Today we were informed that the LMSS will no longer be a part of the Guild and that it is no longer allowed to operate in University premises, this includes advertisements at lectures, which will no doubt have a dramatic effect on the number of students enrolling in the society in future years. For me this is a great loss to future generations of Liverpool medics who will be unable to experience the overwhelming amount of history and traditions that being part of a century old society comes with. Last year I along with the majority of my year group went to a revision weekend organised by the society, it was brilliant and for a fiver I received over 20 hours of quality lectures. Without the academic support provided by the LMSS I would have not been able to pass my exams.
The Liverpool Medical Student Society has been running for over 145 years, its inception predating the university itself. Originally called the Liverpool medical debating society, its members debated topical medical developments as well as wider social issues, such as allowing women in to the profession. The LMSS has always had a progressive attitude, it was the very first medical school in the UK to allow females to train as doctors, and has always promoted freedom of speech and sexual liberation. Its members have always been keen fundraisers and have raised over £25,000 this academic year alone for its selected charities; including Claire House and WaterAid.
Like many old societies it comes with some rather eccentric traditions, for example at Ordinary Meetings coins are thrown at the treasurer, members of the society must wear a costume hat to speak, all public business must be preceded by the phrase ‘Mr President, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen’. Traditions like these have not changed, but there are many others that have evolved over time to be more in keeping with current societal standards. The LMSS’ constitution states ‘the role of the LMSS to promote the well-being, social life, sporting activities and charity fund-raising for all its members.’ and this is the ethos that it has strived to achieve for over a century.
Many of you may be aware of what we refer to as the ‘SMOKER debacle’ of 2014, this is when a potential script for an inappropriate play was made public. It is important to note that this script was in no way finalised and may never have even made it to the stage. That being said it highlighted some issues that the society faced. Since then the society committee have put in countless hours to make the society more inclusive through fundraising, alcohol free socials, and teaching in both primary and secondary schools. It has also expanded on the many educational extracurricular lectures covering a wide range of socioeconomic topics such as the effects of female genital mutilation, transgender awareness and overcoming global health inequalities. The LMSS has many associated societies including ECG (Equality and Cultural group), HIVE – a society involved with educating school children about HIV, and LivPsych- a society dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues.
We are unfortunately faced with a Guild who rather than would work together with the LMSS to define new acceptable boundaries would just discard it through to the fear that comes with the association of one negative press event. They have cut off all communication between the current committee and its society members, meaning that the information cannot be passed to us.
So with this new expulsion in effect, you may no longer see copies of ‘Sphincter’ in the Library (the medic’s version of our very own Sphinx newspaper), and you may no longer be able to attend concerts in the Guild, or attend lectures on topics on mental health and innovative cancer treatments (these events have always been open to all Liverpool students, not just medics).
I will not say Rest in Peace to the LMSS as it is still truly alive in over 1,500 medical students, through fundraising, academic support and a fabulous social life. The Guild today have truly shown their colours and the extent to which they are willing to distance themselves from what can only be described as a PR nightmare, and not an accurate representation the society or its members, but to paraphrase Freddy Mercury “The [society] must go on”.