Democracy Zone (23rd October 2015)


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Name of Committee Democracy Zone
Date and time 23rd October 2015, 14:00
Place Meeting Room 2
Present Members
Union Council Representative (Physical Sciences & Engineering Faculty Officer) Giles Howard
Chair of Council Jade Head
Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries Kerry Sclater
Vice President Sports Jamie Wilson
Clubs and Societies Officer Catriona Philip
Union Council Representative (Humanities Faculty Officer) Frazer Delves
In Attendance
(non-voting officers and staff)
Democracy Co-ordinator Guy Drury
Chief Executive Scott Mccarthy
Policy & Volunteer Manager Christopher Small
Democracy Assistant Ed Baird
Absent with Apologies Union President Ben Franklin

Actions and Decisions

Decision The Committee voted in favour of holding the debates over two days.
Decision The Committee voted in favour of holding the Q&A during the voting period.
Decision The Enhancing Volunteering Policy was approved by the Committee
1. Apologies and attendance

Kerry welcomed everyone to the meeting. Darren Richardson (student) was also present.

2. Minutes from the last meeting

Kerry noted that due to staff shortages over summer, the minutes of the last meeting were still in progress, but would be published soon.

Student Groups
3. Student Groups update

Trini updated the Committee on the most recent meeting of Student Groups Committee (https://www.susu.org/meetings/1073). 18 student groups were affiliated.

4. Spring elections dates

Kerry explained that the Spring Elections dates would be shortened from last year, but that two weeks would still be sufficient time for the same preparation events, for example drop in sessions. Kerry also said that there would be more support for effective campaigning, rather than the feeling that candidates should be campaigning throughout the entire election period. Kerry also explained that they were planning on organising a breakfast for candidates, possibly on a Wednesday morning, where candidates can come together and have a break from campaigning.

Alex asked about the debates. Kerry said that holding the debates on a Saturday like last year, is often difficult for students to attend. Jamie suggested that the debates could be held over two days and that the Q&A for the candidates could be held the day before voting opens, giving people the opportunity to change their vote. Kerry said that generally voting peaks towards the end of the week, and holding the Q&A in the voting week would hopefully keep people voting throughout the week. Alex suggested the idea that voting could open directly after the Q&A. Jade said that both events would likely finish late, which would be tiring for both students and candidates. Kerry said that it’s fairly logical to have the debates before voting starts, with people setting out their manifestos and have the Q&A during voting week, when people have had time to study candidates’ manifestos.

Frazer asked about the Candidates' Briefing, because last year there were two. Kerry said that could happen, but it isn’t in the plan at the moment. She explained that there will be lots of other events that need to be decided that aren’t in the calendar at the moment.

Kerry said that it might be better to have the debate on one day because some positions could be less popular and have poor attendance.
Alex asked where the debates were going to happen this year, with the Concourse and Garden Court having been used in the past. Kerry said that the Concourse was not really suitable because of the acoustics but all venues were yet to be decided. Jamie expressed concern about Wednesday afternoons being used for events during elections because it means that candidates and students involved in sport probably would not be able to make it.

Decision The Committee voted in favour of holding the debates over two days.
Decision The Committee voted in favour of holding the Q&A during the voting period.
5. Democracy Review

Kerry updated the Committee that the Democracy Review timeline had now changed due to the referendum and that Democracy Week would begin on 9th. Giles asked how the councillors idea would work at the next Council. It was explained that whilst their votes wouldn’t count, Council would take their decisions into consideration. Darren asked how open the trials would be. Kerry said that all the events would be open, but that openness was not necessarily a priority for trials such as the jury.

Kerry also explained that there wasn’t going to be one system that they would copy entirely, but would most likely opt for a hybrid of several different systems.

Alex asked who would chair the discussions in the forum trials and the Union Question Time. Kerry said the forum would likely be someone who has experience of chairing, whereas the Union Question Time could be someone from the student media groups.

Giles asked how the forums would work with the officers. Kerry said that the relevant officers would be invited as an expert when a topic had been chosen.

Jade asked how the councillors trial would work. Kerry said that two different ideas sessions could happen and compare what decisions they made.

