We kick off with some weird disco yoga that no-one enjoys.
Present: EM (President), JC (Vice-President), MT (SU Rep), LH (SU Rep), JS (Working Class Students’ Rep), MR (Ethnic Minorities Rep), SM (Postgraduate and Mature Students’ SU Rep), EJ (SU Rep), RM (LGBT+ Rep), ES (Students with Disabilities Rep), CG (Communications Officer)
Pledge of Allegiance to Greta Thunberg
CG: Put your hand over your heart and say the pledge. I pledge allegiance to the Greta Thunberg of Sweden, and to Cuth’s SU Comm for which they are the mascot of, one Climate crisis under Greta, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
*A halfhearted attempt by some people to repeat it follows. Everyone is very weirded out.*
CG: I went to an SU rep comm meeting and we discussed whether or not students like the new system. Some colleges don’t have it yet. I’d like to a survey.
EM: We’ve already done that.
CG: I’ll send it to SU comm.
SM: This comes up a lot at Presidents’ Forum.
EM: Collingwood feeds a lot more people than us and that leads to them running out of food.
CG: The SU rep of Collingwood has a good plan.
EM: Collingwood president has been on it all year. I don’t think the SU is really the right place to take this.
CG: It is their business because it’s the University commercialising education and I’d like to see the SU do something.
SM: I’ve been in many meetings where this is brought up.
EM: Presidents’ forum is compiling a report on this. So feel free to send me any specific comments.
RM: The SU would far more able to make the case for changing food in University buildings that aren’t college owned.
SM: Maybe we should also lobby for the SU to join the flexible catering agreement.
Decolonising the Curriculum
RM: I think it’s good.
MT: It’s quite a hard thing to do. Archaeology has a SSCC but progress is slow in restructuring modules. It’s a long-winded process. We’re probably too late for significant module changes for next year. The library campaign at the moment is great.
RM: SJA (SU Academic Officer) sees it as a very long term goal.
CG: 80% of survey respondents said I should vote yes, one said no.
*CG will vote yes for this*
Signing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Accord
RM: What would Greta do?
CG: She would vote for this motion. So would most people that responded to my survey.
LH: How many other unis have signed this?
CG: I don’t know. I don’t think it’s bad, I just don’t think it will get much done. But I think we should vote for it.
Divest from Barclays
CG: I thought this was going to be controversial. 8 people said to vote for it, one said not to and one said to abstain. The University said it would be carbon neutral but they put money into Barclays which invests in fossil fuel companies.
EM: All the DSOs need to have bank accounts at Barclays.
CG: Institutional boycotts can be quite successful.
EM: Which banks are ethical?
RM: Barclays are particularly bad.
LH: I bank with Barclays.
Action: LH to divest from Barclays.
*CG should vote for this*
SM: You should ask them to provide an alternative suggestion.
EM: What if Barclays rates are particularly good?
Action: CG to research where other unis do their banking.
LH: All major banks are dodgy with fossil fuels.
EJ: There’s a national divest Barclays movement.
Creating an Open Forum Assembly format
SM: Assembly democracy is not working. I don’t like that speaking for motions is timed and so is arguing, and that it decreases with each person that speaks. It creates a combative and aggressive atmosphere. It’s hard to get a discussion going. You also can’t amend small things in motions, which leads to some motions being voted off. I’d like to create an open forum that anyone can go to and send in items for discussion. It might be about possible Assembly motions or about campaigns. Last year I didn’t know most of the people that went to Assembly.
MR: It makes sense. I’d go to it.
RM: Could you bring a motion to this forum to have it talked through?
SM: I’d like members of Assembly to be invited but not be allowed to vote to make it more equal.
CG: A lot of people don’t realise that anyone can go to Assembly and write motions.
SM: There’s a whole democracy review so they told me not to do it yet, but I think this will help.
LH: It’s not taking anything away or affecting Assembly, it’s just adding something.
EM: The SU should employ fewer people and give more money to common rooms. They get £2.5 million per year. Colleges without sabbatical officers are very hamstrung.
CG: They should form a committee of students for the democracy review.
SM: It looks like the democracy review will be a long process.
Action: CG to email KM (SU president) about the democracy review.
*CG should vote in favour of this.*
Motion to remove Secret Ballot from Procedural Motions
CG: We’re all elected representatives and we all be accountable for what we vote for. Currently it can be moved to a secret ballot. We think that that shouldn’t be a thing. Last year the abortion motion was almost a secret ballot.
RM: It can be important if there are people in the room who are intimidating.
CG: There’s pressure to vote a certain way because you’re elected to represent other people. I think everyone should know how their representative voted on matters.
JC: There is a difference between being pressured by people in the room and feeling pressure based on the people you represent.
SM: There were some quite aggressive individuals during the second abortion debate. I can see why it’s necessary, but it could be used as a tactical way to get around representation.
CG: Someone could give me a dirty look, but I’m representing this committee.
MT: There’s a difference between a bad look and implied threat.
LH: People need to realise that reps don’t vote based on their own opinions.
MT: Threatening behaviour is irrational regardless. I don’t think that’s a robust argument. They can’t stop people from being in the room.
RM: The way SU assembly works is that 10 people with an opinion come to Assembly and discuss it, and that can be intimidating.
CG: I post on facebook how I vote because I think it’s important. I think the SU should be able to track it so students can look up how I voted.
RM: I don’t think anyone should be mandated to vote based on committees like this, because sometimes new information comes up on the day.
SM: Sometimes SU comm wasn’t sure on some motions so I played it by ear.
CG: 60% of people on the survey liked this motion.
MT: Could it not be made so that it’s always public unless there’s pressure in the room?
CG: But that’s why someone would propose a secret ballot.
JS: Can we say we’ll vote in favour unless a convincing new point comes up?
*Quick summary of current rules.*
MT: I think it’s fine as it is. But I’m torn.
CG: In my head I represent all JCR members, and I’m not accountable to them unless my voting is public.
EJ: The responsibility comes with the office.
*Agreement that CG will vote in favour unless a convincing new point comes up.*