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Union Council (4th February 2014)

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Name of Committee Union Council
Date and time 4th February 2014, 18:00
Place Senate, Building 37
Present Members
(voting)
Vice President Education David Mendoza-Wolfson
President David Gilani
Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries David Martin
Vice President Welfare Beckie Thomas
Vice President Sport Development Evan Whyte
Union Councillor Jessica Lobo
Vice President Engagement Claire Gilbert
Physical Sciences & Engineering Faculty Officer Giles Howard
Union Councillor Katherine Spires
Union Councillor Grace Cameron
Union Councillor Alex Hovden
Union Councillor Louisa Smith
Union Films Cinema Manager Nick Tinsley
Health Sciences Faculty Officer Katy Elliott
Sports Participation Officer Adam Proudley
Union Councillor Sophie Van Eetvelt
Kane Hands
Clubs and Societies Officer Jamie Hemingway
Junior Common Room Officer David Gunns
Humanities Faculty Officer Lawrence Smith
Union Councillor William Yeong
Union Councillor William Cable
Union Councillor Rowanna Baker
National Oceanography Centre (Site) Officer Henry Pearson
Union Councillor Anjit Aulakh
Union Councillor Gabriela Discenza
SURGE Station Manager Jamie Barker
Alex Bees
Wessex Scene Editor Sam Everard
Vice President Student Communities Oli Coles
Ethical & Environmental Officer Charlotte Hollands
Postgraduate (Research) Officer Ioan Alexandru Barbu
Union Councillor Emily Shepherd
Union Councillor Vlad Novikov
Engineering & the Environment Faculty Officer Shruti Verma
Athletic Union Officer Lucy Dowdall
Union Councillor Jenny Bortoluzzi
Union Councillor Gethin Jones
Union Councillor Jamie Wilson
Union Councillor Thomas Feather
Union Councillor Olivia Ojuroye
Union Councillor Candace Jackson
SUSUtv Station Manager Catherine Darcy
Union Councillor Evrim Ozbey
Union Councillor Mayan Al-Shakarchy
Union Councillor Leon Rea
Union Councillor Helen Demlew
In Attendance
(non-voting officers and staff)
Head of Membership and Community Engagement Nickola Moore
Democracy Assistant Katie Ng
Democracy Coordinator Guy Drury
Absent with Apologies Union Councillor Joseph Spencer
Equality & Diversity Officer Thomas Gleeson
Wellbeing Officer Josh Cox
The Edge Editor Megan Downing
Student Enterprise Officer Jack Kanani
Performing Arts Officer Laura Ellis
Union Councillor Alexander Robinson
Union Councillor Roberto Gregoratti
Union Councillor Shailesh Agarwal
International Students' Officer Jawad Bhatti
Union Councillor Ben Franklin
Union Councillor Joshua McDonald
RAG Officer Alice Gray
Nightline Officer Laura Mason
Absent without Apologies Union Councillor Mark Lavery
Jack Brigden
Winchester (Site) Officer Amy Harwood
Southampton General Hospital (Site) officer Sohaib Rufai
Medicine Faculty Officer (MedSoc Vice President) Alexander Oldman
6pm Policy ideas
1. Ideas discussion session
  1. Student Leader Review - Josh Cox, Wellbeing Officer*
  2. Giving Feedback on SUSU's Commercial Outlets - Josh Cox*
  3. Possible capital projects for summer 2014 - David Gilani

*Due to the Wellbeing Officer being unable to make this meeting, this ideas session was removed from the agenda. These sessions were replaced by the following: 

  • Claire Gilbert, VP Engagement organised an activity for the council about National Voter Registration Day.
  • Marcus Burton briefly summised the work of the Policy Review Group and answered any questions about policies. 
7pm Formal business
2. Welcome and apologies

Katy O'Brien (Chair) welcomed everyone to the third Union Council of the academic year. Apologies were received as above.

3. Minutes of the last meeting

Council were presented with the minutes from the last meeting. Marcus Burton drew the council's attention to a misprint; on page 9, Chloe Green’s position to should be  ‘VP Welfare and Communities’. The minutes of the previous meeting held on 2nd December 2013 were approved by a clear show of voting cards.

