Voting intention for Guild Council 29/1/2015

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Here’s how we will be voting on behalf of BEMA at Guild Council today.

There will be 2 parts to Council – the regular side with motions and officer accountability, and amendments for a new proposed democratic model for the Guild.

Both are covered below, any questions/issues with our intentions holla at bema@guild.bham.ac.uk

or Council is open to all otherwise, 6pm in Guild Council Chambers.

Peace,

BEMA

1) Motions

Motion number Motion title Summary of motion Voting intention
11a) Zero Tolerance for Violation of the Zero Tolerance Extend the Zero Tolerance policy into Guild Council properly, by having Councillors put to vote of no confidence for breaking it. For

 

Seems like this kind of protects Councillors from being subject to the Policy as other students would though, and looks a little complicated on paper…provided these can be explained properly, isrsupported in principle.

11b) External affiliations Referendum for students to vote on externally-affiliated organsiations of the Guild, find way to make this a yearly thing For
11c) Sabb Timetables Officers to publish their weekly timetables online For
11d) TVs in Joes Look into feasibility of showing TV on the TVs in Joes Yeah
11e) The Guild to affiliate with Movement Against Xenophobia Organisations campaigning against demonization of migrants For
11f) Officers supporting election candidates Change it so that GulildOfficers can not endorse candidates in elections, as was the case before this year. For

 

This change was brought in by Officers over summer without consultation.

Potential for officers picking successors and investing their free time in campaigning, unfair.

11g) The Vice Chancellor’s Pay Guild to release statement criticizing Vice Chancellor’s pay, esp. compared to pay of other workers in University.

He earned £410,000 last year

For

Bourgeois swine.

2) Referendum model

See the proposed model here:

Referendum Proposed Model Outline

In this Council we’ll also be discussing/voting on amendments to a new proposed democratic model for the Guild, which will go to a cross-campus referendum soon to potentially replace Council.

In summary, the new model would allow students to make online submissions for Ideas (replacing Council motions) to change what the Guild does/how it is run or for questions/punitive measures against Guild Officers (Reprimands and Censures).
Ideas would be put online for a vote; those receiving over 2/3rds of votes in favour automatically pass as Guild policy, those with under 1/3rd in favour fall, those with between 1/3rd and 2/3rds go to a General Assembly open to all students once a term to be debated and voted on.

This model continues a process to reform the Guild’s democratic structures that began last academic year, when a (very problematic) model was proposed which was ultimately voted down, keeping Council in place.

As before, this new proposed model aims to create a more wide-participation and easier-to-use system involving online and all-student voting instead of only elected Councillors.
As before, there are some potentially significant issues with the new model and proposals (particularly with regards to scheduling of General Assemblies, reducing deliberative democracy, the new ‘Assessment Group’ replacing Steering Committee); the amendments submitted to this Council aim to address this.

Below are a list of amendments and quick initial thoughts on them.
Some amendments overlap/conflict with one another, but here are taken solely on their individual merit with regards to the proposed model; whether they would make it better or not.

Amendment # Description of amendment Voting intention
1. ‘Ideas’, Officer reprimands/censures and questions to officers can be submitted by student groups and Associations, as well as individuals. For
2. Further breaks down the categories that individuals can submit to, for clarity For
3. Expands the ‘Assessment group’ that reviews submissions from members For

As the model currently proposes, the Vice President (Democracy, Resources and Sustainability) has sole decision-making control over the assessment process and is the only voting member of the group.

Adding extra members to it ensures some more balance to the deliberation process for submissions, which can end up being a politicised one.

4. Questions submitted to Officers to be responded to within one week. For
5. Tightens up the role of the Assessment Group and the assessment process for submissions to make it more advisory for proposers.

Submission can only be rejected if they are proved (with legal advice) to be illegal/defamatory/libellous.

For

The threat of potential legal issues can and has been used to dead motions and action in the past for Guild Council, etc.

So, best to have this verified by a proper legal opinion to avoid it being used to suppress contentious proposals.

6. Any rejection of an Idea submission must be unanimous. For
7. Assessment group can only advise, not reject submissions.

Legally contentious Ideas will go straight to a General Assembly, skipping the online stage.

