Hey, below is a summary of the motions up for discussion at Guild Council, and how I intend to vote on them as BEMA’s representative.
Let me know if you have any input or objections to either motions or intention.
Guild Council starts at 6pm and is open to any student
it will also be streamed live (a link should be available from www.redbrick.me).
|Motion title||Summary of motion||My voting intention|
|9a) VPDR motion
(Deferred from last Council)
|Change name of Guild ‘Vice President of Democracy and Resources’ to ‘Vice President of Democracy and Sustainable Resources’, better reflecting the aims of the role.||For|
|9b) Capitalism Beliefs
(Deferred from last Council)
|Make it official stance that “The Guild believes that capitalism does not benefit members of the Guild of Students”.||For|
|9c) Guild Council Guidance Notes reform
(Deferred from last Council)
|Ratify re-written Guild Council guidance notes to better reflect Guild’s current needs.||For
Mostly; will ask for amendments to some points that seem questionable/give Chair of Council too much power
|9d) Voting Regulations||Both self-defining Disabled students and now those ‘who feel strongly’ about Disability (carers etc.) will be encouraged to vote for the Disabled Students’ Officer in elections.||Against
To me, this motion violates the ‘liberation’ aspect of the DAMS Association (Disabled and Mental Health Students’ Association), and would prove disempowering to its members.
|9e) Unethical companies should not be allowed to advertise jobs in the Guild||Companies identified by Guild policy as being unethical/environmentally damaging will no longer have their job spaces actively promoted by the Guild.
The Guild is already disallowed from securing contracts/services from such companies by its Ethical Business Practices code; this would bring the Guild further in line with such policy.
Will check to see that in their place, alternative job opportunities will be actively pursued and promoted by the Guild.
|9f) Changing the VPS’s title||Change the title of the Guild Vice President (Sport) to Vice President (Sport and Nutrition) to better reflect the nature of the role.||For|
|9g) Sports Club stereotyping prevention||Make it commitment that the Guild clearly does not condone stereotyping of sports club members.||For|
|9h) Healthy Eating motion||Make it commitment that the Guild will communicate the importance of healthy eating/active lifestyle.||For|
|9i) My Vote
Re-submitted from last Council
|Motions in Guild Council that receive between 45-55% (inclusive) of votes For (vs. Against) or those with more Abstentions votes (vs. either For or Against individually) will be taken to online referendum for general students to vote on via my.bham.||Against
Just about; I like the idea of having the general population of students voting on issues in the Guild.
But many votes pass with small majorities (say 53%) and it might in practice prove unwieldy and redundant to have numerous motions put up for referendum after every Council.
Also those voting in referenda wouldn’t be privy to the nuance of arguments that could be made in Council.
The Abstentions point, alone, I would accept.
|9j) Article Four Directions||Make it Guild policy to oppose government legislature that would restrict where students/migrant workers can live
(the ‘Article Four Directions’, that impose restrictions on the creation of HMOs; the property types most used by students)
|9k) Office hours||Guild Councillors must hold 2×1 hour meetings with constituents before every Guild Council meeting for canvassing.||Against
I’m not against the principle, I think it’s good to place more responsibility upon Guild Councillors and ensure they engage with their constituents.
But I don’t think enforcing this is best way to accomplish that; different Councillors and constituent groups might function in different ways, and alternative mediums for consultation might prove more effective.
|9l) Solidarity with International students||Set Guild Policy on- and support campaigns to improve the conditions of International students in the UK.||For
This is especially important given how the recent cases like those at London Metropolitan University highlight the government’s ongoing attack on internationals/international students.
|9m) University Meetings||For the Sabbatical Officer group to refuse co-operation with any University attempts at restricting officers/elected student representatives from engaging with the University.||For
Allowing the University to exercise any such power over the Guild and our representatives undermines the credibility and effectiveness of the Guild in representing the interests of students.
This motion is in response to recent such actions by the University.
|9n) College Reps||Create a new category of representatives in the Guild: ‘College Reps’.||For|
|9o) University Industrial Relations||Guild’s default stance will be to support University staff strike action, and mobilise students to support such strikes – particular in light of the University’s actions to close down/downsize a number of departments recently.||ForGiven the recent examples of Dr Jose Nafafe (http://birminghamuniversityethnicity.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/protest-over-nafafes-redundancy-ends-in-occupation/)
and the University’s constant stream of course closures and reviews (http://www.redbrick.me/2012/10/staff-and-students-unite-to-protest-iaa-closure/; http://www.defendeducationbrum.org/physiotherapy-report-leaked)the importance of this motion is pretty evident.
|9p) Steering Council||Alter the role/remit of Steering group to be more in line with those of other Student Unions; remove Sabbatical officers (minus VPDR) from the group.||For
Steering is the group responsible for scrutinising motions submitted to Guild Council, and has the power to edit and occasionally reject motions based on a number of criteria (some of which are pretty open to interpretation).
This is power that can be abused politically, and its ability to reject motions is also unusual compared to other Unions, so I think it ought to be powered down.
Also given that many motions mandate Sabbatical officers, to have them judging the acceptability of motions prior to Council is a bit of conflict of interest.
|9q) Contracts motion||VPDR and CAO (Community Action Officer) to investigate and publish about the length of leases held by Subway/Costa/Spar/Santander in the Guild building, and whether there are contractual clauses affecting the renewal/ending of those.||For
Ideally the Guild should house and support more locally-based/student-run enterprises and exercise some social responsibility I think, rather than hold franchises of generic multinational companies.
|9r) Fresher Fest||Sabbatical officers to work with Liberation groups/officers etc. to ensure Freshers Fest next year caters better for those students currently not represented by the range of activities offered.||For
This year BEMA ran an Alternative Freshers Week for students who couldn’t/didn’t want to get involved with the standard range of mostly alcohol-focused events provided by the Guild.
If the Guild could accommodate for such students/activities themselves then all the better.
|9s) RA Training||Improve the quality of training of RAs (Resident Associations for Halls).||For|
|9t) Action||The Guild will encourage and support students’ actions in defence of education, including protest by walkout, occupation and actions that disrupt University’s events.||For
Definitely; the current climate for Higher Education is very unsettling, and the University’s happy complicity with the government’s destructive policies is not something students should be accepting in apathy.
Action is thus justified, and the Guild has a duty to support students here.
|9u) Student Housing||Guild should actively support financially viable alternative solutions to improving the state of accommodation/rent in Selly Oak et al., including affirming support for housing co-operatives.||For|
|9v) Reprimands and Censures||Introduce ‘Reprimands’ as a new type of punishment in Guild Council against Officers for minor offences (vs Censures for more serious ones)||For|