Democracy Zone (17th September 2014)


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Name of Committee Democracy Zone
Date and time 17th September 2014, 13:00
Place The Board Room
Present Members
Union President David Mendoza-Wolfson
Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries Megan Downing
Clubs and Societies Officer Chris McGeehan
In Attendance
(non-voting officers and staff)
Union Council Chair Ben Morton
Director of Engagement Nickola Moore
Democracy Assistant Katie Ng
Democracy Coordinator Guy Drury
Chief Executive Scott Mccarthy
Non-members Katie Lightowler

Actions and Decisions

Decision Disqualify the Solent candidate for Nightline social secretary, and vacate their election.
Decision The working group for the SL Review Project (see item for details).
1. Apologies and attendance

Megan Downing welcomed everyone to the first Democracy Zone Committee meeting of the new academic year. No apologies were received and all members of the committee were present. 

The following Union members were also in attendance:

Emily Shepherd - Nightline Officer

Jade Head - Student Trustee

Katie Lightowler - VP Sports Development

2. Minutes from the previous meeting

The Committee reviewed the actions and decisions from the last meeting held on 30th May 2014. All actions were completed except the action attached to Item 7; Guy Drury informed the Committee that information explaining what is done in the event of a tie, during elections, will be added to the by laws. 

Decision-making processes
3. General Meeting: 17th October

Guy explained the background behind the General Meeting on 17th October. SUSU are planning events for the General Election happening in May 2015 and, in accordance with the Companies Act, SUSU must seek approval from its members for any political expenditure over £5000 to cover the cost of this project. He added that the General Meeting will be followed by an open discussion event with guest speakers being the Southampton MPs for Itchen, Romsey and Southampton Test.

Katie Lightowler asked what would happen if the meeting does not meet quoracy. Guy explained that quoracy is 250 members; if this is not reached within the first 30 minutes of the meeting then the meeting is adjourned. It is will then be held at a later date with at least seven days notice. If the second meeting does not reach quoracy in the first 15 minutes, the meeting will go ahead as planned. Staff are also looking into using proxy voting, similar to the AGM in May.

Emily Shepherd asked if it will it be possible for others to submit resolutions to the agenda once the meeting has been formally announced. Guy explained that the agenda is released at the same time as the notice of the meeting, and that in these circumstances, there would only be one item to discuss. However, if the situation arose where students submitted resolutions, there would then be a discussion about whether to include them in this meeting.   

Student groups
4. Update on affiliations and funding: 2013-14

Megan presented the annual Student Groups Report for 2013/14. Last year, SUSU affiliated 40 student groups which brings the total number of groups to 310.

Chris McGeehan asked if there was an update on the Student Groups' Economy Project, particularly on how many groups we can support. Nickola Moore answered that a report on this project was being taken to the Trustee Board meeting in November; the finance department are currently working on the figures.

Megan thanked Katie Ng work her work on the report.

5. Autumn Elections

Megan presented the group with the Autumn Elections Proforma and By-law. Guy informed the group that Samrand Salih is no longer a student, and has therefore vacated his position as Student Trustee, and that this role is therefore being added to the Autumn Elections. The Course Rep data should be completed shortly.

Jade Head noted that the Sports Particiption Officer was a vacant position and asked if Lucy Dowdall had resigned. Megan answered that yes, she had resigned over the Summer period. Jade informed the group that the website ('SUSU Your Officer') still listed Lucy as a Student Leader. Staff will work to rectify this.

Guy informed the committee that David Mendoza-Wolfson has a conflict of interest with these elections and so will not be acting as Returning Officer (RO). VP Welfare, Beckie Thomas, has been suggested as a replacement as she is the Deputy. Emily asked if we could ask Lorna Reavley, who had been appointed RO last year; Guy explained that Lorna was appointed during the last academic year and that she is only expected to return Sabbatical elections. David further explained that during last year's first Union Council, the President was appointed RO for the Autumn Elections, and so it follows for this year for the President to be asked again. Due to the conflict of interest, the next step is to ask the Deputy. This request would have been taken to Union Council, however the elections period will have started before the first Union Council.

Katie Lightowler asked if these elections included the Athletic Union Committee (AUC); it was explained that those would be done at an AUC meeting.

The Autumn Elections by law was presented to the group. Guy drew the committee's attention to two additions that have been made. Firstly,  there is an added clause under Section 2, 2.3 which allows the RO to refuse to approve manifestos that appear to encourage drunken anti-social behaviour. Katie Lightowler asked who checks the manifestos and when; Guy explained that staff read through all of them before they are made public and flag up ones that are problematic, and the Deputy Returning Officer then makes a decision. Secondly, section 10.2 now formally requires that counts are run in accordance with 'How to conduct an election by the Single Transferable Vote' by the Electoral Reform Society, comonly known as "ERS 97", which is the standard form of STV used for SU elections.

Katie Lightowler asked if publicity posters for JCR candidates were checked; Guy explained that yes, posters should be brought to SUSU and stamped however it is dificult to check all posters that are put up as the election is across all halls of residence. Emily asked what the criteria was for getting posters approved; Guy explained that staff would use the same guidelines used for approving manifestos.  

  •  Note: The Autum Elections by-law is now available as a paper on this item.
6. Disqualification of a candidate: Social Secretary, Nightline

Emily asked why she had not been formally invited to this meeting. Megan responded saying she had assumed the information in the paper was sufficient enough to give clear context and background for the committee to make a decision, but she was happy for Emily to be here and invited her to provide more information about the situation. Emily explained that the summary in the paper was clear enough, and that the main issue was the misunderstanding of the rules regarding the elections during Nightline's AGM. Scott McCarthy asked if Solent University had their own Nightline service. Emily responded that they do not, however they do use our service and advertise it on their campus as their own. 

The committee discussed the rules regarding student groups and Megan asked them to vote on this matter. The committee decided to disqualify the candidate in question and vacate their election, leaving the validly-elected Southampton student as Social Secretary. This will now be brought to Union Council for final approval.     

Decision Disqualify the Solent candidate for Nightline social secretary, and vacate their election.
7. Student Leader Review: overview

Megan presented the paper to the group. Emily asked if a working group will be created to oversee the project; Nickola responded that one will be set up. Emily asked who will be taking the lead on the research; Megan said she would be lead on this project. The group then discussed whether Jade Head had also been mandated to lead this project as there was some confusion over her involvement in this project. David suggested that the committee outline the terms of reference for the core working group to avoid any confusion in the future. The group agreed to do this. It was decided that the working group will consist of the following members:

  • VP Democracy & Creative Industries
  • Union President
  • Jade Head
  • One Union Councillor elected at the next Union Council
  • One Student Leader elected at the next Union Council

The first meeting of the working group will take place shortly after the first Union Council (scheduled for 20th October).

Decision The working group for the SL Review Project (see item for details).
Any other business
8. Date of the next meeting

The next meeting has been set for Monday 10th November at 1.30pm in Meeting Room 2. Nickola Moore gave her apologies for this meeting as she will be unable to attend. 

The next meeting has been re-scheduled and will now take place on Friday 14th November at 1.30pm in Meeting Room 2.

There was no further business and the meeting closed at 1.35pm. 

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