In EM’s flat. We start with a discussion of how much we all hate the vice-chancellor. It’s a challenge to get CG to stop talking about it so we can start the meeting.
Present: JC (Vice-President), RJ (FCO), SW (Chair), EE (International Rep), ES (Senior Welfare Officer), CG (Communications Officer), EM (President), SM (Postgraduate and Mature Students’ Committee Chair), MW (Social Chair), SA (Outreach Chair), AJ (Librarian)
Apologies: AC (Sports and Societies Chair), JR (Facilities Manager)
Minutes of Previous Meeting
EM has sort of investigated sheds but got side-lined.
EM hasn’t done infographics on Instagram
Google doc for awards has been made by SM
Survey updates – EM
RJ: Gyms were a big point. So me and JR are putting together a proposal for investing in them.
EM: What about his motivational posters?
RJ: You’ll have to ask him.
AJ: I might do a post about how to find and enter the library. Also what the seating arrangements are.
EM: I think it might be useful to do some Instagram highlights of getting to places, also like the conference room.
SA: When we did open day rep interviews, the librarian sent a fresher to the conference room who then just went home. So they probably need some info too.
RJ: We should put some signs up.
EE: Maybe we should do a video tour.
EM: Before I came, I remember videos put on the Facebook pages for things like walking between buildings. We’ll make a video for next year, but for now settle for some highlights on Instagram.
AJ: The lighting is awful.
RJ: I’ll add that to my email to college.
EM: None of the lighting is regulation.
AJ: Chairs in the computer room are broken.
EM: We also need to report broken computers.
Action: SN (assistant librarian) to test all the computers and send a report to EM.
AJ: We should replace them with some good ones.
Action: EM to investigate.
SA: The lighting in the Refounder’s computer room is also awful.
JC: There was nothing directly relevant to my role, but it’s definitely important for me to facilitate everyone else’s changes by supporting them. I also think general public conduct is an important thing to think about and work on.
CG: Someone said we should stop supporting strikes but I don’t think we should.
EM: You should try to ensure the newsletter has groups we’re not part of in it to break down the appearance of cliqueness. You could also join sports groups so you can put photos on Instagram.
SM: The most important thing for PGs is engagement. There’s a lot I’ve never met. It might be good to talk to my successor about fresher’s week, and in particular reaching international students. This year having a Chinese speaking frep was very useful, so maybe we should include some information in other languages.
ES: There were some comments about minority issues, and we’re running a big campaign for that. I also need to make it clear in the handover what the scope of campaigns is.
MW: I think events are good at breaking down cliqueness. It’s important to keep them well advertised.
EE: Mine was similar to SM’s. It’s important to reach out, but there are certain groups of international students who are always isolated. I think the exec restructure will help. For JCR meetings, I think some people get lost during amendments. It might be nice to ask the proposer if they support the amendment or not, and then include it without a vote if they do. It will reduce time spent on things that people all support.
SW: I agree that you can lose people when you discuss amendments. But this way, it’s up to the proposer as to whether that’s included. But in a JCR meeting, it’s sort of important for everyone to vote. If everyone agrees there’s normally minimal discussion anyway.
SM: Could we still ask them anyway so people know what they think?
SW: I’ll try to do that. Sometimes it can get lost so I’ll try and direct discussion more.
EM: Maybe tell people what they’re responding to. Sometimes there are controversial amendments, and we don’t want things to be stopped because of small issues.
EE: If there is an amendment that people don’t want but proposers do, it can still be discussed as a reverse amendment.
EM: I feel like that will make things more complicated.
SM: People always get confused in the first JCR meeting of term. Maybe we should start with a jargon debrief.
CG: You could stage a video with an example of what happens in a meeting. You could also add commentary on what that means for people. The examples of how a motion works.
EM: Do you think people would watch this? Often posters and infographics are much more effective.
SW: Voiceovers are also really complicated. I’d prefer an animation. Most people absorb text quickly.
EE: Should we have an introductory JCR meeting then?
EM: We used to but no longer because people got bored of fake motions.
AJ: Maybe just a focus on simplicity in the first meeting.
SW: I think it’s actually harder in the later meetings. I try to make it obvious what we’re voting on, but I also don’t want to patronise people. I think the flowcharts worked well.
RJ: Maybe we should do another poster for some other things such as elections.
CG: You should post that online too.
EM: Nice posters can go straight in lots of places.
EM: I’d also like a sheet detailing positions, what they are and when the election will be. That way everyone can know a long time in advance when they need to think about things.
SW: I do have a positions by meeting document, but it can be approved.
SM: Dates could be added termly.
SW: My feedback was some of the most depressing, but I think some of that is a reflection on other issues. It’s showed me that walking the line is difficult. Some people are put off running by the husts, but if we get rid of those then everything becomes cliquey. So I’m creating a hust bank. I’d like some for Method II as well as Method I. It’s an attempt to break down anxieties around husting. There are only so many links I can put on one post.
EM: Have a section on the website that includes all the information you need to and these links.
SW: Me and SP need to chat about elections. There wasn’t anything specific to writing motions brought up. We’ve already discussed a lot about JCR meetings. I think that just because some things can be boring doesn’t mean they’re not necessary. Having been to a Hatfield JCR meeting, I now know things could be a lot worse. I don’t want to stifle debate.
RJ: A lot of people don’t know where they’re levies go, so I could make a pie chart. But it’s complicated because there’s money from the composition fee as well and they’re not kept distinct.
MW: We did that for events once and everyone was outraged.
EM: I would worry about doing that unless asked, because people who don’t understand our jobs will be annoyed.
