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Democracy Zone (29th January 2015)

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Name of Committee Democracy Zone
Date and time 29th January 2015, 13:00
Place Meeting Room 1
Present Members
(voting)
Union President David Mendoza-Wolfson
Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries Megan Downing
Clubs and Societies Officer Chris McGeehan
Vice President Sports Katie Lightowler
In Attendance
(non-voting officers and staff)
Director of Engagement Nickola Moore
Democracy Assistant Katie Ng
Democracy Coordinator Guy Drury
Chief Executive Scott Mccarthy
Absent without Apologies Union Council Chair Ben Morton
Non-members Ed Baird
Jade Head

Actions and Decisions

TypeDescriptionWho
Action amend the by law to include the stairs and toilets as areas where publicity is not allowed. Guy Drury
Action bring 'Union Council as Representatives on Zone Committees' to the next Union Council (19th March)
Action Create templates for Union Councillor reports and job specification for these roles Megan Downing
1. Apologies and attendance

Megan welcomed everyone to the meeting. There were no apologies received. Emily Shepherd was absent without apologies. 

The following Union members were also in attendance:

Frazer Delves, William Cable, Jade Head and Edmund Baird.

2. Minutes from the last meeting

The committee reveiwed the minutesfrom the last meeting held on 27th November.

The committee moved to a vote; 3 voted for. The minutes were approved

Student Groups
3. Student Groups update

Chris McGeehan (CM) provided a Student Groups update; following on from the last meeting of the Student Groups committee, Northern Ireland Society had been in touch to explain that they are active and should not be disaffiliated. This will be taken to the next meeting which is scheduled for Wednesday 4th February. 

Katie Lightowler asked if we should first assess the available facilities we have before promising certain support packages to new groups; Chris explained that all new groups are told that, regardless of their chosen package, they are not guaranteed room bookings as we have very limited amount of space left. 

Nickola suggested that the problem of space for groups should be looked into during the Student Groups Review which will happen later this year. This may involve changing the packages themselves.

 

Elections
4. Open Place Union Councillors election: by-law

Megan presented this paper. The Open place Union Councillors will be elected at the next Union Council and this by law outlines the rules and procedure behind this election. The paper is the same as last years by law for these elections except for the addition of section '5. Allocation of positions'. This section has been added to reflect the changes introduced by the Improved Leadership and Representation Policy (1314P28).

Jade asked for clarification on three points:

  • section 1.3 states that dates for the elections will be available online; at the time of the meeting, they are not online. This will be looked into by staff.
  • section 2.2 states that candidate are required to give a speech; what if a candidate does not want to or can't give a speech (e.g. not attending meeting)? Guy explained that, in extenuating circumstances where students can't get to the meeting, a written speech can be accepted by the Chair. David added that, in cases where candidates may lack confidence in their public speaking ability, they would still be expected to give a speech themselves. Ultimately, written speeches can be given to the Chair before the meeting, but it is the Chairs decision whether or not to read it on behalf of absent candidates.
  • section 3.2 states that every member of council can vote, but what about those who have not heard the candidates speech? Guy explained that the vote happens during the Union Council meeting and added that this could be made clearer in future.

CM questioned the phrasing of section 5.2 and asked Megan if it could be re-phrased. She replied that it cannot be changed and that this statement is required in this by law so that the definition of a woman, in terms of these elections, is clearly outlined. 

The committee moved to the vote; 4 voted for. This paper was approved.

5. Spring Elections: by-law

Megan presented this paper. 

Jade asked if a candidate has withdrawn their nomination, can they still re-nominate themselves if nominations are still open? David explained that the precedent has been to not allow this as candidates are told that they cannot change their manifesto once it has been submitted; allowing them to nominate themselves again would allow them to get round this rule. Guy added that it is unlikely that candidates would be able to gain any major advantage by doing this. Ultimately, the decision would be made by the Returning Officer (RO) who would most likely allow the nomination as long as the manifesto has remained unchanged from the original nomination. 

Jade asked if the rules for early elimination could be clarified. Guy explained that the RO has requested that ballot papers are not altered once voting has opened therefore candidates who withdraw early will remain on the ballot paper throughout the voting period. The number of votes they recieve will be reported as usual but it will be stated that they have requested early elimination. SUSU will not formally announce the candidates withdrawal, however the candidate can if they want to. 

Jade asked if the one week deadline of claiming money back for election material willbe enforced this year? Megan clarified that the claims need to be made within one week; the money can be collected at any time once claim has been processed. 

Jade asked for clarification on candidate using student group Facebook pages to promote their campaigns. Megan explained that there is no problem with his, as long as the groups comply with the elections rules regarding publicity. 

Rian asked if section 4.10 (removing publicity within 24 hours) included online publicity. Candidates will be advised to remove online publicity.

CM noted that the by law does not mention some areas, specifically stairs, as an area where candidates cannot put their posters. Guy agreed that this should be included in the paper, as well as toilets and cubicles. Areas where publicty is not allowed will be covered in the candidates briefing as well.

Rian asked if mass emails were allowed as part of online campaigning. Guy explained that emails can only be sent to people who have given their consent to be contacted. Mass emails to entire faculties are generally not acceptable. 

 

The committee moved to the vote; 4 voted for. This paper, including the amendments mentioned above, was approved.

Action amend the by law to include the stairs and toilets as areas where publicity is not allowed. (Guy Drury)
Constitution
6. Union Council Representatives on Zone Committees

Jade presented this paper. Initial consultation with students has shown that Union Council reps on Zone committees are not being consistently dealt with across all Zones and that, in many cases, they do not fulfill the role that is stated in the rules. 

The group discussed the following points:

  • The rule may be the issue, should it be changed to reflect what is actually happening?
  • Union Councillors may not be aware of their responsibilities; this may be due to lack of training.
  • Creating a job specification for these roles may be beneficial. 

After discussion, the group decided that this topic should be brought to Union Council as an idea session. Templates for Union Council reports will also be created for Councillors. 

Frazer asked how Councillors who miss meetings are dealt with. Megan explained that attendance is recorded and if councillors miss three meetings (without apologies) or six (with apologies), they are contacted by their relevant Sabbatical Officer and asked to explain their absences. In extreme cases, this may lead to their removal. 

Chris McGeehan left the meeting. 

William Cable left the meeting.

Action bring 'Union Council as Representatives on Zone Committees' to the next Union Council (19th March)
Action Create templates for Union Councillor reports and job specification for these roles (Megan Downing)
7. PGT and PGR Officers on Education Zone Committee

Edmund Baird presented this paper. Guy explained that, contrary to the last paragraph, the change will first be made to the By law and then the Rule will be changed. 

 

The committee moved to a vote; 3 voted for. The paper, with the amendment mentioned above, was approved.  

Katie Lightowler left the meeting.

8. Memberships

Megan presented this paper for discussion. Jade asked how can we ensure that students who run in the elections for any of the positions, will definetly be a member of the Union in the following year (e.g. students awaiting confirmation of their postgraduate studies)? Guy explained that we do not ask for proof and therefore it is difficult to stop students from doing this. However, it is very unlikely that this would happen.

Jade asked if last year's Sabbatical Officers received Honorary Life membership cards; Guy answered no as there was no motion brought to Union Council asking for this.   

Regarding the addition of Honorary Associate Members, the feedback from the group was positive. 

Any other business
9. Date of the next meeting

AOB

Edmund asked if the group were discussing manifesto word lengths. Megan replied that this issue was a function of the Spring Elections Working group.

 

The meeting ended at 2.15pm. The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 25th February at 3pm, in Meeting Room 2.

Key: P (Papers Provided), PF (Papers to Follow)