Hello everybody! Get ready for a new exciting week at Union Council!
One of the many things that we will be discussed this week is the opportunity to have a better full time officer structure. The four existing full time officers want to really improve the student experience instead of focusing only on internal processes, financial and technical issues. It has been noted that is also a bit strange for a big union like us not to have a President. These issues will be discussed and addressed.
Following the suggestion that a new coffee shop managed by a chain might substitute the Hive, the issue of tax avoidance became unavoidable. However the union thinks that no collaboration should be made with companies that promote tax avoidance or other unethical practices not only regarding commercial activities but also concerning advertising.
The union will also discuss the motion that seconds the amendment to Byelaw 8.29 on vacancy advertising. This law says that all of the Union’s “external posts as a minimum will be advertised in the Evening News and/or the Eastern Daily Press as well as the Job Centre’. However it is believed that this byelaw causes a great expenditure of money, when there are alternative and cheaper options for advertising and recruitment. Therefore it will be discussed to amend the byelaw in order to cut what is believed to be an unnecessary expenditure of money.
As many of you might already now, the next UK general elections will be in 2015 and European Parliament elections will take place in May 2014. At the last 2010 general elections it came out among young people aged 18-24 only the 44% voted, compared to the 76% of the over 65s! Young people make up the majority of next generation and their choices are important and will also affect future decisions. The union thus proposes to collaborate with NUS in order to better the interests of the next generation. Therefore the motion to support NUS by signing a partnership between NUS and the Trades Union Congress will be discussed this Thursday in order to get a clearer understanding on how young people can be drawn in, get involved and make a difference.
For those interested in Cheerleading it will be an interesting night: the UEA Cheerleading Dance have qualified for an international final. Although the union already provides money for student sport competitions, funding the two tournaments a year that the club usually participates to, the club noticed that they will be unable to attend this international competition if the Union does not give them additional funds. The club has already started a successful fundraising campaign across campus but the representatives believe that the union should provide opportunities for student development wherever possible. This motion will then be discussed on Thursday to see what it can be done for the club.
A greatly important issue will also be discussed: it has been noted that UEA has committed to be ‘greener’ and reduce CO2 emission 35% by 2015 aspiring to become ‘an exemplary low carbon campus’. However, UEA has invested a great amount of money ( around £130,000!) in some of the largest fossil fuel companies including Shell, BHP Billton and Rio Tinto. People&Planet has launched a Fossil Free UK campaign, calling on UK higher education institutions to divest from fossil fuels and cut their link with these companies. The Union believes that fossil fuel industries are extremely complicit in causing climate change and its catastrophic impact and that we must do everything in our power to reduce the global use of fossil fuel. Moreover, UEA’s investment in the fossil fuel industry is not really consistent with their claim of becoming an ‘exemplary low carbon campus’. The idealisation and support of a high-profile Fossil Free campaign on campus will be discussed as well as the possibility of the circulation of information about UEA’s investments and the companies it invests in.
For those concerned about the police and security’s guard presence in the Union House there will be plenty to discuss. As many of you might already know, on the afternoon of 5th November 2013, a security guard accompanied by two police officers entered Union House to quiz students about their involvement in a peaceful protest that took place on campus earlier that day, without asking the permission of Sabbatical officers and the Chief Executive before entering the building. It is true that the police is allowed to enter any licensed premises where they suspect a crime may have taken places, but many students found their presence there intimidating and off putting. Other students union in the UK have policy which states that police can only enter union premises via appointment or explicit invitation. The Union believes that is unacceptable for the police to turn up in such places and question them about union policy or events. Plus, students should be able to go on protests without fear that their personal information will be given to the police. The motion to restrict access to the police to Union House unless via explicit invitations or appointment will be discussed and put forward, so come and have your say and know more about it!
Additionally, some of the students have been concerned about the ‘Members Only’ policy and believe that it causes a separation from the Norwich community which potentially makes student experience worse. They feel uncomfortable with this decision and think that the policy should be restricted only to LCR events. Therefore they believe that union bar staff is capable of making reasonable decisions of whether to allow entry to non-members and they should be trusted to do so. Thus they will ask to amend the ‘Members Only’ policy.
Finally, some of the students are concerned with ATOS healthcare conduct and role in disability assessment and behaviour, as it causes distress to people with disabilities. Therefore they believe the union should work with NUS Disabled Students Campaign against ATOS and that it should not enter into any partnership with ATOS.
It sounds like an intense, interesting council, right? If you want to have a say in these issues, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your representative or come this Thursday at 7pm at the Council in Lecture Theatre 3! Make your voice heard!