RJ: I think it might be better to explain how we subsidise things like committees, events and sports and societies.
SW: That would be good, someone didn’t understand why they pay subs and a levy.
EE: I like the idea of people being able to ask for the full information.
RJ: The annual budget is passed every year.
EM: A lot of this could be explained in an Instagram takeover.
Action: Everyone to email EM with a good choice of day for a day in the life.
EM: I’m going to include a section in the weekly email about what I’ve been discussing at pres comm. But currently people can’t reply to the email.
Feast responsibilities – EM
MW: Please refer to the facebook post. You all need to help. Then also please be there on the evening. But let me know if you can’t.
Post Offer Visit Days (Wed) – EM
EM: I still need more people from 9-1. Please ask your committees. They need to be in stash and turn up. If they know what they’re doing they can join later. We need people to go on #tour.
Post Offer Visit Residential – Protest – EM
EM: I want to do a protest. I don’t want something ugly or in too in your face. My concern is that the University’s expansion is damaging and unreasonable, and BPR2 will very bad. It’s relevant to the open days because the new students won’t have access to services that we have. For example there won’t be a specific weekend porter. The rooms will only be cleaned once per term.
CG: We could encourage open day reps to have ripped off on their stash. We could also give out flyers to freshers.
EM: I like the ripped off things, but I’m most worried about things we have more of a chance of changing.
AJ: I’m worried about scaring people.
SW: Haven’t Castle done this before?
Action: EM to find out what Castle did.
EM: The idea is to make it clear that there are things happening that we’re not happy with. We should maybe pick one topic and say that we’re not happy with it.
ES: Maybe we could put “saving our staff” on the backs of people’s shirts.
SA: I think some of the reps won’t know anything so we need to be careful who does it.
EE: Are we allowed to do this legally?
SW: This has been discussed, and there is a specific part of the constitution that says we need to support the views of Cuth’s students. I don’t think the trustees will care.
Action: CG to post on the exec group chat asking for possible t-shirt backs. Everyone will comment suggestions.
EE: Maybe we should put it through a motion so it is the views of students.
SW: It happened last year. We could do it again. Make sure it’s based on facts.
Action: CG to write this motion.
RJ: We should also tell the University what we’re going to do.
International Freps – EE
EE: I think there needs to be a change to how international comm operates. I would like an international frep team who then become international comm. Usually international comm is filled with freshers who aren’t used to living here. Having people who are more experienced would be useful.
EM: Would freshers still be able to join?
EE: Yes. There could be different positions.
EM: If you had a committee that you wanted to frep, would they only frep during international fresher’s week? Would they go through the normal application?
EE: They’d need to apply to do the whole week, or could do just international week if they don’t get it.
SM: With PG freps, it’s meant to be PGM chair, PGM VP and PGM treasurer that are guaranteed, then the rest are just freps. Maybe you should have 3 or 4 positions in advance, but not fill it up too early.
EE: International comm as a whole is currently 10 members in the orders. I want it to be more of a committee that’s already set then people can join later. I don’t want people to have to write an application and come to an interview.
CG: What would their role be in freshers’ week that’s different to a regular frep?
EE: They’d know more about visas, laws and arriving in a new country. It can be difficult to know if people are allowed to work in the UK.
EM: I think we all agree that something needs to change, and I think you, me and SW need to meet to work out the details and what’s realistic.
Funding of Common Rooms & SU – RJ
RJ: This is more an information thing. The SU get a lot of money from the University and common rooms don’t. We took this to pres comm and are hoping to take it to the University Council. I want to stress the importance of common rooms to the wider student experience. It’s a long term thing that won’t happen overnight. But I think stressing the importance of common rooms will help us get more money. The University gives 4 times as much to the SU as to all the common rooms combined. The money we raise from students is significantly less than what the University gives us. The SU spends £880k a year on staff, 11 of whom are employed for campaigns. I have no idea what they do. Compare that to a member of staff that’s a sabbatical in a common room. Common rooms provide far more student groups than the SU and Experience Durham. There are approximately 5000 leadership positions in common rooms, and less than 1500 in the SU and Experience Durham. So wider student experience is dominated by common rooms. If our composition fee was doubled we could make sports and societies free. Common room sports are much more accessible than Team Durham Sports. The SU is unlikely to support this.
CG: If this was successful would there be redundancies for SU staff?
EM: This is two different things. One of them is us asking for more money. But we’ve also identified where it could come from. There’s a member of staff employed to support common rooms because the University thinks that’s useful, but it would have been better to just give the money to common rooms.
ES: Is it worth trying to ask for the SU to be more transparent about what these people do?
AJ: All other colleges employ librarians and we don’t.
EE: What would you like to get?
RJ: £200k split between all colleges. All colleges have written what they’d do with that. The SU and University have a 4-year agreement, so no one will lose their job overnight. I don’t think they’ll decrease SU funding but I hope they recognise what we do.
SM: I think it’s sad that the SU aren’t supporting this because relations between them and common rooms is awful.
CG: Can we encourage people to ask for their strike money back?
Gym equipment order – RJ
RJ: We’re going to spend up to £15,000. We have the money, it just needs to be done.
JC: Last time we discussed renaming either communications or communities officer. What are the suggestions?
RJ: Students Union and Livers’ out rep instead of communications.
CG: What about publicity and relations?
SM: Most communications officers don’t do the same job as we do.
CG: I do housing, SU stuff and the newsletter.
EM: I like publicity and something but not relations.
*Decision that communications officer will be renamed to publicity and relations*
SW: Please remember conduct during elections. Last time was very good.