4. Matters arising from the previous meeting

There were no matters arising since the previous meeting.

5. Membership matters

a) Election of Union Councillors

Nominations were closed for Open Union Councillors. The Chair explained that there would be two elections; one for men and one for women. There are 5 positions available for men and for women. The Chair asked the candidates to come to the front in order for them to introduce themselves and give a short speech.

The male candidates were:

  • Gethin Jones
  • Will Yeong
  • Tom Wardle
  • William Cable
  • James Wilson
  • William Hanna
  • Milosz Gaczkowski
  • Darren Richardson
  • Samrand Salih
  • Anjit Aulakh

The female candidates were:

  • Mayan Al Sharkachy
  • Emily ‘Shep’ Shepherd
  • Louisa Smith
  • Helen Demlew
  • Evrim Ozbey

There were five women nominated and five positions available, so all the female candidates were duly elected. The election for male councillors was conducted at a later point in the meeting.

b) Student representatives pool for Elections Working Group

Katy asked if anyone present was interested in sitting on the Spring Elections Working Group; interested members were encouraged to email democracy@susu.org . There are two places available; if more than two candidates nominate themselves, there will be a random draw to determine who is successful. David Martin gave a brief summary about what the Working Group do and encouraged people to apply for the positions. David Gunns asked how often the Working Group met; David Martin answered that currently, the group meet up once a week for an hour, however during the voting period they will meet every day.

6. Financial matters

There were no finanical matters to discuss.

7. Feedback from today’s ideas session

Following the meeting, the results from David Gilani’s Capital Investment project vote showed that the majority of Council members felt that Project 2-Additional Storage was a priority and deserved the most attention. In second place was Project 5 – New cinema seats, and in third place was Project 6 – Bar 3 Refurbishment.

8. Action from previous ideas sessions
  • Sexual Harassment: Claire Gilbert presented her paper. She has met with other staff to audit what SUSU currently provides regarding sexual harassment. They have looked into the support SUSU provides and what disciplinary procedures can be carried out. She announced that there was a session being held on Friday 7th February at 11am and invited any students that were interested in shaping the campaign to come along for discussion.
  • Disciplinary Procedure Reform: Henry Pearson informed Council that the Disciplinary Procedure had been taken to Democracy Zone, and has now returned to Union Council as a Policy proposal.
  • Post-graduates and students who live in private rented accommodation: Oli Coles informed the council that there would a Post-graduate event; he will be meeting the event’s manager in the next few days and dates will be arranged for it. He added that Alex Barbu PGT Officer is in the process of setting up a Post-graduate Association Society.
  • Availability of University facilities during exams: David Mendoza-Wolfson told the council that there had been progress; as it is open later than most facilities on campus, the Stags had been selling ‘Brain food’ and stationary during the exam period. This has stopped now but will be brought back in time for March. This will hopefully be ongoing until the end of Summer exam period.

Voting for the councillor positions opened.

 

9. Zone reports and updates

The Council were presented with the latest Zone reports. 

10. Officer reports & questions

The Council were presented with the Sabbatical Officer Reports

a)      Verbal Officer reports

Claire Gilbert (VP Engagement): As a member of the Spring Elections Working Group, she has spent a lot of time helping to shape the elections and used this opportunity to encourage and inspire council members to get involved- whether running in the elections or being on a campaign team. She talked about her time so far and how enjoyable it has been, and advised people to really consider nominating themselves.

David Martin (VP Democracy and Creative Industries): Promoted running in the elections or getting involved in other ways, for example being on the Spring Elections working group. The storage audit has started, in conjunction with David Gilani and the Master Plan. Most work has been done on organising the elections, nominations open this week. The Sabbatical drop ins have been taking place this week on the concourse, 12-3pm and so if anyone has any questions about the elections, please drop by for a chat. Meetings between Sabbatical officers and student leaders can also be arranged for anyone with questions regarding the positions and what they entail.

