Here’s how I voted on behalf of BEMA at the Guild Council held on 6th December.
As you can see, many motions were starred (*) by attendees at Council to open them up for discussion, but after all other procedure was conducted very little time was left for motions, and very little were voted upon.
So, all the starred motions left undebated here will be deferred to an ‘Emergency Guild Council’ (EGC) to be held early next term, before the regular January Guild Council.
|Motion title||Summary of motion||My vote||Outcome|
|*9a) VPDR motion||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.||N/A||Deferred to January EGC|
|9b) Capitalism Beliefs||Make it official stance that “The Guild believes that capitalism does not benefit members of the Guild of Students”.||N/A||Motion withdrawn by proposer|
|*9c) Guild Council Guidance Notes reform||Ratify re-written Guild Council guidance notes to better reflect Guild’s current needs.||N/A||Deferred to January EGC|
|*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.||N/A||Deferred to January EGC|
|*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.
|N/A||Deferred to January EGC|
|*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.||N/A||Deferred to January EGC|
|*9g) Sports Club stereotyping prevention||Make it commitment that the Guild clearly does not condone stereotyping of sports club members.||N/A||Deferred to January EGC|
|*9h) Healthy Eating motion||Make it commitment that the Guild will communicate the importance of healthy eating/active lifestyle.||For||Passed (with 98%)|
|*9i) My Vote||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.||N/A||Deferred to January EGC|
|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.||N/A||Deferred to January EGC|
|9l) Solidarity with International students||Set Guild Policy on- and support campaigns to improve the conditions of International students in the UK.||N/A||Passed
|*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.||N/A||Deferred to January EGC|
|9n) College Reps||Create a new category of representatives in the Guild: ‘College Reps’.||N/A||Passed
|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.||N/A||Passed
|*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.||N/A||Deferred to January EGC|
|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.||N/A||Passed
|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.||N/A||Passed
|*9s) RA Training||Improve the quality of training of RAs (Resident Associations for Halls).||N/A||Deferred to January EGC|
|*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.||N/A||Deferred to January EGC|
|*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.||N/A||Deferred to January EGC|
|*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||Passed (with 82%)|
9h) I voted For this because I saw nothing of contention in it.
9v) I voted For this because it seemed a sensible enough distinction to make.
The current Guild Officer Disciplinary Policy passed by Guild Council made it so that 3 Censures passed against an Officer automatically triggered a Vote of No Confidence in Council, and so Censures now actually hold value as punitive measures in holding officers to account (whereas before they were essentially, symbolic slap-on-the-wrists).
Given that the procedure prior to this motion passing was for something as minor as having not blogged leading to an Officer’s automatic Censure, making a distinction between Censure/Reprimand to match offence was a necessary.
*Censures for Guild Officers
(note: motion 9v) did not take effect until this Council had concluded, so the following Censures hold no actual weight as punishment)
-Censure VPE (Vice President Education) for not submitting report to Guild Council
I voted For this censure; censure passed
This was a minor indiscretion certainly, and not something I was passionate about particularly. But seemed fair to hold VPE responsible still.
-Censure VPW (Welfare) for not working enough to accommodate certain societies during her Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) week of events.
I voted Against this; censure did not pass
The VPW’s rebuttal to the censure’s allegations seemed genuine.
-Censure LGBTQ Officer for misleading/intentional miscommunication with her committee (the LGBTQ Association)
I Abstained from this; censure passed
The Officer wasn’t present in Council at the time, so I thought it unfair to pass judgement without her telling her side first.
-Censure VPE and VPDR (Democracy & Resources) for their role as speakers/supporters of the Palestine Solidarity rally held in Mermaid Square on the 28th of November after Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense (http://www.redbrick.me/2012/11/protests-take-place-at-guild/)
I voted Against this; censure did not pass
This officers’ defences that they were acting to ‘within a reasonable interpretation’ of the Guild’s policy* on the Israel/Palestine issue, by showing solidarity with Gazans under direct assault from Israel, was something I agreed with.
Also the point made by the VPE that Guild Officers were by nature politically-inclined figures, whose actions and beliefs would thus occasionally divide or give rise to contention among the student population they represent, should (to an extent) be considered a truism by now.
The idea that Officers should stay ‘neutral’ to avoid any conflict with certain groups’ political interests is a fallacy.
*Current Guild Policy states that in line with NUS policy, the Guild supports a peaceful settlement of the Israel/Palestine issue, whilst not explicitly claiming support to either side of the conflict.
As of the time of the Rally, NUS policy affirmed their opposition to Israel’s siege of Gaza and the then-ongoing attack.
Let me know if you have any queries/issues with how I voted.