Union Senate (15th March 2018)


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Name of Committee Union Senate
Date and time 15th March 2018, 18:00
Present Members
Senator Giles Howard
Vice President Sports Stephen Gore
Scott Mccarthy
Vice President Welfare Samantha Higman
Vice President Student Communities Arun Aggarwal
Vice President Education Samuel Dedman
Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries Evie Reilly
Charlie Morris
Ellis Murrell
Chair of Senate Cecile Howard
Laura Barr
Senator Kimberly Goodell
Absent with Apologies Senator Danny Kunda
Petra Jones
Senator George Hart
Absent without Apologies Union President Flora Noble
Sports Development Zone Representative Olivia Owen
Senator Luke Taylor
Senator Qasim Hussain

Actions and Decisions

Decision Minutes of the previous meeting were unanimously approved.
Action Arun to include International Masters students in talks over housing difficulties students face if they don't study during the traditional September to August timeframe.
Action Sam to look into the statistics around paper straw usage and availability.
Action Evie to investigate the allocation of clubs and societies to different zones and whether this should be included in one of the planned reviews of Union processes.
Decision The Union President, Flora Noble should be taken to a Disciplinary Hearing for non-attendance at a required Union Senate meeting.
Action Attached the slides referred to in the meeting that show the trickle-up process from zones to Union Senate.
Action Senators should be invited to the You Make Change meeting just before the next Union Senate meeting.
Action The first 4 sections of Rule 10: Praise and support for members and officers should be brought to Union Senate.
Decision To hold two more Union Senate meetings this year on the following dates: Tuesday 17 April and Thursday 17 May.
Action Steve to hold a meeting to discuss how the Union should address hesitancy from sports teams during the Sexual Consent Awareness campaign.
Action Action no. 4 of the previous Union Senate meeting to be taken to the next: Flora to contact Surrey Union's Chief Executive to ask how students were effected by the restructure they had.
1. Welcome and apologies

The Chair of Senate, Cecile opened the meeting and confirmed who was present in the room from the sabbatical team and the Senators. Cecile informed those present that the Union President was not present and that apologies had been sent from a staff member at the Union.



2. Minutes from the previous meeting

Cecile asked if members of Union Senate had any amendments to make to the minutes of the previous meeting. There were no amendments and so Cecile then asked for voting members to confirm approval of the minutes. 

Decision Minutes of the previous meeting were unanimously approved.
Senate Reports and Papers
3. Reports from the Sabbatical Officers

Full reports from the sabbatical team can be found attached to the minutes. In the meeting, each member of the team gave a 5-minute summary as below:

Sam Dedman : VP Education

  • The main concern for the Education Zone at the moment is the ongoing UCU Industrial Action. The zone voted to support the UCU and have remained in frequent contact
  • Working with the University on their mitigating factors and ensuring that they are doing all they can for students so they will still get their degrees.
  • There will be a further 14 days of industrial action going forward.
  • TEF Submission for the University, who are also working on assessment of student feedback and disclosing their financial records.
  • The Education team have also responding to the University restructure. Currently they have a 3 tiered academic structure but will be changing this to include a School layer and creating a 4 tiered system. This will come into effect very soon which has resulted in an extensive project in changing the Union's Academic Structure. A new layer of representation will be added to match the University.
  • Currently the Union is working with around 450 representatives which is very positive, co-option went very well after the Autumn Elections too.
  • On the topic of printing, although not able to report much yet as information was still confidential, Sam was able to confirm that the University were taking the pricing structure for students very seriously and hoped that at the next meeting of Union Senate he would be able to provide details of a completely new pricing structure.
  • Study space survey closed and provided some really good feedback from students. From this, the Union will be looking at Bar 2 over the summer vacation period and what can be done to make it into a more appropriate study space.
  • Sam took a moment to thank all of the reps and the staff in the Education zone for their fantastic work.


