Print

Democracy Zone (25th March 2014)

Minutes

Switch to Agenda

Name of Committee Democracy Zone
Date and time 25th March 2014, 09:00
Place Boardroom
Present Members
(voting)
Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries David Martin
Vice President Sports Evan Whyte
Clubs and Societies Officer Jamie Hemingway
Union Councillor Mayan Al-Shakarchy
In Attendance
(non-voting officers and staff)
Chief Executive Jaki Booth
Democracy Assistant Katie Ng
Democracy Coordinator Guy Drury
Absent with Apologies Union President David Gilani
Union Council Chair Katy O'Brien
Head of Membership and Community Engagement Nickola Moore
Absent without Apologies Union Councillor Jamie Barker
Non-members Jade Head
Megan Downing
Marcus Burton

Actions and Decisions

TypeDescriptionWho
Action Ongoing from minutes from 14th January: amend policy 1214P16 Guy Drury
Action Create a general guide on how to write policies David Martin
Action Create a Policy By-law (including guidance on lapsing policies) David Martin
Decision Policy cycle will last 3 years, with a review every 2 years
Action Include this policy review update in 'Matters arising' at the next Union Council (27th March) David Martin, Guy Drury
Decision The committee voted against the Student Enterprise Officer becoming a full voting member of the Student Groups Committee
Action Review the membership of the Student Groups Committee David Martin, Jamie Hemingway
Action Review the Student Leader positions, with the possibility of drafting up a policy regarding Student Leader elections David Martin, Megan Downing, Jade Head
Action Review the representation of Student Groups - are there particular Student Leaders who should be represneting certain groups David Martin
Action Move Rule 2-section 6.3 to the end of Rule 2 and expand; apply Rule 6-section1 to the Union Council Chair David Martin, Guy Drury
Action In Rule 10-section 2, add 'Union Council Chair' to the list of applicable positions David Martin, Guy Drury
Action In Rule 7-section 6.1a, add 'Union Council Chair' to the list of applicable positions David Martin, Guy Drury
Decision The proposed dates (see paper) were approved by the committee
Action Inform Lorna Reavley of the Summer Election dates David Martin, Guy Drury
Action ensure Union Councillor and Student Trustee results data is on website David Martin
1. Apologies and attendance

David Martin welcomed everyone to the meeting. Apologies and attendance were noted as above. Also in attendance were William Cable (Union Councillor) and Chris McGeehan (Student Groups Officer-elect). Megan Downing was present as VP Democracy and Creative Industries-elect.

2. Approval of minutes from the last Committee meeting (14th January)

The minutes from the Democracy Zone Committee held on 14th January 2014 were approved by the committee members.

All actions had been completed except the action regarding Item 8, to amend Policy 1213P16. Guy Drury will do this.

Action Ongoing from minutes from 14th January: amend policy 1214P16 (Guy Drury)
Student Groups
3. Update on affiliations and funding

In absence of the Student Groups Officer, David Martin presented the Student Groups Report. At the last affiliation meeting, eight student groups were affiliated; this brings the total of affiliated student groups to 295. David also updated the group on the amount of funding allocated to student groups; currently it stands at £269,320.

  • Jaki asked why the Harry Potter Society were not affiliated. William Cable answered that the Student Groups Committee felt that the group did not fit the criteria outlined for new student groups; they were informed that there was a Fandom Society and the committee recommended they contact them.
  • Marcus Burton noted that Student Communities Zone had not allocated a large portion of funds (£3,700). He asked whether student groups needed more training in how to apply for funding to prevent groups missing out on opportunities available to them. David Martin answered that this training should be done by the student groups during their handover period once the new committee have been elected.  
Policy review
4. Policy review update

David Martin asked Marcus Burton for a Policy Review update. 

The policy outlining the Policy Review groups decisions to retain, consolidate and lapse Union policies passed at the last Union Council meeting. This paper brought to the Democracy Zone outlines possible outcomes of this review that require action and decisions to be made in order for the Union to move forward. 

David Martin outlined his initial thoughts about each outcome and invited the committee to discuss the possibilities:

  1. Some of the outcomes are similar to each other and highlight the need for Policy guidelines.
  2. There was general agreement that the policy cycle should be shortened from 4 years to 3 years, with a 2 year review.
  3. One possible outcome was to give Zones the power to bring to Democracy Zone policies in their remit that they would like to lapse. It was suggested that, as Zones now have ownership of some policies, they should also be able to make decisions about them. The committee were generally against this idea and it was not carried forward. 
  4. Throughout discussion, it was clear that there needs to be a better process whereby one-off decisions can be made and passed by Union Council, without the need for a policy to be created. 
  5. Regarding the tracking of policy implementation, Jade Head suggested assigning policies to Union Councillors. It would therefore be their responsibility to ensure that the Union is implementing policies. Another suggestion was to have policies allocated to Sabbatical Officers and tracked online, along with Officer Plans. 
Action Create a general guide on how to write policies (David Martin)
Action Create a Policy By-law (including guidance on lapsing policies) (David Martin)
Decision Policy cycle will last 3 years, with a review every 2 years
Action Include this policy review update in 'Matters arising' at the next Union Council (27th March) (David Martin, Guy Drury)
Constitution
5. Membership of Student Groups Committee

On behalf of the VP Engagement and External Engagement Zone, David Martin brought forward a proposal to add the Student Enterprise Officer (SEO) to the voting membership of the Student Groups Committee. 

