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Union Council (19th October 2015)

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Name of Committee Union Council
Date and time 19th October 2015, 18:00
Place Senate, Building 37
Present Members
(voting)
Physical Sciences & Engineering Faculty Officer Giles Howard
Vice President Engagement Hannah Talbot
Chair of Council Jade Head
Vice President Student Communities Arun Aggarwal
Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries Kerry Sclater
Wellbeing Officer Mark Davidge
International Students' Officer Nancy Bui
Vice President Education Shruti Verma
Union Councillor Benjamin Dowling
Union President Ben Franklin
Vice President Sports Development Jamie Wilson
National Oceanography Centre (Site) Officer David Allwright
Postgraduate (Research) Students Officer Mike Allwright
Union Councillor Adam Turner
Medical Society President Iona Maxwell
Engineering & the Environment Faculty Officer Vinnie Sivadev
Vice President Welfare Sam Bailey
Union Councillor Philippa Pearce
Union Councillor Rebecca Lake
Union Councillor Kieran Reals
Union Councillor Alison Irwin
Intra-Mural Officer Christie Matthews
Ethics and Environment Officer Amy Paraskeva
Union Councillor Alexander Howard
Equality & Diversity Officer Caitlin Doyle
Health Sciences Faculty Officer Daniel Browning
Halls Officer Flora Noble
Clubs and Societies Officer Catriona Philip
Humanities Faculty Officer Frazer Delves
Union Councillor Zehong Au
Union Councillor Harriet Averill
Union Councillor Kelechi Nze
Union Councillor Arun Aggarwal
Union Councillor William Garside
Union Councillor Kokulan Mahendiran
In Attendance
(non-voting officers and staff)
Democracy Co-ordinator Guy Drury
Chief Executive Scott Mccarthy
Democracy Assistant Ed Baird
Absent with Apologies Union Councillor Naresh Krishna Gopikrishnan
Winchester Campus President Ryan Notman-Watt
Natural and Environmental Sciences Faculty Officer Yousra Hikal
Absent without Apologies Marc Goh
6pm Policy Ideas
1. Ideas Discussion session
Attached:
7pm Formal Business (quoracy: 23)
2. Welcome and apologies

Jade Head (Chair of Council) welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the year.

3. Minutes of the last meeting

The Chair explained that the actions and decisions from the last meeting had been ratified via email over the summer holiday, but approval was still needed for the full minutes. The minutes were approved, on an electronic vote (Yes: 25, No: 1, Abstentions: 2).

The Chair informed Council of two matters of electonic business that had been conducted prior to this meeting. The first was concerning a change in the title of the Winchester (Site) Officer to Winchester Campus President. The second was concerning an approval of expenditure to refurbish the Cube. The vote counts were:

 

4. Matters arising from the previous meeting
MEMBERSHIP AND FINANCIAL
5. Membership matters

a. Close of nominations for Union Councillors, speeches and opening of voting

There were 21 Union Councillor places available and 9 nominations.

b. Election of student representatives on University Committees

Senate: There were three positions available and five candidates: Kokulan Mahendiran, Frazer Delves, Darren Richardson, Alex Hovden and Daniel Browning. Kokulan Mahendiran, Frazer Delves and Darren Richardson were elected.

Military Education Committee: Adam Turner was the only candidate, and was elected.

c. Appointment of Sabbatical Officers to Zone Committees

The following appointments of additional Sabbatical Officers to sit on the Zone Committees were made by a clear show of voting cards: Student Life Zone: Vice-President Engagement; Sports Development Zone: Vice-President Democracy & Creative Industries; Sustainability Zone: Vice-President Education; Democracy Zone: Vice-President Sports Development; Education Zone: Vice-President Welfare; Creative Industries Zone: Vice-President Student Communities; External Engagement Zone: Vice-President Student Communities; Student Communities Zone: Vice-President Education.

d. Student representatives pool for Disciplinary Committee

It was explained that members of Union Council will be selected at random as and when required from a list of Union Council members to sit on this Committee. Members wishing to opt out were asked to email democracy@susu.org.

e. Appointment of an External Trustee

The appointment of Anne-Marie Drummond as an External Trustee was approved on a clear show of voting cards.

f. Staff-Student Partnership Agreement review

The Chair explained that any student interested in being part of the panel reviewing the Staff-Student Partnership Agreement should email democracy@susu.org.

g. Close of voting for Union Councillors and announcements of results

The candidates were: Arun Aggarwal, Harriet Averill, Anthony Carter, Benjamin Dowling, Kelechi Nze, Bruno Russell, Adam Turner, David Nguyen, Alison Irwin.

