Democracy Zone (14th November 2014)


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Name of Committee Democracy Zone
Date and time 14th November 2014, 13:30
Place Meeting Room 2
Present Members
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)
Union Council Chair Ben Morton
Director of Engagement Nickola Moore
Democracy Assistant Katie Ng
Democracy Coordinator Guy Drury
Absent with Apologies Union President David Mendoza-Wolfson
Chief Executive Scott Mccarthy
Non-members Jade Head

Actions and Decisions

Action Add the Autumn Election By-law to the website. Guy Drury
Decision Approved the membership of the Sabbatical Term Limits Working group (see Item 5 for details)
Decision Approved the Nightline By-law with changes outlined in minutes (see Item 7)
Decision The Mature Students and Student Parent Network by-law was approved.
1. Apologies and Attendance

Megan welcomed everyone to the meeting. Apologies were received from David Mendoza-Wolfson, Emily Shepherd and Scott McCarthy. Members were informed that Rian Kraether Goettert would be joining at 2pm.

The following Union members were also in attendance:

William Cable, Shruti Verma and Jade Head.

Megan informed the group that she has decided to switch Item 3 and 4 around so that attendees who are required at the Education Zone Committee at 2pm are able to participate in the discussion about Spring Election dates. She added that Emily has asked that her paper, Item 6, be removed from the agenda, to be discussed at the next Democracy Zone Committee meeting as she is unable to make this meeting. 

2. Minutes from the previous meeting

The committee reviewed the minutes from the last meeting held on 17th Sepetmber. Chris asked if the Autumn Election By-laws could be added to the website as they are not available through the minutes webpage; Megan said this can and will be done for future reference.

The committee voted to approve the minutes; 3 voted for. The minutes were approved. 

Action Add the Autumn Election By-law to the website. (Guy Drury)
Student Groups
3. Student Groups affiliation update

Chris presented this paper. He added that the number of Student Groups will decrease after the next Student Groups committee meeting as there are a number of groups to be disaffiliated. 

4. Spring Elections dates

Megan presented the group with this paper and asked for thoughts and questions about the changes being proposed, specifically increasing the campigning period. A group discussion followed:

  • Some candidates will see the extension of the campiagn period as an opportunity to camapign for longer and not distribute their time between their degree and other commitments; this will heavily depend on the individual. However, one candidate can influence the actions of others and, rather than decreasing the amount of stress it may increase it as candidates engage in competitive campaigning. Megan explained that there will be more adivice available for students and that welfare advice will be included in election promotional material. Also, if nominations are open earlier students will be able to express an interest in running; we can then target these individuals with tailored advice on welfare during the election period. Furthermore, SUSU will be contacting the University and informing them of the elections in the hope that they will assist in setting up a support system for candidates in their faculties. In order for this to be a success, all faculties will need to be involved in this. 
  • Extending the campaign period may further alienate disengaged students who already find the whole election period a nuisance. Megan replied that marketing about the elections will be staggered and start sooner (before Christmas). The type of campaigning candidates will be allowed to do can also be staggered e.g. week 1 - online only, week 2 - posters etc. This will lessen the intensity of campaigning and marketing, and reduce voter fatigue.
  • There is only just over one week between the end of January exams and the close of nominations. This does not give candidates enough time to research the Officer role, write a manifesto and nominate themselves. It may enourage students to put the elections before their studies which SUSU should not encourage. Megan agreed with this point and replied that she will look into pushing the timetable back to allow more time after the end of exams; possibly moving the Results Night as well.
  • If we are adding more time into the election period, could it be added during pre-nomination stage? Students interested in running can fully consider the role and what it entails and have the option to withdraw a nomination before a lengthy campaign period. 
  • To further discourage competitive campaigning, we should use marketing to encourage voting and not make candidates responsible for promoting voting. 

Shruti Verma and William Cable left the meeting.

Rian Kraether Goettert arrived.

Following on from the discussion, the group felt that the paper needed to provide more detailed information e.g. timetables for staggered marketing materials and candidate campaigning. The group felt that the paper as whole  concentrated too much on voter turnout and not enough on candidate welfare, which was the main reason for extending the campign period. An updated paper will be brought to the next meeting. 

5. Sabbatical Term Limits (re-runners)

Jade presented this paper. She noted that there should be a change in the paper; in the table outlining deadlines on page two, the working group should be established by December 8th 2014 (Union Council) and not the end of November 2014. 

Nickola suggested that we should invite some experts to help with the formation of the survey. Jade agreed that would be a good idea. 

After discussion, the committee decided that the working group should consist of the following members:

  • Megan Downing  (VP DCI)
  • Jade Head
  • Emily Shepherd
  • 1 x impartial student
  • 2 x students who have declared that they are for proposing a limit
  • 2 x students who have declared that they are against proposing a limit 

Any student will be able to nominate themselves during Union Council after declaring their opinion on the matter. 

The committee voted on this decision; 4 voted for approving this membership. This will now be taken to the next Union Council for final approval.

Decision Approved the membership of the Sabbatical Term Limits Working group (see Item 5 for details)
6. Role of Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries

To be discussed at the next meeting.

7. Nightline by-law

Guy presented this paper for approval.

  • Jade asked if section 2.5(d) was too strongly worded and asked the group for their opinions. On review of the rules, Guy explained that this section will have to be removed as it is not possible to revoke life membership.
  • Jade queried section 3.3 where it states that 'from 1st of May, the Nightline Officer Elect shall become a voting member of the Nightline Sub-Committee'. She asked if this is allowed. 

Katie Lightowler left the meeting

  • Chris noted that the By-law was missing a description of quoracy. Guy advised that the following sentence be added to section 5.4 - 'quoracy is at least half of the voting members'.

The committee voted on the following changes:

  • To remove section 2.5(d); 3 voted to approve
  • To keep 3.3; 3 voted to approve
  • To add a line in section 5 about quoracy; 3 voted to approve.

The committee then voted to conditionally approve the by-law with the changes outlined above; 3 voted for. The Student Life Committee will now be presented with this by-law for further approval. 


Decision Approved the Nightline By-law with changes outlined in minutes (see Item 7)
8. Mature Students & Student Parent Network

Guy presented this paper.

  • Chris noted a spelling error in the fourth paragraph down under Introduction; it should read 'alleviate the pressures on these students'.

The By-law 

After discussion, the following amendments were proposed:

  • Section 4 to include a line on quoracy.
  • Section 3.1 and 3.2 require name changes; it should read Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator.
  • Section 5.4 requires a reference to the General Meeting elections by-law.

The committee voted to approve the By-law with these amendments; 3 voted for.

Chris asked for advice on how he should take this to the Student Groups Committee. Guy explained that Mature Society will become disafiliated and Mature Students and Student Parents Network will replace it and be 'adopted' by SUSU to become a Union Group, similar to Nightline and the Media Groups.  

Decision The Mature Students and Student Parent Network by-law was approved.
Any other business
9. Date of the next meeting

There was no other business to discuss and so the meeting closed at 3pm. The date of the next meeting is Thursday 27th November at 3pm in Meeting Room 2. 

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