Jamie asked what would happen if people didn’t turn up. Kerry said that that was an issue for every trial, but as a trial, quoracy would not necessarily be crucial.

Giles asked how the scrutiny panel would work if all the members of the panel were officers from the same zone. Kerry said the random selection could happen from each zone. Frazer said that being from the same zone might not necessarily be a problem and could actually be beneficial for scrutiny because the officers would probably know the context.

Giles asked about the Action Log policy and whether that would be incorporated into You Make Change. Kerry said that she would look into this.

6. Quoracy and placement students

Kerry explained that Union Council had passed this policy and has now come back to Kerry and Democracy Zone Committee to discuss how to implement the policy.

Giles outlined the problem - that officers on placement could not avoid being absent for meetings, but still affect quoracy and that for some meetings quorum might not be reached. Giles said that he wanted to find a way to allow people to declare that they were on placement without promoting the idea that officers are not accountable as soon as they go on placement.

It was explained that Daniel Browning’s amendment to the policy mandates the Vice-President Democracy and Creative Industries to look into ways to ensure representation of officers when they are unable to attend a meeting. Giles said that maybe round robin could be used, but isn’t used legitimately at the moment but maybe could be looked into. Darren said that if round robin is used then open archives should be used to allow other people to know what was said in the discussion. Jamie said that often zone committee minutes don’t often say who said what but rather what was said. Frazer expressed concern about proxy voting, because it means that people are making up their mind purely based on the paper without hearing a balanced argument. Kerry suggested that people could remotely Skype into the meeting, but it is something that perhaps doesn’t need to be formalised but something that could be encouraged.

7. Referendum update

Kerry explained that the referendum update would be fairly brief considering they had a meeting last night to decide the dates and conduct of the referendum. Kerry also thanked the people who came to the meeting to discuss the pros and cons. Jade said she was pleased that the ideas were used. It was explained that there would be several voting booths with marketing crew on the day of voting. Alex asked about the marketing crew and Kerry explained that there would be 2 people for 3 hours in each place. Frazer said that it would be a good idea to encourage new course reps to mention the referendum in their introductions to their cohorts.

8. Proposing rule amendments at Union Council

Frazer explained that this was a small, but important issue - that when people bring rule amendments, it has to go through Democracy Zone and then presented at Union Council by the Vice-President Democracy and Creative Industries. The proposed change would allow the student to propose their own idea.

Darren asked what the rationale was behind having rules come through the Democracy Zone Committee. It was explained that Democracy Zone Committee has the power to suggest multiple options to Council for them to decide which one they prefer. Darren said that it was possible for the Vice-President Democracy and Creative Industries to be presenting something that they are against, which Frazer agreed with and said that this has happened in the past.

Kerry agreed that this was a good idea, and didn’t think that it is necessary for the Vice-President Democracy and Creative Industries to propose every rule change. The Committee agreed that it would be important not to force the person to speak, but rather give the student the opportunity to speak for their own proposal. It was agreed that this idea doesn’t necessarily have to change any rules but rather something that should be encouraged.

Any other business
9. Enhancing Volunteering Project

Kerry mentioned her recent report at Council, and that the next step would be to bring the Enhancing Volunteering Policy as a Proposal.

Frazer asked about how the compulsory handover would be enforced. Kerry said that this would be difficult but suggested that the by-laws could be amended to say that it was expected that a handover take place.

Darren expressed concern that the compulsory attendance at meetings could be difficult for the PGR Officer with the amount of meetings that they are expected to be present at. Jade pointed out the policy mentioned that ‘‘prompt’ apologies’ could be given.

Giles asked about whether training would be included in the Code of Conduct. It was explained that it might be more effective if it was incorporated into the ongoing training review.


Any other business

Kerry wished Jade a happy birthday.

Kerry also updated the Committee on the progress of Malaysia and Winchester. After meeting the newly elected Winchester Campus President, they had decided on to implement a representation structure very soon. There had also been a very successful election at Malaysia with every executive position having at least 3 candidates with a proportionate number of women elected.

As there was no other business, the meeting was closed at 15.21.

Decision The Enhancing Volunteering Policy was approved by the Committee
10. Date of the next meeting

The next meeting will be Friday 27th November at 14:00.

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