As they were the only candidates eligible for certain of the reserved places, Benjamin Dowling and Anthony Carter were elected automatically. Harriet Averill and Arun Aggarwal were elected in the first round of voting. Alison Irwin, Kelechi Nze and Adam Turner were elected in the second round of voting.

h. Election of Union Council representatives to Zone Committees

Democracy: There were two candidates and Frazer Delves and Giles Howard were elected.

Sustainability: There were two candidates and Frazer and Kokulan Mahendiran were elected.

Student Communities: There were three candidates: Daniel Browning, Harriet Averill and Arun Aggarwal. Harriet Averill and Arun Aggarwal were elected.

Creative Industries: There were two candidates and Will Garside and Trini Philip were elected.

Education: There were four candidates: Zehong Au, Kelchi Nze, Rebecca Lake and Alex Howard. Zehong Au and Kelechi Nze were elected.

External Engagement: There were two candidates and Flora Noble and Nancy Bui were elected.

Sports Development: There were two candidates and Kieran Reals and Adam Turner were elected.

Student Life: There were two candidates and Alison Irwin and Daniel Browning were elected.

i. Resignations

The Chair announced that Emma-Louise Dolman (Winchester Officer) had decided not to take up her position. This position, re-named to Winchester Campus President, has been filled in a by-election by Ryan Notman-Watt.

Hattie Hall (Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences Faculty Officer), Pyotr Kurzin (Union Councillor) and Ellie Kilby (Union Councillor) had resigned their positions. The by-election for the Faculty Officer position was underway, and the Union Councillor places had been filled earlier in the meeting.

6. Financial matters

a. Financial Schedule

Ben Franklin presented this paper, setting out which bodies and individuals can authorise different levels of expenditure.

  • The Financial Schedule was approved on a clear show of voting cards.
POLICY
7. Feedback & decisions from today's ideas session

Societies for the future: Anjit Aulakh reported back that the group had discussed the idea that Groups Hub could be used to check if a society is no longer active. As well as this, there was also a discussion about making a deadline for societies to hold their AGMs and encouraging societies to meet this deadline. Council referred this idea to Trini Philip (Student Groups Officer).

Menu changes: Hannah Talbot reported that the group had discussed communication problems in SUSU and agreed that SUSU could work on doing more to improve communication to students through blogs. Council referred this idea to Trustee Board to be discussed further.

Streaming SUSUtv live in the Union Building: Anjit Aulakh reported back that there was a current policy ensuring that Surge must be played in all SUSU venues at all times, which might contradict SUSUtv playing live. It was also discussed that if SUSUtv was allowed to be streamed live, then other student groups might also want the same opportunity. There was also the added complication of other contractual issues, and therefore Council referred this idea to Kerry to go away and look into the logistics of the idea.

MSC certified food supplies: Ben Franklin reported back that they had discussed the idea that the policy was too specific where a procurement policy might be more appropriate and therefore Council referred this idea to the Ethics and Environment Committee.

Invest Positive UoS: Sam Bailey reported back that they had discussed the University’s available money and whether it should be invested into things that help society. This presented difficulties such as damaging relations with large graduate employers and partners. Council approved the recommendation to consider the policy in this meeting.

Postgraduate research students and eligibility to be Faculty Officers: Kerry Sclater reported back they had discussed the possible conflict of interest when a PGR Faculty Officer could be teaching undergraduate students. There was agreement that that if PGR students could not be Faculty Officers then it was crucial that they were still represented, which would already feed into the work Shruti and Anjit were planning with the new PGR representation system. As implementing this idea would need a rule change, Council referred this to Democracy Zone Committee.

Private dance sessions in Union Spaces: Sam Bailey reported back that the discussion had focused on the limited space in the Union and at present there is no limit on bookings. Several ideas such as only being able to book a week in advance or a restriction on how many hours an individual could book. Issues with this included individuals booking on behalf of a society. Council referred this idea to Kerry.

Volunteers during Freshers’ Week: Anjit Aulakh reported back that they had discussed the difference between paid helpers and volunteers doing a similar job. It was emphasised that the welfare of the volunteers was important and that the discussion will feed back into the Junior Common Room (JCR) review currently underway. Council referred this idea to Anjit.

Policy on quorum and decision making: Jamie Wilson reported that they had discussed the idea that students could declare when they are on placement, so as not to affect quoracy at meetings. A potential issue with this would be that decisions could end up being made with small numbers of people. Council approved this to be discussed as a policy in the same meeting.