It was noted that SUSU Rule 6 does not state that the SEO should represent the enterprise societies. Furthermore, the External Engagment Zone (EEZ) By-law explains that the role of the Student Group Representative for EEZ is to represent all student groups who sit under the EEZ, which would include enterprise groups.

Jamie Hemingway explained that he has been in contact with the SEO throughout the year and they have worked closely together on the issue of enterprise groups. Currently, the SEO is an invited member to Student Groups Committee and has attended at least one meeting, althought it is not in their remit to do so. It was therefore suggested that, instead of changing the rules for one particular Officer, the SEO job description itself should be updated. 

The Committee found that there was ambiguity over which student leaders (if any), looked after which student groups. David Martin explained that an outcome from this discussion would be to review the current membership of the Student Groups Committee and, in order to inform this review, the relationship between student leaders and student groups would also be explored i.e. who is representing each group.  

The committee moved to a vote on the proposal; 1 voted for, 2 voted against and 0 abstained. This proposal was not passed. 

Decision The committee voted against the Student Enterprise Officer becoming a full voting member of the Student Groups Committee
Action Review the membership of the Student Groups Committee (David Martin, Jamie Hemingway)
Action Review the representation of Student Groups - are there particular Student Leaders who should be represneting certain groups (David Martin)
6. Role and status of the Chair of Council

David Martin introduced this paper. Currently, the job description outlined in Rule 2 section 6.3 is unclear and requires more information. In the current system, the Union Council Chair is sometimes treated as both a Voluntary Officer and/or Student Leader, despite not being described as either in the Rules. This could lead to confusion regarding some Union processes (for example, disciplinary procedures). 

In order to clear up any ambiguity, it was decided that the job description for the Chair will be moved and expanded. The generic job description for Student Leaders (Rule 6 section 1) will apply to the Union Council Chair, and the individual in this position will not be able to hold any other position. It will also be written into the rules (specifically Rule 10) that the Chair can be subject to recall or discipline.  

The committee decided not to create a deputy chair position at this time, but to review it in future if necessary.

Action Move Rule 2-section 6.3 to the end of Rule 2 and expand; apply Rule 6-section1 to the Union Council Chair (David Martin, Guy Drury)
Action In Rule 10-section 2, add 'Union Council Chair' to the list of applicable positions (David Martin, Guy Drury)
Action In Rule 7-section 6.1a, add 'Union Council Chair' to the list of applicable positions (David Martin, Guy Drury)
Dates
7. Dates of Summer democratic events

David Martin introduced this paper. Due to the unusually short Summer term, where Summer Elections, AGM and  Open Union Council must take place, it has been proposed that the voting period for both elections and AGM (proxy voting period) should coincide. This will hopefully boost student engagement and participation. 

The committee moved to approve the proposed dates; 2 voted for, 0 voted against and 0 abstained.

Decision The proposed dates (see paper) were approved by the committee
Action Inform Lorna Reavley of the Summer Election dates (David Martin, Guy Drury)
Elections
8. Report: Spring Elections

David Martin introduced this paper and asked for any comments or questions.

  • Jaki suggested that in future, the election reports should include a list of winning candidates.
  • Jade asked if the report only included information from the start of the election period as it states that all Sabbatical positions were contested; VP Sports Development was not by the time voting had opened. Guy answered that technically, all elections were contested due to RON, but noted that this was inconsistent and would correct it.
  • Jade noted that, at the time of the meeting, the Union Councillor and Student Trustee results data was still not present on the website. David Martin explained that he had asked for this information to be made available; he will ask again for this to happen.
Action ensure Union Councillor and Student Trustee results data is on website (David Martin)
9. Student leader elections

Jade Head presented her paper to the committee. Jade briefly explained the paper and concluded that holding the Sabbatical and Student Leader (SL) Elections seperately may increase both student engagement and the number of nominations for SL positions. She added that the data shows a decline in number of SL nominations, and in her opinion, this may partly be due to joint elections; she further explained that the decline may also be due to other underlying issues that need to be addressed.

  • David Martin read out David Gilani's (DG) response to Jade's paper in which DG explains that rather than looking just at the SL elections, we should look at the bigger picture; if students are not engaged in elections, it would be more beneficial to investigate why this is. He recommeneded that instead of passing a policy on this straight away, there should be a formal discussion on this topic, outlining what it is the Union want to achieve.
  • David Martin proposed that a suitable course of action would be to review all Student Leader positions, with a view to draft up a policy regarding their elections.

Jade was happy for her policy proposal to not go Union Council during this academic year.    

Action Review the Student Leader positions, with the possibility of drafting up a policy regarding Student Leader elections (David Martin, Megan Downing, Jade Head)
Any other business
10. Date of next meeting

There was no other business and so the meeting closed at 10.30am.

The date of the next meeting is still to be confirmed. Due to the unusual short Summer term, it is a possibilty that the Democracy Zone may need to meet up before term starts; committee members will be emailed with more information about this. If necessary, business will have to be conducted over email communication. 

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