By Liam Ketcher
Cardiff’s Student Union will officially establish a union for Welsh speaking students and learners, with the aim of establishing by the start of the next academic year.
The plans were supported with a staggering 87 per cent vote in favour at the student senate last week.
This news comes after months of behind the scenes work from the Union’s Welsh Language Officer Osian Wyn Morgan, meeting with various Welsh speaking students and representatives from the Union.
In a statement by Osian on Wednesday he described this as “a vital and exciting development for Welsh speaking students in Cardiff, and we are planning to establish UMCC (Undeb Myfyrwyr Cymraeg Caerdydd) by the start of the next academic year.”
UMCC will represent Welsh speakers and learners across all aspects of University life. Its aim is to “represent everyone” according to Osian, “whether someone who wishes to speak Welsh every day, or use it every now and again.”
The Union will represent all across Cathays Campus and Heath Park. Working closely with the Welsh societies that currently exist within the union, UMCC will be there to support the societies in the work they already do and improve the experience for all Welsh speaking in Cardiff.
Cardiff is not the first to establish a Welsh Language Union, with Aberystwyth (UMCA) being the first to do so in 1973, and Bangor (UMCB) doing the same in 1976.
Although the wait for a Welsh Language Union in Cardiff is overdue Osian believes that this is a “positive and necessary step” on the journey towards linguistic equality. This however is not the first time that students attempted to form a Welsh Language Union in Cardiff.
A similar body to UMCC was formed back in 2006, but this came to an end a few short years later. Osian is feeling a lot more hopeful for the future of the new union: “We will be within the Union, therefore hopefully this time the role of Welsh Language Officer, which is my current role at the moment, will change to be the president of UMCC.”
Osian is hoping that electing an UMCC President and Committee instead of one isolated campaign officer, will give Welsh speaking students better representation, and will put their representatives in a stronger position to positively impact on the Students’ Union and the University.
He believes that this will give greater status and more respect, in comparison to if they were to establish it outside of the SU.
In an interview with BBC Cymru Fyw Osian stated that in his two years here at Cardiff, he has seen that the Welsh speakers here the the University don’t pertain with the union and the amazing opportunities that are available here.
He said: “We are completely isolated from the union and the main body of students here at Cardiff.” The establishment of UMCC will hopefully help unite all students together, both Welsh and non-Welsh speaking students.
Osian has worked closely with SU president Sophie Timbers, who has realised herself that there are issues that exist within the Welsh community and the relationship with the union. Sophie has been eager to work with Osian to help better that situation – and forming UMCC is the result of that.
Sophie also worked along side Osian in launching the Welsh Language Policy, which launched officially back in November.
This process began with previous welsh language officers Cerith Rhys Jones and Steffan Bryn. In the AGM this year Sophie stated that her vision is that the union would be completely bilingual, and this is a step towards that.
There is a lot of work to be done in the coming months with Welsh speaking students and Union representatives working together to set up UMCC in time for the next academic year.
The coordination with all students is vital to ensure that UMCC will be successful and a prosperous part of the Union, and to ensure that it will give Welsh speaking students and learners the representation that they deserve and need.
Osian added: “I would like to thank everybody that has supported me in this process so far, I’m looking forward to continue to work with everyone over the coming months to ensure that UMCC will be a body that Welsh speakers and learners will be proud of – and that it will further make true our desire to live through the medium of Welsh in the University.”