Union Senate (16th May 2024)


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Name of Committee Union Senate
Date and time 16th May 2024, 13:30
Place SUSU Boardroom
Present Members
Chair of Senate Yasmine Gendy
Senator Ash
Senator James Baines
Senator Wilson Wijaya
Union President Ed Brooker
Vice President Activities Amy Moir
Vice President Education and Democracy Rebecca Would
Vice President Sports Marina Stasi
Senator Marine
Absent with Apologies Senator Terence Wong
Senator Joshie Christian
Senator Klevis Filaj
Senator Fionn Allen
Senator Lamar Dixon
Senator Dee
Senator Jake Aurora
Senator Andrew Littlejohn
1. Welcome and Introductions
2. Minutes of Previous Meeting

Previous Meeting Minutes

Minutes approved. The Union President confirmed that he had spoken to the university staff member behind nightlife promotion post, who had agreed to follow up on concerns raised. VP Activities confirmed that SUSU is looking to work with nightclubs on an event-by-event basis, rather than endorsing them overall.

3. Conflicts of Interest

None raised.

Papers & Reports
4. Sabbatical Reports

VP Activities report

- Accreditation: now being referred to as Badges scheme, being launched in September (outside of current VP Activities’ term) final versions being shared with Senators.

- Society Digital Platform: Now being called Share Assets and Seek Skills (SASS) – link to preview being shared with senators, promotional video being filmed. Should be available to societies from June, promoted in Freshers.

- Period Products: Project fund application submitted, will know whether this has been approved in next couple of weeks.

- Expect Respect Guidelines: Timeline is difficult to pin down. Other staff members writing code of conduct. Videos on report & support will be delivered as part of society training.

- Worked with International Officer to put on networking event for european & other international students.

- Question re. groups hub standardization – what is the status of this? Being brought into Badges scheme under accessibility. Baseline rather than badge-worthy.

- Question re. Groups Hub – can functionality be improved? Digital team are fixing issues case by case but systemic issues remain.

- Question re. period products – what are next steps if project funding is not approved? This will involve sabbs so next year’s sabbs will take it forwards.


VP Ed Dem report

- Assessments: Attending regular meetings with Strategic Major Project looking at Assessments, maintaining feedback throughout the academic year rather than on an ad-hoc basis.

- Question re. Sites Officer roles - these are no longer being elected, as they were consistently not being filled due to lack of candidates.

- Question re. changes to staff attendance at SSLCs - feedback was that too many staff were attending some SSLCs and this was stifling student feedback. Reducing staff attendance at SSLCs to only those who really need to be there, plus extras agreed by staff & student co-chairs (module leads should not be invited by default).

- Question re. staff non-attendance at SSLCs - who do reps talk to if relevant staff members are not present? Need to speak to co-chairs and escalate it that way. Guidance is being drafted for staff, emphasizing the importance of attending SSLCs. If invited staff members are frequently not attending, speak to VP Ed Dem or Representation team.

- Question re. senior student reps non-attendance at SSLCs - VP Ed Dem is looking to improve guidance and engagement; speak to them or Representation team if this is a persistent issue.

- Question re. Alumni in Industry Boards - these have worked well in Engineering, is this something that could be rolled out further? Yes, will take these into account when looking at support/networking with alumni.

- Question re. representation in Business School – how does this work? Some really great reps in the school, difficulties come from tendency to split everything into pathways, each with own representation, however there is significant crossover between these.

- Question re. recent all student votes – these did not reach quoracy so SUSU are not able to see what the breakdown of votes was. However, we can continue to work on these issues.


VP Sports report

- Have secured a five-month pay plan for Sports Pass in addition to keeping rate at £45

- Hoping that increased communication with Soton Sport will reduce likelihood of future sports pass-shaped issues

- Question re. disability in grant round founding – this is prioritized more in grant round 1 (as there is more funding available). Grant round 2 only just covered entries and travel for BUCS. Can encourage and support clubs to do fundraising to cover requests that don’t receive grant round funding.

- Question re. Society Accreditation - will this also cover clubs? Yes, as well as with Share Assets and Seek Skills.


Union President Report

- Rent guarantor scheme: This has been a significant amount of work, happy to share draft as requested.

- Southampton Global Online Programme (SGOP) supplier - update on this should be available by end of June

- New SUSU strategy - this should also be available by end of June

- Wide Lane Bar - this will be coming back in Autumn; working on a handover for incoming Union President & VP Sports on this

- Russel Group Students' Unions (RUGSU) – this was recently hosted at Southampton and created great opportunities for networking and sharing best practise

5. Election Dates

Senate was not quorate so a subsequent online vote was carried out to approve these. (11 votes in favour, 1 abstention).

6. Plant-Based Universities Petition
  • Proposal was presented as attached.

  • Question re. universities who have signed up – how has this worked in practice? Sterling University were first to sign up in November 2022, aiming for 100% plant based by 2025. Steps can include oat milk as the default milk, meatless Mondays, no beef etc. Starting with hot food, then moving on. Lancaster Students Union voted recently to lobby university to transition.
  • SUSU Shop - difficult to transition due to reliance on external suppliers for meal deals etc. Might be easier to focus on going veggie first? Could start with fresh pastries as we already do these in-house?
  • Question re. cost impact – would be good to know what this has been at other universities? Time pressure is significant due to climate crisis, not sure we can wait for other universities to fully transition and then produce a case study. Can make use of connections via PBU campaign to see how this is going at other universities, what plant-based options are available.
  • Question re. legitimacy of a senate decision on this - student body might not be happy with a decision being made behind closed doors. Would it be better to go to an All Student vote? Difficult to reach necessary turnout as shown by recent All Student Vote on divestment. Did have to speak to lots of students to get to the point of having the discussion at senate.

  • Union President: Proposal 1 is doable, 2&3 are possibly overly ambitious – 60% plant based by end of next academic year is unlikely to happen. Shouldn’t take petition signatories as a microcosm of whole student population. If an all-student vote took place in Autumn term rather than in lead-up to summer exams, it would be much more likely to reach quoracy.
    • Response from PBU: Wouldn’t be going from 0-60% as some menus are already plant-based, but initial target could be reduced to 50%. Most students petition team spoke to were in favour.
  • Need to focus on education prior to making the change – important to bring students with us if this is a direction we want to go in.
  • Question re. soya intolerance – has this been taken into consideration? PBU team has worked with nutritionists & dieticians to produce plant-based menus. Fully plant-based menus would have more choice and reduce reliance on soy as a meat replacement (though this is often the cheapest one).
  • Other questions:
    • Have we taken demand into account, i.e. will we see students changing their habits or will they simply go elsewhere?
    • How much of uni/SUSU catering is currently plant based? Could we commit to a 10% increase year-on-year without the initial jump to 60%?
    • Would 25-26 academic year be a more reasonable target instead of 24-25? Would give time for baseline data and assessing how much can reasonably be committed to.

  • Senate is not quorate so not possible to approve/reject proposals within the meeting. Separate meeting to be held after assessment period - hybrid so as many senators as possible can attend. This will give more time for gathering relevant facts and figures from PBU at other universities; a more detailed business case; and to amend proposals as previously discussed. Would lay groundwork for an all-student vote in Autumn – senators can call for this without needing to run another petition.
7. AOB

None registered.

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