Arun Aggarwal: VP Student Communities

  • Visited Malaysia to see the USMC as part of a University review for Quality Standards and Assurance (QSA). We met the students, staff and academics there and gained a lot of insight into how we can help taylor our offering to all our sites.
  • The Culture festival is going really well, it is a two-week period where we celebrate both international culture and the arts.
  • Holi had to be moved to April due to the snow.
  • Global Village was held on the Concourse and was a chance for different cultural societies to come together and talk about themselves and their experiences. The event was very busy and we managed to engage over 30 societies.
  • The Persian Fire jump was also a big success and managed to engage with the wider community, which is one of the zones goals this year.
  • Luna New Year went really well and involved many of our international students who celebrate this date. It was a step towards the Union's goal of valuing this celebration as much as others such as Christmas.
  • Since Dan's resignation, I have taken on additional tasks. I am currently also working on fundraising and volunteering as well as sharing responsibility for Halls with VP Welfare
  • Currently we are trying to work more with mature students but this is not going well so far. I have been out an about trying to engage with students, I have been in the bridge with £10 vouchers which I wanted to give to students who came up with new ideas of how to engage with mature students but I only gave away 4. We held a drop-in but no one came. We will keep going with this project and will think of more ways to engage with mature students.
  • Things to come include the EVAs, working with the University to review its catering and painting the tunnel between building 40 and 42.


Sam Higman: VP Welfare

  • I had quite a lot of backlash about the gender-neutral toilets. I had spoken to the LGBT Society, Feminist Society and the EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) Team at the University about the best term to use. I use this feedback to decide on what we went with. There are now 5 gender-neutral toilets in building 42.
  • It is important to remember that the gender-neutral toilets are an interim solution as there will be building changes and new builds on campus. The University will be considering gender-neutral toilets in their new buildings.
  • Making more sustainable choices has made a lot of progress, since the AGM in November we have removed plastic straws from our outlets. We have paper ones behind the bars and reusable metal ones in the shop. We are currently looking at alternatives for plastic cutlery as well, which has come through as a You Make Change.
  • In the shop we have a One By One shelf. This is a whole shelving unit which has lots of nice sustainable things on them.
  • Following on from the Disability awareness campaign we are noticing that fairs aren't generally getting the interaction from students that we would like. We are looking into different ways we can encourage students to get involved in campaigns and awareness.
  • We are working on Healthy Relationships awareness, which will come under the Expect Respect banner. This awareness campaign will happen from the 16 to the 20 April, which will include an exhibition on the Concourse. We also have an idea for a wall of mirrors which students can write positive messages on and social media.
  • Pop up food stalls on sites is still a work in progress but Highfield have had a pop up stall on the concourse with Cheap as Chips. We have also been giving out samples of the new vegan ranges in the shop.
  • Welfare in sports is a joint project with Steve, we are reviewing this at the moment as we found that a lot of the submissions were not that good and not easy to display. Application forms for grant rounds also now ask what the club have done to meet their promise.
  • Sexual Consent Awareness, Burst the Bubble and National Mental Health Day. We have been doing mental health rooms in the Union, which have gone really well and are now being run regularly.
  • Housing fair when well, we put it in with the Refreshers fair, which increased engagement.
  • Harassment reporting tool is now live on the website.
  • LGBT month went really well, the concourse looked great.
  • International Women's Day, we did a March for this.


Steve Gore: VP Sport

  • We are still lobbying the University on gym membership. My focus is changing two key areas of their policy. The first is getting more value from the Sports Pass, it is great for AU clubs but intramural users aren't getting much value for £110. I'd like to see it become a super off-peak options instead. The second thing is to split the cost of membership over the year, at the moment students have to pay up to £230 in one lump sum but even if it was split in half this would help a lot. Sport and Wellbeing are on board with this idea and so we have come up with a costed plan for recurring card payments, which will be put in place next academic year.
  • To cope with the additional processing, they would like to hire a new member of staff but this is at odds with the current restructuring plans at the University who are trying not to hire any more staff to save costs. It did face resistance but should be going through. If the recurring payments are implemented, we are ready to roll out a petition.
  • Sports Experience Board: We are trying to create a unified department to keep logistics and strategy consistent between the University and the Union. We have taken a step back and are currently looking at the guiding principles for this.
  • Student Recruitment and International Relations: We met to talk about offering scholarships to athletes so we can actively recruit from sports areas we want to target. At the moment our sports rankings are at the mercy of whoever is studying at the University at the time but if we could target recruit we can improve our results.
  • AU Awards at graduation: The Vice-Chancellor made this a priority and so we should now be able to input received sports colours into Banner (student database) so that it can be read out at Graduation.
  • We are revisiting Welfare in Sport and will relaunch pledge cards once all our Welfare Reps have had Look After Your Mate training.
  • We won varsity by a big margin and a lot of people commented that it was the best Varsity they had been too. We also raised around £6,000 which we hope to use to cover the deficit in the sports budget caused by the raised BUCS fees and first aid costs.
  • LGBT Awareness away day in aid of charities including Stone Wall. Also, a gender-neutral sports tournament.
4. Questions from the Senators

