In Tuesday’s Students’ Union Council, a motion was proposed by Democracy and Communications Officer Luke Mitchell to change the minimum number of students needed to validate a referendum.
Mitchell proposed that the quorum level should be measured in the number of students rather than as a percentage of the population. Under the current system, 10% of the student body must take part in a referendum in order for it to be valid. Mitchell proposed instead that the minimum figure should be 2000 students.
The reason for this change was in part because of the difficulty in measuring the number of students in the student population. Mitchell commented that the University is unaware of the exact number of the student body meaning percentage calculations are unreliable.
Elizabeth Goddard, last year’s Education Officer, contested this assumption. She argued that given that the Union was a membership organisation it should “surely know the number of members it has”. She also pointed out that a small number of students can easily be swayed and questioned the quorum levels in other Universities.
The level for quorum has already been decreased in recent years from 20%. Goddard stated that 2000 students would be less than 6%.
She added that the matter should be judged on the turnout in referenda like the forthcoming one on the SU’s pro-choice stance, as opposed to something like the Big Ask, which did not attract enough voters to be quorate.
SU President, Amos Teshuva, seconded the motion. He argued that 2000 was a realistic number.
In light of the debate, the motion has been postponed for two Council meetings, and will be proposed again in May.