Exploring ways SUSU can promote existing language opportunities to students: Ben Franklin reported back that they had agreed that SUSU could do more to promote language opportunities both from SUSU and lobby the University to provide more opportunities. Council referred this idea to Anjit to tie in with his work on the international project currently underway.

Supporting a Living Wage for those under the age of 25: Frazer Delves reported back that they had discussed that it was bad that under 25s had not been considered in the Living Wage proposals by the Government. During the discussion there were concerns that it might be hypocritical for SUSU to be advocating for a Living Wage for under 25s without offering one themselves. Council referred this idea to Trustee Board.

8. Action from previous ideas session

Most of the ideas from the previous meeting 8th June 2015 came as Policy Proposals in the same meeting. The Chair explained that the discussion about the Ideas and Open Discussion Facebook group will be dealt with later in the meeting in the Questions to Officers section.

9. Policy proposals

a. Invest Positive UoS (1516P1)

Proposed: Mike Allwright, Postgraduate (Research) Officer; Maddie Cava-Beale.

Speaking for, Mike Allwright stated that the policy intends to lobby the University to commit to not investing its endowment fund in industries considered to be damaging. An open letter had been published in the Wessex Scene, supported by societies, students and University staff, and he said that as tuition fees accounted for around 40% of the University’s endowment fund, Union members should have some say in how it could be spent.

Speaking against, Kokulan Mahendiran argued that the Proposal would generalise industries and gave the example of energy companies who themselves invest in renewable energy. He also stated that there were economic considerations that need clarification and that the policy could be damaging to alumni relations, and therefore argued that the views of the entire student body should be heard before deciding, as this decision affects a large number of students.

  • Darren Richardson moved Procedural Motion B (to take the proposal in specific parts), namely to take Believes 5 separately.

Speaking for the Procedural Motion, Darren said that whilst he agreed with the Proposal, he felt that this particular part did not represent the view of the student population. Speaking against the Procedural Motion, Sebastian Odell argued that there is a distinction between the arms trade and the military.

  • Mike moved Procedural Motion D (to move to an informal discussion) in order to discuss whether to take the Proposal in parts. On a clear show of voting cards, this was not passed.
  • On a clear show of voting cards, the original Procedural Motion (to take the Proposal in parts) was not passed.

Debate resumed on the Policy Proposal.

  • Daniel Browning moved Procedural Motion D (to move to an informal discussion).

Speaking for, Daniel said that there were multiple points that people would want to contribute. There were no speeches against.

  • On a clear show of voting cards, the Procedural Motion was passed.

Sebastian continued, using BAE as an example of a company that because of the corruption investigations into them, should not be invested in by the University. Darren said that BAE was not specifically mentioned in the Proposal, and made the point that companies similar to BAE who were not involved in corruption allegations would be tarnished by association.

Amy Paraskeva said that there was a distinction between taking money away and investing positively, and that as most of the endowment fund is in cash at the moment, no money will be taken away from companies, but rather invested in other companies.

Mike said that he believed that it was questionable for the University, having a large international and diverse community, to invest in companies arming conflicts around the world.

  • Sam Bailey moved Procedural Motion C (to refer the question to another body or person), namely to refer the policy to Sustainability Zone Committee.

Speaking for the Procedural Motion, Sam said that there was a lot of discussion on several of the points and that the Proposal was not ready to go to Union Council, and a more informed discussion could take place at the Zone.

Speaking against, Mike stated that due to climate change talks in Paris, and the fact that 99% of the money the University has available to invest is currently in cash, it would be a good time to pass the Proposal. Mike also said that the debate would still be the same even after having been through a further discussion.

  • On a clear show of voting cards, the Procedural Motion was passed, and the question was referred to Sustainability Zone Committee.

b. Exploring ways that SUSU can promote existing language opportunities to students (1516P2)

Proposed: Frazer Delves, Humanities Faculty Officer; George Hope, Modern Languages Academic President.

This Proposal was not moved, as it had been referred to Anjit Aulakh (Vice-President Student Communities) earlier in the meeting.

c. Policy on quorum and decision making (1516P3)

Proposed: Giles Howard, Physical Sciences and Engineering Faculty Officer; Shruti Verma, Vice-President Education.

Speaking for, Giles stated that there were two faculties with students frequently on placements and those in elected positions negatively affect quoracy. He explained that the policy acknowledges the issue and does not have a specific solution, but mandates the Vice-President Democracy and Creative Industries to see how a solution might be implemented, for example through a rule change.

Speaking for the amendment, Daniel agreed that the policy was a good idea, but the policy should recognise a larger problem - that when the two Faculty Officers cannot attend, that’s over 20% of the student body that are not represented.

