the interim president and the driving force behind the Stirling University Libertarian Society.
Libertarianism is a concept that I’m not hugely familiar with, it’s one of those words that is often only mentioned in the context of American politics. I find this idea of the society particularly interesting.
McLuckie said: “It was at that point we knew, something’s wrong here”.
The idea to start a society, Stuart tells me, came from witnessing universities across the globe demonise students who think differently.
Often times on campus if you don’t think a certain way, your voice won’t be heard. He cites the recent neutrality motion as an example, submitted at a Stir it Up meeting.
This was a motion designed to take politics out of the Student Union.
Instead, McLuckie said, it resulted in people getting shut down and called names before the meeting even started, and when the meeting did start it culminated in ignoring those who thought differently.
Stuart goes on to say that ironically accusations of bigotry and extremism were levelled at people trying to pass a neutrality motion of all things.
He said: “These people are so used to having their own way, they are not used to hearing the other side of the argument, that becomes extreme.”
Libertarianism at its heart is an idea devoted to promoting freedom of speech and the free market, however, this is not the only objective of the society.
Stuart’s goal is to create a “support network” for people who have views that don’t satisfy the campus norm. Stuart explains that people are being discouraged from speaking up, through fear of being shouted down.
He said: “There’s a lot of ideologues who do things not because it’s fair, not because it’s right but because it benefits their point of view more.”
Despite his previous comments, Stuart is positive about the Union and the role they play on campus. Already he says that the Union is moving more towards the centre-ground; a step in the right direction.
This is largely down to the Union President, who he credits highly in shifting the approach of the student body.
There is more to be done, he says. With paltry turnout at elections and Stir it Up meetings, more needs to be done to engage students effectively.
I do however think some people will boil this all down to a left vs right argument.
You can feel this vibe around campus – we’re surrounded by everyone flying their political and ideological flags high. That said, wouldn’t it be a chronic disservice to misinterpret the message that Stuart and the society are trying to promote?
Stuart mentioned as a matter of fact that on the interim committee he has members from across the political spectrum, including members of both the Greens and the SNP.
This was surprising, as until this moment I had thought this was a right of centre movement.
I soon learnt that I was wrong. This society is not a movement anchored in the traditional political conflict.
Rather it is a movement that is open and forward about free speech, a free market and above all defence of democracy.
I for one am excited to see where this society goes and how they impact university politics.
You can get in touch by emailing Stuart personally on: firstname.lastname@example.org or the society’s official email: email@example.com