Sam - VP Education was asked and answered the following quesitons:

Laura: Although you have done a lot of great work in bringing attention to the course reps and getting more engagement with the roles, there is still a clear distinction between them and students. What thoughts do you have on how to close the gap and ensure that students are working more with their course reps?

Sam: The advertising this year has been a step in the right direction and the Union has seen more students going to their course reps as a result. There are still gaps in the structure and places where students aren't engaging with their representatives. This is particularly true for Postgraduate Students as the Undergraduate rep structure doesn't work for them. As part of the restructure, the team are looking at introducing more Postgraduate representatives so there is a Research and Taught rep for each faculty. This will help as they can better understand the nuances of postgraduate study.

Also, the team will be looking at the profile of course reps as there are approximately 900 roles but the Union is only every able to fill around half of these each year. The course rep roles need to be tailored better to faculties and reduced so that the focus is on reliably filling them year on year.

Giles: How are the rep socials that you mention in your report going? Do you think that they are helping engage reps and helping them to understand that they are part of the Union?

Sam: For context, Sam explained that they held one successful social this year already, which was open to all the reps, and will be holding another tomorrow. They also held one just for faculty officers and academic reps that the University helped with funding.

The team were really keen to give something back to the reps and are happy to continue to give out free pizza and chocolate to show appreciation. The clothing that the Union gives to academic reps was organised and given out straight away this year. In fact, the Union ended up running out of course rep T-shirts completely which hasn't happened before.

The events are going well, our reps have to come to our buildings to attend which helps to building the connection between their role and the Union. The rep socials are working it's just a case of ensuring we have the funding in the future to continue running these events in a sustainable way.


Arun - VP Student Communities was asked and answered the following questions:

Giles: What are you hoping to achieve by having more of a presence at Avenue?

Arun: At the moment, we are mainly based in building 40 and 42 on Highfield and so this influences a lot of what we offer and can mean we are less representative of all our students. This can be seen in events such as Elections and can mean that many students don't know about SUSU. Getting a presence out at our sites will increase representation by engaging with students at their place of study and opening communications between them and our sabbatical team. We can't work alone in the office, we need students to tell us what they want us to work on for them.

Giles: Can you answer the same question but for Southampton General Hospital (SGH)?

Arun: What we have started at Winchester is to build up a presence there gradually and although it is not perfect yet we are there more for students by spending time on campus. We want this to be our approach at all our sites and to keep on improving this. The only presence SUSU has at the moment is through MedSoc and they do an amazing job but are only really able to engage with medical students. We need to make sure we are approaching all students such as nurses, allied professionals and midwives so they are represented academically and that they are being heard.

Kimberly: International Masters students finish their degrees at the end of September but don't graduate until beginning of December. What services can they access if they choose to stay in Southampton during this time and what can they be involved in with such as roles with the Union?

Arun: They can access most things. They will retain student status or graduand status until they graduate and so they will still have access to all the buildings, sports and wellbeing, the Stags and can still go to events.

Kimberly: Question extended: Housing contracts are usually 52 weeks, what offering is there to help these students to stay in Southampton beyond their contracts so they can attend their graduation?

Arun: We have heard of similar issues affecting our medical students, particularly fourth year nursing students who tend to have to stay on sofas during exams periods. Their courses also don't stick with the traditional September to August timeframe and so we are looking at what we can do to help them with housing issues. We are currently holding these discussions and so we will bring International Masters students into this as well.

The Chair of Senate asked for this to be actioned so that an update can be brought to the next Union Senate.


Evie: VP Democracy and Creative Industries was asked and answered the following questions:

Giles: What do you think is the most needed improvement for next year's Spring Elections?