Evan Whyte (VP Sports Development): Progress has been slow over the last few months however the Sports Development team have been working very hard. Over the last week, work has been done on budgets. Preparation for Varsity is almost complete; we are just waiting on the promotional material for it. There has been progress on the ‘Barriers to participation’ project; Adam Proudley and Jake Bradley have conducted an accessibility review on some clubs; the focus is on Archery, Athletics and the Boat Club. On the performance front, the Sailing Club won 2nd place in regional qualifiers. We are doing well in BUCS so far as well, there has been improvement since last year. Hopefully, we will be returning with the Varsity Trophy.

Beckie Thomas (VP Welfare): This has been the first report she has presented as council. She reiterated what Claire and David Martin had said about elections and encouraged people to run. Vent about your Rent will be happening again this year on 1st March, once results have been collated and a report has been created, there will be an online form where students can voice their opinions about their landlords. A Housing Officer has been created; anyone interested in running for this position is welcome to do so at the next Student Life Zone Committee meeting. A Wellbeing Committee has been created; they sit under the Student Life Zone. There are seven officers on this committee; the officer roles are sexual health, mental health, substance misuse, financial health, healthy living and two general officers. The BEES launch is happening this week. Finally, Beckie informed council that there is a sustainability survey run by the University and she asked people to spread the word about this.

Oli Coles (VP Student Communities): Talked about news that was missed out of his report. The project he is working on, alongside David Gilani, is International guarantors. They are trying to get the University to agree to be housing guarantors for when international students sign for accommodation. He is also working on creating a platform where information for pre-sessional students about housing can be accessed; this will include practical advice about delaying signing contracts until they pass as well as legal advice about contracts. We have been designing a media brief for sites (Winchester and NOC) exploring ways that SUSU can be marketed. Finally, Oli will post the improving participation survey to the Union Council Facebook page; he asked people to fill out the survey and pass it on to others.

David Mendoza-Wolfson (VP Education): He has been working on improving our representation system; a new charter is needed to explain fully what a Faculty Officer and Academic President is, what they do and what people can expect in the role. In the past few weeks, the first Faculty Officer and Academic President forum was held which will help to inform this piece of work. The library have put in a bid to the Education Enhancement Fund for £100,000 over the next three years. If they are successful, they will hopefully start opening 24 hours during exam periods (which may possibly extend into other semester times too). He has had agreement from all Associate deans of education in every faculty that where it is easier for students to submit work online, then the university will expect only an online submission; he is working on creating a policy for this as well. The Education Zone has chosen Student Engagement to be the theme of a report carried out by the Quality Assurance Agency. As part of this report, there is also a student written submission which David will be leading on; we will also be employing a researcher to assist in this. In the next few weeks there will also be focus groups that will hopefully be informing this report. Finally, Education Zone are running their first Appathon this week; students can still sign up for it until Thursday 6th February. He also reminded everyone that anyone is welcome to attend Education Zone, not just those who have been elected to sit on it.    

David Gilani (Union President): He has been working on January budget reviews recently. We have passed the International fees policy which means that International students will now know how much their course fees will be when they start; there will be no increase each year. Reminded people about the Sabbatical drops in and encouraged people to come and talk to the Sabbatical Officers who will be on the concourse this week. Finally, he is working on getting microwaves in SUSU building for students to use. David informed council that the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences have had their microwaves taken away from them, so they are donating them to SUSU.

b) Questions

Q1. Beckie Thomas: The Petting Zoo was only available during the second week and, as we wanted all activities to be within the same week, we had to work around their availability. The idea was that students who had completed exams could come to the events as a treat, and those who were still taking exams could get a short break from studies. The majority of events were free. The events that were not were run by SUSU affiliated groups and we subsidise them (free use of Cube); there were plenty of free and accessible events for everyone. The exercise classes were booked as they are good stress-reduction activities.

Q2. Beckie Thomas: Firstly, The Advice Centre is aware of the difficulties faced by students in these situations, and we support everyone with accessing help. However, they can only help those who come to them. There is a Mental Health Officer in place now as of this week; it will be an issue for them to flag up and take forward. Beckie will work closely with this officer on this issue. Secondly, we are aware of MIND focus groups that are being run. The findings of these groups will be confidential and so cannot be disclosed to SUSU. However, SUSU hope to build a close relationship with MIND so that they can work together on similar projects.