There were no further speeches.

  • The amendment was passed on a clear show of voting cards.

There were no further speeches.

  • The Proposal, as amended, was passed on a clear show of voting cards.

d. Amendment to the Complaints Procedure (Rule 8) (1516R2)

Proposed: Kerry Sclater (Chair), on behalf of Democracy Zone Committee

Kerry explained that the policy was a simple change to the Complaints Procedure following discussions with the University.

  • The Rule amendment was passed on a clear show of voting cards.

e. Emergency Policy Proposal: Should we have a 24-hour library? (1516P4)

Proposed: Shruti Verma, Vice-President Education; Sam Bailey, Vice-President Welfare

Sam explained the context behind the University’s decision to have an extended 24-hour library and that he and Shruti did not feel that they could adequately represent all students on the issue and therefore argued that a referendum would be best suited to gauge the student opinion. Sam stated that the library affects every student, whether they use it or not and emphasised that the Sabbatical Officers are not against the 24-hour library, but merely want to ask the student body what they think. Furthermore, Sam stated that no matter what the outcome of the referendum is, he will work with the University to ensure that welfare provisions are properly considered.

  • Shruti moved Procedural Motion A (to give the current speaker an extension)

Speaking for the Procedural Motion, Shruti explained that she wanted to give Sam another minute. There were no speeches against.

  • The Procedural Motion was passed, on a clear show of voting cards.

Sam continued by explaining that the Sabbatical Officers had all agreed to remain impartial.

Speaking against the policy, Kokulan Mahendiran said that whilst he was not against the welfare concerns, he did not feel that a referendum was a very good use of SUSU’s resources. He added that a referendum would likely just provide an answer that is already known.

  • Daniel Browning moved Procedural Motion E (to move to an informal discussion)

Speaking for the Procedural Motion, Daniel said that there were points that people wanted clarity on and an informal discussion would be best for this. There were no speeches against.

  • The Procedural Motion was passed on a clear show of voting cards.

Darren Richardson said that in the past, ECS had Building 59 (Zepler) open 24 hours a day but the University mandated the department not to continue this due to welfare reasons and noted that it seems odd that welfare doesn’t appear to be an issue for the 24-hour library.

Shruti, giving more context as to why a referendum has been proposed, said that they did not want to presume that a 24-hour library was something that students would automatically want.

Ben Franklin said that if there was a no vote, there was the possibility of reputational damage to SUSU if the University go ahead with the 24-hour library anyway.

Kieran Reals asked about what would happen in the result of a yes or no vote. Shruti said that the Sabbatical team would inform the University of the result, along with the data, giving them the mandate about what students do or don’t want.

Kieran stated that there was already a 24-hour library during exam time and wanted clarification on what Shruti thinks is different with the ongoing 24-hour library. Shruti said that there don’t seem to be any concrete solutions in the University’s paper as to solving issues like food and cleaning.

Alison Irwin asked whether the University had properly thought through the idea. Sam said that he personally believes that the University have not fully thought through implementing the 24-hour library and that’s why the Sabbatical Officers have picked up on some issues that the University seems to have not considered.

David Allwright said that whilst it is frustrating that the University has put SUSU in a difficult position, the average student is unlikely to care enough about the issue and therefore a referendum is not necessary.

Kerry Sclater said that SUSU gets a lot of criticism from students about being out of touch and not listening to what students want. She stressed that we should seize this opportunity to ask students what they think and a referendum is a good opportunity to reach out to students.

Harriet Averill asked about welfare provisions in the past during the trial periods. Sam said that he wasn’t sure about past provisions, but it was important to recognise the gaps in the current proposal.

Daniel said even though he expected the outcome of the referendum to be yes, it would be wrong to assume this outcome.

Jamie Wilson said that issues have been raised before during the trial periods that have not been resolved and added that it is two years ago since the trial period started and student views could have changed dramatically.

Frazer Delves said that he believed that a referendum is the best way to ask students what they think and this policy is good because it still gives the Sabbatical Officers a mandate in the event of a yes vote.

Frazer also asked how campaign teams would work. Sam said that Democracy Zone Committee will set out how the conduct and rules of the referendum.

  • Daniel moved Procedural Motion D (to move to the vote on the Proposal).

Speaking for, Daniel said that both sides of the argument have been presented and discussed and the same points are being raised now.

Speaking against, Frazer said that the informal discussion has been great to give people an opportunity to ask questions, especially given that no ideas session had taken place. Frazer added that there had been lots of misinformation in the student media, and that a referendum is a really important issue and needs more discussion to make sure that everyone understands the implications.