Evie: I have a list of improvements. The main thing I found was that space wasn't booked in time and the media groups weren't spoken to early enough. There isn't a checklist of what needs to happen and by when. As the Spring Election is something that we do every year it shouldn't be a surprise when it comes around. There needs to be room for new sabbaticals to feed into the process and provide new ideas but the day to day business should happen regardless.

Giles: There have been many instances across the Union where we have noticed our rules are very clunky and don't match up properly. What is your plan to address this?

Evie: We plan to re-write the rules. This will not be me in a room alone, but we need to make sure that we review everything and make sure it all matches up and is something we can work with. We will be asking students to contribute in this process and we will be sending out certain rules to the groups they effect for feedback, such as asking Clubs and Societies to feed into the changes we make to the Clubs and Societies rule.

Fleur: In relation to the previous questions, will there be any constitutional review? I noticed there were errors in some of the rules, in particular the rule on Sabbatical officers?

Evie: Yes, the constitution is the overall name that is given to the rules and the articles together and so this we be involved in the rules review.


Sam: VP Welfare was asked and answered the following questions:

Laura: With the Healthy Relationships and self-empowerment campaigns, what are your long term plans to make sure the message will still be sent out after you leave?

Sam: Expect Respect is the over-arching awareness message that will look after Healthy Relationships and other campaigns. I would like to make sure that a zero tolerance message is included in the re-writing of the rules. We want to make sure that it does continue, we realised the Expect Respect doesn't just have to involve Sexual Consent, I've been working with Arun on the Harassment Reporting tool and the related campaign on racism should be included.

Laura asking on behalf of George: Other than bees, what plans do you have to help students to conserve wildlife on campus?

Sam: This is a really interesting question, I hadn't thought of it but would be really happy to talk to George about it after.

Arun: What can students do with the bees?

Sam: We are working on the best way to make sure that the bees are looked after consistently. They are currently in a padlocked area for safety but during the summer bees need to be checked on once a week to stop them from swarming. We would like to put together a core team to make sure they are being checked on and looked after. We would perhaps like to start introducing visits for students as well.

Charlie: As you are trying to move away from using fairs as they don't work for campaigns and awareness weeks, do you have any plans for Change Our World Week?

Sam: We would still like to do a fair but more like a food market than traditional stalls. Also, to have something more interactive like we had for the Housing Fair. We will also be holding an Open Bike Night at Glen Eyre.

Max: Union Films, behind Bar 3, should have paper straws available on request but after doing a lot of screenings in the last couple of weeks we were left with only 2. When we asked for more we were told they had run out, do we have any statistics on the usage or the availability of the straws?

Sam: I don't have the statistics on the usage of straws but I can find out for you.

The Chair of Senate asked for this to be put to action that Sam find out the usage statistics of paper straws.


Steve: VP Sport was asked and answered the following questions:

Laura: At the Sexual Consent Awareness week, we had a lot of reluctance from sports clubs to get involved, as they did not want negative attention on the club. This reaction highlights a wider issue within the sports community, how do you think you can deal with this in your position next year?

Steve: This is not something I was aware of but if I had known I would have been proactive in encouraging all societies to be involved. It is difficult to address issues if I'm made aware of them later but I will work on any problems if students come to me and let me know what is happening. Next year I will work to ensure that all clubs and societies are involved in Sexual Concern Awareness week.

The Chair of Senate asked that this be actioned and that a meeting takes place to discuss this hesitancy.

Giles: How have you found the reduction in your budget this year?

Steve: It has been hard, many clubs feel that they are entitled to grants especially if they have asked for money before and it has been approved. The budget that we have is meant to support members but not to fully fund the club. The sport zone has been growing year on year and clubs are expecting the same funding and more. This year we have had a 15% reduction, which has not helped us as many clubs are now finding themselves in debt. A lot of clubs just weren't ready to have grants reduced but if they come and talk to me they are more understanding. Clubs need to come to me in the future and talk to me about their finances before getting into difficulty. What we are likely to see is the debt being passed on to members in the future.

We are also looking at what the University can do to fund sport and seeing if they can reintroduce the Entitlement Card. Instead of spending a lot of money on new buildings that will benefit students in 10 years, what can the University do to help the experience of students who are currently here?

Evie: In addition, we are looking at not only changing the affiliation criteria but also looking at funding criteria. We should not have students who are unable to do what they love because we do not have enough to fund them. Many clubs rely on grants to run which is not an ideal position to be in; we need to address this and be firm with the University and how the cuts effect the student experience for the thousands of students involved in the Union.