Evan Whyte: The Hockey (mens) team struggled to fill out the online application and so they sent Evan Whyte a hardcopy of their application with a detailed breakdown of costs. When Evan filled out the online form on their behalf, the breakdown was not included and he apologised as this was an admin error on his part. The actual application was strong and the committee were happy to approve it.

Lucy Dowdall then answered: The Vixen’s application had requests for 4/5 competitions and again, the committee were happy to approve this. Badminton (colours) requested funding for coaching, which the committee believed came under Development pot. Similarly, Football (Men’s) and Rugby (Men’s) asked for funding for coaching, again under the Development pot. As Rugby (Men’s) is on our Focus Sport programme, the committee were happy to push this group forward to more success. Football (Men’s) has hired a highly qualified coach, and as one of the biggest groups at SUSU, the committee were happy to approve funding for them as it will add to their success already.

Evan concluded by asking what Sports Clubs should include in their applications for funding? The Sports Development Zone has a huge number of applications each round already, therefore splitting requests into individual items and resources will only exacerbate the situation. The Sports Development Zone committee work on the premise that if the application is clearly broken down within the form then the committee can approve requests where they see fit. Regarding Badminton, they have a high turnover of shuttlecocks and as it’s a key component of their sport, the committee approved this request. All funding is allocated in line with the zone strategy.

There are no specific rules or guidelines regarding behaviour in common spaces at Halls as we hope that students are sensible and use these spaces for the purpose they were built for; unfortunately this was not the case this time. Oli will work with the JCR committees and Halls managers to create guidelines for behaviour in common spaces. There are also plans to update some areas of halls in the future.

c. Attendance

Medicine Faculty Officer – Alexander Oldman

David Mendoza-Wolfson: Alexander Oldman has not responded to any communication and has not sent apologies. It is likely that in the next Union Council there will be a motion to remove him from position.

Winchester (Site) Officer – Amy Harwood

Oli Coles: He has been talking to her about her attendance, and he was expecting her to attend today’s meeting however she has failed to attend.

11. Membership matters (continued)

a) Results of Union Councillor Election

The following were elected:

  • Anjit Aulakh
  • Gethin Jones
  • Jamie Wilson
  • William Cable
  • William Yeong

As the new Union Councillors were now voting members of Council, Katy informed the Council that they would now be addressing Items in the agenda that required voting; after this, Questions to Officers will be concluded.

b) Student representatives on Zone Committees

The following committees had one position available:

Democracy Zone– Mayan Al Shakarchy

Student Communities Zone – Helen Demlew

Creative Industries Zone – Rowanna Baker

Education Zone – Evrim Ozbey

External Engagement Zone – Gethin Jones

Sports Development Zone – Jamie Barker

It was noted that the Student Life Zone did not have any available positions.

12. Policy proposals

a) 1214P4 Disciplinary procedure reform

David Martin presented this proposal on behalf of the Democracy Zone Committee. After extensive consultation, it was found that the current disciplinary procedure is out dated and needs improvement. The re-write includes formalised provision for staff to place members under interim bans immediately where they suspect misconduct has occurred, as well as provision for staff to impose temporary suspensions. There is also an improved procedure in place in the new rule that details what happens with initial complaints. The role of the Chair of the Disciplinary Committee has been clarified. The aim of this reform was to ensure that every eventuality is covered and to provide a consistent procedure that is applicable to all.

There were no further speeches.

The policy passed by a clear show of voting cards.

 

b) 1214P5 Union Policy Review

Marcus Burton presented this proposal on behalf of the Policy Review Group. There are 141 policies; the proposal requests that we lapse 82, retain 32, re-write nine and consolidate 13 into four. This motion will clear up any ambiguity that exists in current policy; this will make SUSU’s policies more manageable, relevant and accessible.

