A historic motion to drastically change the structure of the Students’ Union passed unanimously without debate last night at SU Council.
Almost three years of research has gone into these plans, which will be implemented from September, and it is hoped that the reforms will result in a more democratic union.
Under the current system, elected officers and representatives vote on issues raised at council, but under the new system a panel of twenty one randomly selected students will decide. Student reps will be able to debate and feed back to the panel, putting forward the views of those they represent, but the final vote will be made by the students. If fourteen or more of these students vote for a motion, it will pass, if seven or less vote it will fall, and if the number is between seven and fourteen a referendum will be called, so that the student body as a whole can decide on more controversial issues. All students will be welcome to come along to council to have their say on matters at any time.
Another major change is the implementation of a “Democratic Procedures Committee”, who will make decisions about any regulation changes. This will consist of three officers and nine cross-campus elected students. The committee will meet three times a year, and again any student is welcome to come along and have their say. There will also be a “Scrutiny Panel”, consisting of six cross-campus elected students, who will hold all full-time officers and the Environment and Social Justice Officer to account on their work.
In addition, committees and networks will now be able to set their own policy autonomously from main SU policy.
“When you’re representing such a large number of students, sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what they all think,” Democracy and Communications Officer Luke Mitchell told Impact. “The best thing about these changes is that it will force the union to be more outward-looking and less cliquey,” said Mitchell, “We will have to justify all the decisions that are made to everyday students.” He added that the reforms would result in “more emphasis on discussion” and that the new system would be “effectively completely student-focussed.”