Steve: I have slightly modified the grant guidelines for the Sport Zone for every grant round this year but I have still ended up running out. I haven't been able to fund perfectly good applications due to running out of money which is a first. I would also encourage clubs to come to me; I will be helping them to work through their finances so that they are left with a 5% surplus at the end of the year in case they miss grants next year.

Laura: Are you able to look into a recurring card payment that is monthly, as it isn't affordable for students to pay out large lump sums for membership to Sport and Wellbeing at the beginning of the year?

Steve: It isn't realistic to go in and ask for membership to be cheaper as Sport and Wellbeing have budgets and targets to meet. However, I will be lobbying high-level University staff as sport should not have to fund itself. I am hoping to ensure recurring card payments are introduced in the next academic year but starting with splitting the fee in half. There is a lot of financial risk in monthly membership that can be cancelled at any time, it may also affect students commitment to clubs. The reason it was introduced at Mayflower was to help increase use of this particular gym which wasn't seeing much engagement.

Action Arun to include International Masters students in talks over housing difficulties students face if they don't study during the traditional September to August timeframe.
Action Sam to look into the statistics around paper straw usage and availability.
Action Steve to hold a meeting to discuss how the Union should address hesitancy from sports teams during the Sexual Consent Awareness campaign.
5. Disciplinary Hearing

An anonymised report of the most recent Disciplinary Hearing was received by Union Senate and can be found attached.

6. Motion for Zone Structures and Societies

Actions from the previous Union Senate:

Firstly, the Chair of Senate reviewed the actions of the previous Union Senate meeting. 

1. Put together a working group that will review and make improvements to Union Senate. Work in this group is to be reported back to Union Senate as a whole. 

The working group has held its first meeting and begun discussions. More meetings will be scheduled for after the Easter Break. 

2. The All Student Vote should take place before Christmas and should include 3 questions; one on the staff cuts, one on the Vice-Chancellors pay and one on student experience. 

The vote took place and was quorate. It was a big success despite being held over Christmas when students aren't on campus. It also led to a lot of valuable feedback being brought to the Education Zone. 

3. Flora to contact Bath Union to ask about their campaign. 

They were contacted and replied to us just as their VC resigned. We are still in talks with them. 

4. Flora to contact Surrey Union's Chief Executive to ask how students were effected by the restructure they had. 

This has been moved to the next meeting of Union Senate for an update from Flora. 

5. The team should hold a second open forum to allow for more questions to be asked should the meeting overrun. 

Another open forum was not held as there were no additional questions. 


Fleur: The motion came out of talking to a lot of clubs and societies before and during the Spring Election. It seems that there is quite a bit of confusion as to why they are put in certain zones and so I wanted to bring attention to this here. However, I realise that it has been addressed already in the reports from the sabbatical team. 

Evie: This is something that we are looking at as part of the planned reviews. I would be wary of allowing clubs and societies to move between the zones year on year as it would be tempting to move to where there is potentially more grant money available. We will look into it as part of the zone restructure and sabbatical review.

Steve: We are aware that some of our Performing Arts Societies would like to move into the Sports zone as they aren't currently happy with the grants where they are. However, there isn't more money in Sports as it is already very over-subscibed, we are only able to give out £1 for every £5 that is asked for. Although it may be helpful for some PA societies to move to Sports Zone as we have criteria specific to competitions, it wouldn't be helpful for everyone to move. I think it is important that this is reviewed and that more care is taken initially with how clubs and societies are allocated to zones. We shouldn't give full autonomy to clubs and societies but they should be able to make a case to the Clubs and Societies Committee to be moved. At the moment, some societies are put into Sports because they feel active but it may not be appropriate for them to be in a zone where the rules focus on coaching and competitions. 

Evie: Additionally, we also have a similar issue in Creative Industries as it is often where societies without proper homes end up. 

Fleur: Would it therefore be appropriate to put more rules in place around which zone a society should be allocated to rather than moving clubs and societies around between the zones?

Evie: The rules around this definitely to need to be more stringent but first we need to work out whether this issue should be part of the wider Union Review which takes into account the rules and the zones generally, or part of the Clubs and Societies review which will focus on affiliations and grant allocations.