  • On a clear show of voting cards, the Procedural Motion was passed.

Summing up, Shruti emphasised that she and Sam were not against the 24-hour library. She said that she believed that Union Council should not be making this important decision on behalf of 23,000 students and that a referendum gives students a voice. Shruti also reiterated that no matter what the outcome of the referendum, the Sabbatical Officers would continue to work with the University on the issue.

  • On an electronic vote, the proposal was passed (Yes: 24, No: 7, Abstain: 2).
ACCOUNTABILITY AND PRAISE
10. Union Council Stars

Flora Noble (JCRs Officer) was highly commended for her work over Freshers’ especially considering the larger intake.

Harriet Averill (Connaught JCR President) was awarded the Union Star for doing a brilliant job as president of Connaught, despite facing numerous difficulties.

Union Films were awarded the Student Groups Star for their constant hard work and always being friendly and willing to answer any questions even when very busy before screenings.

Alex Hovden also thanked everyone who had been involved in Freshers’.

11. Zone Reports and updates

The Chair explained that a new structure for Zone Reports was currently being decided, and therefore for the time being, they would not be produced.

Kerry Sclater gave an update on the Enhancing SUSU Volunteering project, explaining that a survey had gone out to volunteers, to make sure that they receive as much support as possible. Kerry explained some of the key findings and said that the findings would be useful in informing future work. This would go back to Democracy Zone Committee and they would continue to build on this and look into making it an annual survey.

12. Sabbatical Officer plans

Due to time constraints, it was proposed to take the plans as read, and not require each Officer to present them. On a clear show of voting cards, this was approved.

The Chair asked in turn whether anyone had any questions or concerns for any of the reports. Each report was passed on a clear show of voting cards.

13. Officer Reports and questions

a. Attendance of Union Council members and Student Trustees

There was no attendance to report at this stage in the year.

b. Officer Reports

Due to time constraints, it was proposed to take the Reports as read, and not require each Officer to present them. On a clear show of voting cards, this was approved.

c. Questions to Officers

Q1: Hannah Talbot explained that the Launch Pad will be launching again next year and there will be more details soon.

Q2: Shruti Verma said that all students are directed to the Are You Ready project with all the relevant induction information, but if some students were missing this then there might be a communication problem. Shruti resolved to pass on the feedback to the relevant people.

Q3: Shruti said that there isn’t aren’t any specific numbers on those affected by timetabling problems because timetabling are still adjusting. She emphasised that it is vital that all students are accommodated properly and that she has spoken to Timetabling about the problem areas but has yet to hear a response. Shruti also urged students to contact their academic representative or module coordinator, because if issues weren’t reported, nothing would be able to change. Ben added that he had brought this up at University Council and the University were expecting a reduction in attendance of 10%, which would free up space. Ben stated that major projects are underway at the University to address the issues with teaching and learning space.

Q4: Anjit Aulakh explained that the City Gateway JCR Committee were chosen in the same way as fresher reps.

Q5: Ben Franklin stated the 15p card charges continued to be unavoidable at the moment, and that signs have been put in the shop and with the new EPOS system. Customers can now use contactless payment, and the matter of the card charges would be carefully considered when renegotiating the card handling contract in the near future. Trustee Board have discussed the issue, and decided that the 15p card charge will remain for the time being, but updates will be provided as and when they occur.

Q6: Ben explained that the refurbishment of the Cube will free up space in other parts of the Union. The changes are unlikely to affect Union Films much but will mean that the Union will be able to hold events for performers and offer more opportunities to student groups.

Q7: Ben reported that he had met the new Vice Chancellor, and that he seems refreshingly positive and keen to help support the Union.

Q8: Ben said that the problem with SUSU Ideas and Open Discussion Facebook group was the feeling that Sabbatical Officers are mandated to reply to all students. He added that the Facebook group is not transparent because things can be deleted and that the website is a more obvious solution for people who want answers and further explanation. Dan asked about the action plan mentioned in the previous discussion and Ben said that You Make Change was the plan. Mike asked whether it would be better to be completely silent on the group, Ben said that when tagged it was difficult to ignore, but that all the Sabbatical Officers had all now removed themselves from the group.

Q9: Ben will follow up the issue of contractors in the Cube with the relevant staff and will make sure this is communicated back to students.

OTHER BUSINESS
14. Any other business

There was no further business.

15. Date and time of the next meeting

The meeting finished at 10:30pm. The date and time of the next Union Council is 8 December 2015, at 6:00pm, in the Senate Room.

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