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Democracy Zone (21st January 2016)

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Name of Committee Democracy Zone
Date and time 21st January 2016, 13:00
Place Board Room
Present Members
(voting)
Union Council Representative (Physical Sciences & Engineering Faculty Officer) Giles Howard
Chair of Council Jade Head
Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries Kerry Sclater
Union Council Representative (Humanities Faculty Officer) Frazer Delves
In Attendance
(non-voting officers and staff)
Democracy Co-ordinator Guy Drury
Policy & Volunteer Manager Christopher Small
Democracy Assistant Ed Baird
Absent with Apologies Union President Ben Franklin
Vice President Sports Jamie Wilson
Clubs and Societies Officer Catriona Philip
1. Welcome and apologies

Kerry welcomed everyone to the meeting. Alex Hovden, Rebecca Lake, Darren Richardson, Cameron Meldrum and Anjit Aulakh were also in attendance.

2. Minutes from the last meeting

The minutes were approved.

Student groups
3. Student Groups update

Kerry explained that the Student Groups Project is an annual review of the support that is offered to student groups.  Working with the Insight Manager, they are currently looking at what topics to ask student groups about (e.g. funding, ‘How To’ guides, packages etc.).

Decision-making
4. Democracy Review update

Kerry gave a presentation, outlining the proposed changes and why they are necessary.

Alex asked about the signposting session and whether issues could be sent to Trustee Board. Kerry said that they would be.

Alex also asked about the Chair of Senate and whether it would be an independent person or one of the Full Time Officers. Kerry said that they had spoken about this issue but wanted to ask the Committee. Frazer and Giles said that they thought an impartial person would be best, with Giles saying that a Full Time Officer with a political agenda could abuse the position if also the Chair of Senate.

Alex also asked what the open positions on Senate would be called (e.g. Union Senators). Kerry said that they had discussed this but hadn’t decided on a name yet.

Frazer questioned how often Senate would meet. Kerry said that Senate would less regular meetings but could, be called when it is needed at other times.

Frazer also asked about the Facilities and Services body. Kerry said that it came from thinking about what didn’t fit in zones and they now had to define its purpose clearly and decide what the membership would be.

Frazer also spoke about the online discussion aspect of You Make Change, saying that there’s the need for that after the Ideas and Open Discussion Facebook Group stopped being used.

Darren asked how students will know that the Union has done something because there needs to be something to replace the Union Mandates section. Kerry said that this was a really good point and would think about what they could do.

Giles spoke about the Action Log policy, saying that the ability for students to track an idea and see the progress is very important.

Alex asked about being able to upvote on online discussion comments. Kerry said that this would be a feature alongside more options.

Giles asked about impact of the Democracy Review on the Spring Elections e.g. candidates could be running for roles that will change. Guy said that the only major change would be that Union Councillor elections would likely be suspended and could be run in the Summer Elections if they needed to be.

Giles also asked about when the new zones would meet. Kerry said that they were looking at the times when students are most likely to engage politically with SUSU and to match the zone meetings with these times.

Elections
5. Membership of Elections Working Groups

Giles said that allowing Full Time Officers on the Working Group could result in a Working Group with only Full Time Officers, which might be a problem. Kerry said that students should trust the Full Time Officers to make those types of decisions.

This was approved.

6. Spring Elections By-Law

It was explained that due to being sent out after the agenda had been published, the By-Law would be discussed here and then approved via email.

The main changes were the removal of the vehicles on campus rule and relaxing the restrictions of posting in various Facebook groups.

Giles asked about Faculty Officer and their mailing lists. Guy said that they would make any decisions on a case by case basis.

Frazer asked whether Faculty Officers would be able to use their mailing lists during the election period. Guy said that they could for work related to their role, but not for campaigning.

Alex asked about manifesto word limits. Kerry said that they hadn’t decided on word limit yet.

Kerry also updated that online campaigning will be from the 17th due to having to rearrange the date of the debates.

Constitution
7. The Students’ Union community - Improving the membership system

It was explained that the main changes are clarification of what a member is and the fact that you can remove membership.

Guy explained that there would be an amendments to 1.1 (d) to change the wording of ‘suspended with services’ to ‘suspended’. Darren asked about suspension of PGR students, which means something different. Guy said that that those students would still be seen as student and a member of the Students’ Union.

Darren questioned whether it’s fair to ask staff members who already pay more for membership to societies to also pay for membership to the Students’ Union. Guy explained that this was the case for a number of reasons and would be unlikely to change but would look at specific issues on a case by case basis.

Giles asked about people being elected who have suspended their studies, presenting the danger of having people elected who aren’t here. Kerry said that she saw that as a separate point and that the proposed changes wouldn’t affect the issue.

This was approved.

8. Winchester Committee By-Law

Anjit asked if anyone had any questions about the By-Law. Giles questioned item 3.1 (b) and whether the Academic Officer should report to the Vice-President Education and the Faculty Officer. Kerry read out Shruti’s correspondence saying that in this case, the Winchester Academic Officer would report directly to the VP Education because WSA is a separate entity and therefore needs a system that works for them.

Darren asked what would happen if the Business, Law and Art Faculty Officer was elected from WSA. It was explained that whilst it had never happened, the system could be reviewed in the future if the situation changed.

Alex questioned whether the word ‘adequately’ in item 6.4 was open to interpretation. Kerry said that everything is open to interpretation and is a word that is often used.

Giles asked about whether the Winchester Academic Officer would sit on Education Zone. Anjit said that it wouldn’t happen at the moment, because they just wanted to make sure that it worked and then they could review the structure in the future.

This was approved.

9. Winchester Campus President job description

This was approved.

10. Any other business

Giles asked about Union Councillor reports. Kerry said that she had a meeting scheduled with Jade about this and would get back to Giles and Frazer about what had been agreed.

Alex said that he was planning on submitting a Freedom of Information policy to Union Council and asked for any input.

As there was no other business, the meeting was closed at 14:10.  

11. Date and time of the next meeting

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