The Chair of Senate asked for this to be put to action. 

AOB No. 1:

Giles: Given that we recieved no report and that we have non-attendance of a sabbatical officer to one of our required Union Senate meetings, what do we feel is the most appropriate way forward for Union Senate. There are actions outstanding for the sabbatical that is not in attendance, this is question mainly for the Chair but also to the room. 

The Chair: The reason that this meeting of Senate was held in this way was that initially we had sent out multiple messages to confirm a date. However, I was asked by Flora to move the date of Union Senate so that it didn't clash with Spring Elections. There was two weeks notice given but it was for a different date this week and since bringing the Union Senate meeting back in all the sabbatical officers have been really good at providing reports.

By the rules, an appropriate action for Union Senate to take would be for Flora to go to a Disciplinary Hearing. 

Steve: I agree with this in principle, however I would stress that if there are any mitigating circumstances then it should be dismissed in the hearing. 

Giles: As the Disciplinary Chair, I will abstain from any voting. 

9 full voting members remained in the room. The vote was as follows:

Abstain: 1

Yes: 7

The Chair: We have a majority vote and so the Union President, Flora Noble will be taken to a Disciplinary. 

AOB No. 2:

Evie: In relation to the motion earlier, it is great to see things like this are being brought for discussion. However, there is a wider discussion needed around the process for bringing motions to Union Senate. Although the motion was well written, it would be good to have a clear format for these and a process for students to approach Union Senate and have items added to the agenda. We do need to find ways for students to engage with our democratic processes and it would be a shame to have a Union Senate agenda that was only the sabbatical reports and a few papers that were just to be noted. It is something that has come up a lot in the last year and so we need to ensure that we have interesting discussions that are brought by students. 

The Chair: It may be that this should be included in the Union Review. The rules around Union Senate are patchy and scattered within the other rules. It may help for Union Senate to have it's own rules that define things like this and make it clearer how it should be run. 

Arun: Would it be possible for the Chair of Senate to make rules in the interim that define how students get involved in Senate? These can be in affect while the rules are being reviewed generally. 

Giles: There is meant to be a trickle up system in place, there were slides on this process that show how the system works. It isn't meant to exclude students from the process but that items should first go to the zones and then be taken to Union Senate if necessary. 

The Chair asked for it to be actioned that the slides be added to the minutes for reference. 

Sam D: You Make Change is gaining a lot of momentum and is also being supported by the University who have promised to meet targets on their responses to submissions. However, You Make Change only sits with the sabbatical team, would it be of benefit to have the option to take specific ones to Union Senate rather than to the zones. 

Evie: It would be better to keep this as a report to Union Senate but that this should provide details rather than just numeric data. 

The Chair asked for it to be actioned that Senators attend a You Make Change before the Union Senate meeting takes place to have the chance to ask questions and see the process as it happens.

Giles: Rule 10 stipulates that the zones can pass decisions on to Senate. We should bring back the first 4 blocks of Rule 10 which also talks about the process for praise and recognision of members which sits under Senate.

The Chair asked for this to be actioned. 

AOB No.3:

The Chair: We have provisional dates for the next two Union Senate meetings. These are: Tuesday 17 April and Thursday 17 May. Should we hold both of these meetings, or just one. 

This was put to vote with 9 full voting members in the room, 8 voted to approve holding a Union Senate on both of these dates. 

Arun: Can the next one be at a site?

The Chair: The next one will be after the Making Change Summit on the Concourse but we can look at sites for the final one in May. 

Action Evie to investigate the allocation of clubs and societies to different zones and whether this should be included in one of the planned reviews of Union processes.
Decision The Union President, Flora Noble should be taken to a Disciplinary Hearing for non-attendance at a required Union Senate meeting.
Action Attached the slides referred to in the meeting that show the trickle-up process from zones to Union Senate.
Action Senators should be invited to the You Make Change meeting just before the next Union Senate meeting.
Action The first 4 sections of Rule 10: Praise and support for members and officers should be brought to Union Senate.
Decision To hold two more Union Senate meetings this year on the following dates: Tuesday 17 April and Thursday 17 May.
Action Action no. 4 of the previous Union Senate meeting to be taken to the next: Flora to contact Surrey Union's Chief Executive to ask how students were effected by the restructure they had.

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