Four different referenda will be held in February in a series of proposals that the Students’ Union are calling ‘The Big Ask’. The referenda suggest a number of changes to the way that the Union is run, including whether the SU should change their executive structure and decision-making structure. It will also ask whether the SU should allow students to become members of the Board of Trustees and whether serving sabbatical officers could run for a second term.
The proposed change to the Executive structure will see the removal of four of the current positions – Financial & Services, Equal Opportunities & Welfare, Environment & Social Justice, and Accommodation & Community – and the roles of the remaining five positions will be redefined.
The second referendum will ask students whether they wish to approve a shake-up of the democratic process. Under the new system, students could submit their ideas for change online and those that are voted most popular with students will be taken to debate at Union assembly. Ideas that are deemed to be important but not necessarily ‘popular’ will be assessed by Representative or Executive Officers. The plans also include the proposed rebrand of the SU Council, which will become ‘Union Assembly’. Although elected officers will attend these meetings, only the elected Union Representatives and a randomly selected representative group of student panellists will be able to vote.
The third proposal is the introduction of students to the Board of Trustees, the body that oversees decision-making. Currently, the Board consists of four Exec Officers and four external Trustees. Under these proposals, an additional four Student Trustees will be appointed by a panel and then approved by Union Assembly.
The final component of the Big Ask would give first year Sabbatical Officers the chance to run for a second term. Currently, officers are unable to stand for re-election, but under this proposal the students would be able to decide whether or not to make this an option for the future.
The referenda will be the first to be held by the SU since 2003. A public debate regarding the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ sides to each referenda will be held on the 6th of February, with campaigning and voting taking place from the 8th to the 14th of February.