  • Marcus made a verbal amendment to Policy 0506P2 – Responsible drinking. The action should be to Student Life Zone and not External Engagement Zone

Oli Coles moved Procedural motion E. Council moved to a vote; the procedural motion did not pass.

  • Claire Gilbert made a verbal amendment to Policy 0607P1 - Union and Community Strategy. The Union and Community Strategy has been replaced by the External Engagement Strategy. This policy should therefore be lapsed. Marcus accepted this amendment.

The Chair asked for speeches against, and there were none.

David Martin, speaking for the policy, explained that this policy proposal has been the results of many months of work. The policy review will set SUSU up for the future and ensure that Zones start to take ownership of polices and are kept aware of what is going on regarding new and current polices.

There were no further speeches for or against, and there was a summation from Marcus.

Marcus thanked council for listening and asked members to vote to approve this proposal.

The policy passed by a clear show of voting cards.

13. Questions from the floor

Questions from the Floor

Jade Head: In your report you mention how you’re not carrying forward anything about external speakers. Can you go into more detail as to why? David Gilani said that this issue had been discussed at the first Union Council of term and that he had taken information from discussion during this meeting. However, he explained that he does not see this issue as a priority and informed council that he does not plan on bringing this issue back to Union Council.

Emily Shepherd: At the moment there is the transition to the new minutes site, this has resulted in many minutes not being available. When will minutes be available? Is there a timescale? David Martin: Hopefully within the next month. There have been issues with getting staff permissions sorted, but this has been done now. We are now in the process of uploading minutes to the new website. Marcus Burton asked if this included old minutes from committees for example the Union Management Board. David Martin answered yes; hopefully there will be an archive of old minutes from previous years.

Alex Hovden: Regarding the Stateside Ball advertising, the content of it was questionable and lead to confusion, can you guarantee that this will not happen again? David Gilani it was needless confusion and we did not need to be risqué; this will be looked into for future events.

Chris McGeehan: have you advertised to Hockey (Mens) and Vixens that they have to put in separate applications? Evan Whyte: No. He explained that it would be unhelpful to ask groups to split their application down into individual items; as student groups are run by volunteers, asking them to do this would add to their workload. Chris McGeehan said that is inconsistent with other zones. Evan Whyte explained that the Sports Development Zone is different as the names of the categories that funding comes under could be misinterpreted which would make applying for individual items more difficult. He does not want to reject an application just because the name of category the request is under is incorrect; this would be unfair to the group.

Gabriela Discenza: I have heard that has been a review of the University’s policy towards disabilities and mental health. Special considerations have been a problem at the University for a while now. Is SUSU doing anything in that area to feedback what students actually want regarding special considerations? Beckie Thomas: she explained that she has not heard about anything that is happening but she can bring this up with SUSU staff and work out what could be done. David Mendoza-Wolfson: Hopefully in the future, every faculty will have a senior tutor who will have a specific pastoral role who students, who require special considerations, will be able to go to for advice.

Louisa Smith explained that this is already the structure in place at ECS but this was not advertised to students. Problems arose when the senior tutor resigned; there was no one to follow on after them. She asked if this was something SUSU could cover in new guidelines regarding senior tutors? David Mendoza-Wolfson: The senior tutor role is essentially a full time position; currently each faculty has different approaches to this role. Ideally, and hopefully in the future, there will be a faculty-wide tutor system that will come with specific guidelines that will cover all eventualities. POI – Darren Richardson: Julian Field is now the Senior Tutor to go to with queries.

OTHER BUSINESS
14. Union Council Stars

The Union Council Star was awarded to Shruti Verma for her work on the library usage survey. She is excellent at engaging everyone in her faculty and getting their voices heard, as well as attending meetings.

15. Industrial action by lecturers: approval

David Gilani proposed this policy. He explained that it is important for SUSU to have a stance on this issue. He informed council that there would be three two-hour long strikes happening over the next few weeks. He said that he is not speaking for or against this motion, he is just presenting it to council.

Shruti Verma asked if this was still policy as council had already voted to consolidate the policy. Marcus Burton replied that yes it is. We voted to consolidate them; in the meantime we are retaining them until we bring the new consolidated policy to Council.

