How did the Bridge laptop ban happen?
We already have two excellent ideas requesting that the Bridge laptop ban fiasco be reversed. I'm going to try to avoid repeating the concerns mentioned therein, but I would like to follow up with a slightly different inquiry. Rather than asking for change, I'd like to ask "what happened?"
The change appears to have been snuck through without much publicity. If my understanding is correct, the current Full-Time Officer team was not directly involved in this, so I appreciate that some of these questions may be difficult to ask, but I would appreciate if we could collect this information.
In essence, my questions are as follows:
- Where did this decision originate? Was it the staff or student part of the Students' Union that originally proposed this?
- What was the reasoning behind the decision? I've seen a lot of speculation, but I was unable to find an evidence-backed answer so far.
- Have any steps been taken to assess the impact the ban may have on the student population? If so, what were these steps?
- How was the Union's memberbase consulted on this?
- One of my colleagues raised an interesting point: a laptop ban, at face value, appears to unfairly disadvantage certain fields of study (engineering/technology/arts). The previous policy of "if you're studying and not buying anything in busy times, you might be asked to leave" was more equitable and subject-agnostic in that regard. Have the potentially-discriminatory implications been assessed prior to rolling out this policy?
Apologies for the sheer volume of questions here, but, as always, I am of the view that the Union needs to work on its transparency, and I hope that your handling of this will move us one step closer to the goal. ????
Thanks for all your questions. To answer them in order:
- The basis of this decision came around when, in the spring term, the University told us that we would be receiving a cut in our block grant. As a result, we had to look at how we could make the Union more financially self-sustaining, and one of the ways that we are trying to do that is to increase the contributions that catering, in particular, makes to other areas of the Union. A paper came to Trustee Board that contained many ideas as to how we could do this and was approved (following a few revisions) at Finance and Staffing Sub Committee (a sub-committee of Trustee Board) on 27 June.
- To follow on from the previous answer, the reasoning was that we had had complaints from people unable to find a table to sit down and eat, which in turn led to less people spending money in the Bridge. As such, a laptop ban was proposed (and approved) as part of the paper that went through Trustee Board to try and encourage more people ordering food in the Bridge.
- In terms of impact, we considered the fact that multiple floors of the Library were revamped over the summer, and worked to provide informal spaces within the Union building (ie Bar 2 and the sectioned off part of the Cafe.) We're still looking to improve those spaces, so keep an eye out for that!
- We didn't go for widespread student consultation on this matter, I imagine because of the very tight timescales we were working with, however, the Full Time Officers and Student Trustees make up the majority of Trustee Board, so the issue was discussed by students in the context of Trustee Board.
- This wasn't an issue that we were aware of when making the decision, or that has has been raised other than in your questions. If your colleague would like to explain the issue in more detail to me by emailing at email@example.com I'd be more than happy to investigate it, and ensure that it's taken into account for any future decisions of this type.
I hope this adds some clarity for you!
Flora, Union President
Friday 13th Oct 2017 3:07pm