Unsure

First part is good,

second part seems like it could be manipulated to by-pass the system.

8. Ideas posted online can be commented on by signed-in members and Liberation ad Representation Associations. For
9. Staggers online amendment voting process to highlight Liberation Association concerns. For
10. Quoracy for online votes from 2% to 1% For

 

Still around 300 votes needed for quoracy

 

11. Quoracy for online votes from 2% to 100 students For
12. Ideas will be uploaded online in weekly batches For
13. Ideas that are deferred to the General Assembly and identified as Liberation or Representation concerns are open to priority ballot prior to the Assembly, to determine their position in the agenda. For
14. Retains Guild Council alongside General Assemblies; motions that are voted in with more than 50% but less than 2/3rds approval go to General Assembly. Unsure

Significantly changes the proposal, will need to hear any discussion in Council first

15. General Assembly to take place twice a term instead of once For

 

Somewhat alleviates issue with the responsiveness of having termly Assemblies

16. General Assembly to take place at last 8 times a year; min. 3 in term one, 3 in term two, 2 in term three For
17. Chair and Deputy Chair of General Assembly to be elected by cross-campus ballot For
18. Chair of General Assembly to be elected during term 2 officer elections (instead of at beginning of year) Unsure
19. Puts time restrictions on speeches For
20. Outlines Zero Tolerance Policy mechanism/punitive process for General Assembly For
21. Chair to allow amendments during General Assemblies For

 

Things are brought to light during debate and discussion; good to be reflexive with the democratic process

22. Approval of Student Guild Trustees to be voted on by General Assembly (serving the function Council does now) For
23. Elections of Student representatives to University Senate to be voted on by General Assembly (serving the function Council does now) For
24. Elections of Student representatives on the Trustee Appointment Panel to be voted on by General Assembly (serving the function Council does now) For
25. Brings the current Trustee Appointment Panel into the new structure For
26. General Assembly to receive quarterly budget reports/minutes on the Trustee Board For
27. Extraordinary General Assemblies can be called by petition of 200 students For
28. ‘No student physically present in the meeting shall be disenfranchised due to resource issues. If necessary, voting in the meeting will go on until every student has had a chance to vote’ For
29. Proxy voters can be nominated to vote on behalf of students with disabilities/mental health conditions/are mature or part-time or international or parents or carers at General Assemblies For
30. Voting process for Ideas brought to General Assemblies begins anew, and need 50%/simple majority vote to pass (not cumulative 66%).

Online voting concurrent with Assembly.

For
31. ‘At every General Assembly, information about the average number of votes on ideas and the proportion of ideas which fail to reach quoracy will be given. The General Assembly will be given the option of reducing the quoracy for online voting by 25% of the current quoracy for online voting each time. There will be a quoracy of 50 for this to pass.’ Maybe, dunno.
32. Censures (more serious) for Officers would need to be submitted online at least a few days prior to General Assemblies (to allow Officers to develop a response/defence).
Reprimands (less serious) and questions can be dropped on the spot.
For
33. Scrutiny committee to oversee/decide whether or not requests for a Vote of No Confidence in an Officer are appropriate Against

Adds to bureaucracy, further removes accountability.

Don’t trust this Scrutiny committee.

34. Guild committees submit reports to General Assemblies For
35. Removes ‘Full-time Officer group’ from Guild committees, subsumes full-time Officers in Guild Officer Group (including Part-time officers) For
36. 2 members of Student Equality and Diversity Committee to be elected at General Assembly For
37. Each student group to have one voting member of the Student Groups Executive (which decides on student group disciplinary processes, grant allocations etc.) Against

 

Too many members for a functional committee

38. Full-time officers to each have a relevant Standing Committee which meets fortnightly, can provide oversight on, facilitate officer plans and hold them to account.

Grievances submitted online directed at a particular officer can be dealt with by their Standing Committee if time-sensitive.

Officers preside over groups of representatives already (e.g. Vice President (Education) has their Student Reps), this idea brings in an extra power/accountability dynamic.

Sounds kind of interesting, not gonna lie.

Potential issue of Standing Committees having too much punitive power, but will wait to see what’s discussed in Council.

39. Changes to diagram Aite
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