David Gunns asked how many more times we would say that these strikes will not have an ‘adverse effect on the student experience’ before they do? David Mendoza-Wolfson explained that he has been actioned to write a new policy regarding Industrial Action; the wording of which will be looked into.

Grace Cameron asked when the strikes would be taking place? This information was not available at the time.

  • Procedural Motion E (Adam Proudley). To move to an informal discussion. Passed by clear show of cards.

Informal Discussion

Darren Richardson informed council that the strikes were 9-11am on 10th February; the strike on 6th February would occur all day. Sam Everard asked what effect SUSU’s decision has on the strikes? David Gilani answered that, depending on how passionate we are about these issues, a lot can be done. Promotional material can be given out; if the student body want it, as Union President, he can speak directly to the Vice Chancellor and inform him of the students’ opinion. Darren Richardson explained that from personal experience, the best lecturers from his undergraduate years were the ones most upset by SUSU not voting alongside the lecturers during the last strikes. Furthermore, they supported students when tuition fees were increased and they now feel ‘betrayed’ by the lack of support. There is a risk of widening the gap between students and lecturers which will only increase the chances of lecturers voting for more severe action in the future. Alex Hovden explained that during the strikes, some of the staff have been quite negative towards students. Darren Richardson replied that yes, some have been negative but not all. Like in many strikes, there is a ‘spectrum’ of striking which will result in very negative, as well as moderate behaviour. This is an issue that should be addressed. Milosz Gaczkowski said that he was for the strikes and was disappointed that SUSU did not support the last set of strikes. He asked David Gilani whether it was possible to organise more student-central events to engage more students; for example, a debate in the Bridge that would discuss the Industrial Action. Alex Bees asked if it could be made clear to the strikers that, if SUSU vote against the strikes, they cannot use the Redbrick area to avoid clashes between student groups and protesters. David Gilani explained that, as SUSU regulate the use of the Redrick area, they could look into banning them from using it if SUSU do not support the strikes. Candace Jackson asked how much progress has been made on the new policy on Industrial Action. She said that she thinks many students would support it if the policy protected study zones from disruption during strikes. David Mendoza-Wolfson said that a new policy could be brought to the next Council. Gabriela Discenza the current policy does not take into account the long term cuts to Higher Education. Whilst the strikes are having a detrimental impact on students, in terms of the long term prospects of students, we’re not making clear whether we support the aims of the strikers. David Gilani explained that the original policy stated that overall, SUSU would generally support Industrial Action but it gives SUSU a clause in the short term to say that in certain instances, it would be too detrimental to students. Therefore in the short term, SUSU can vote against supporting certain strikes. David Mendoza-Wolfson took this opportunity to reiterate his stance on this issue and explained that, in his opinion, the protesters during the last strike behaved badly towards students and also some sabbatical officers. This showed general disregard for the student population. He believed that the reason behind the short strikes is because they cannot gain enough support for a longer strike. Chris McGeehan explained that it was important to support the strikes. SUSU should work with the protesters during the strikes, for example, staff can ask them to not be aggressive towards their students and also to not use areas where student events are taking place. He explained that it would appear hypocritical for students who may be entering into low wage jobs in Higher Education, to not support the lecturers during strikes.

  • Procedural Motion D (Grace Cameron). To put to the vote immediately. Passed by clear show of cards.

On an electronic vote, the motion was approved (Yes: 21, No: 17, with six abstentions)

Jamie Hemingway asked if we can look into protecting students/student groups during the strikes. The Chair asked Jamie to speak to David Gilani in private. Catherine Darcy asked David Mendoza-Wolfson for a report on the Industrial action, including what SUSU had done to show their support. Lucy Dowdall asked if there was any way SUSU can accommodate lecturers who are not in support of this. The Chair directed Lucy to speak to David Gilani about this.

16. Any other business

 There was no other business to discuss.

17. Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting is currently scheduled to be held on Thursday 20th March 2014, at 6pm in the Senate Room, Building 37.

Update: This was moved to Thursday 27th March, at 6pm in the Senate Room, Building 37.

The meeting closed at 8.50pm.

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