Union Council is just one way in which you can shape your university and union and make your voice heard. This week the council agenda is looking pretty intense, so get ready to speak up! Here are the motions that will be discussed this Thursday at 7pm:
Amending ‘Members Only’ policy so that Bar Staff are able to have authority to use their own discretion.
A Councillor noticed that whilst Members Only appeared controversial at first, it was motivated by a concern for the safety of members. Meanwhile, many people considered that this policy causes a separation from the Norwich community, which can potentially make the student experience worse. Thus a member of council proposed that the ‘members only’ policy should apply to ‘members only events’ to maintain student safety but during other occasions the union bar staff is believed to be capable of making reasonable decision of whether to allow entry to non-members and they should be trusted to do so.
A Democratic Budget
According to the Bye-Law 10.14: ‘The Chief Executive and senior staff member shall annually review the Union’s Budget with the approval of Union Council or a Referendum.’ A union councilor believes that the budget of the Union is an important document with clear implications for the students and the council should make an informed choice concerning the budget. Thus Union Councillors should consult with their constituents on the budget. This motion then proposes that starting from the 2014/2015 academic year, the relevant sabbatical officer should provide Council with an update on the progress of the previous year’s budget so that it could be presented with clarity and discussed with the Council as a whole.
Protecting the welfare of international students
A policy has been submitted arguing that being an international student can be a really tough experience sometimes. International students can find themselves in a really vulnerable position, in relation to housing, private companies’ exploitation, and healthcare. In effect, international students have come under attack from all sides in recent years: recent proposal for landlords to check their immigration status, the request to purchase insurance or pay a levy in order to access NHS healthcare, are making their position even harder. However, UUEAS and NUS both believe that international students should be entitled to a hassle-free and supportive experience of study in the UK. The policy proposes first of all to make international students aware of these proposed changes but also react against them, signing the national petition against the proposed NHS charges, and campaigning for preventing online property website to prevent their sites from being used to promote property scams.
A Democratic Framework for Finance
One Councillor has argued as mentioned before, that the current constitutional position in relation to the Finances and Budgets needs to be clarified and made more transparent. Finances play a great role in determining the interests of students and it is therefore crucial that union council is consulted about the budget approves it and receives regular reports on it from the Trustee Board. However, it is argued that references to the Chief Executive and senior staff in the bye laws (see Bye-Law 10.14) are not appropriate because it is the Trustee Board and elected officers that are accountable to the student body. The union Councillor proposes that the changes to the Bye-Laws include the concept of budgeted contribution, estimates and detailed internal budgets. Plus a report on expenditure & income against the estimates should be presented at union council at least twice per term to increase transparency.
A Better Student Officer Structure: Main Motion
As many of you might already know, a policy passed at the last council to hold a review of officer roles and sending it to a referendum. This consultation process is still ongoing and various suggestions are presented as amendment to this motion. This is because Council believes that students need and deserve a better student officer structure and we should be bold enough to try new roles. It is also important that this happens quickly to ensure that elections can be held next term in good time. The Finance Officer then resolves to mandate the Students Officers Committee to draw up a formal constitutional change proposal for this final resolution and to send it to referendum in the new year based on the recommendations in this policy.
To Formalize the Agreement Between the GSA and the UUEAS
Postgraduates make up approximately 26% of UEA students and only up 6% of Union Council. The 2013 Union Student Survey showed that Postgraduates and Undergraduates have different social requirements. The GSA (Graduate Students’ Association) is an organization separate to the UUEAS and it looks after social and representative requirements of UEA Postgraduates and mature students. In 2002 an agreement was signed defining the relationship between the GSA and the UUEAS, protecting the independent status of the GSA. However, it is argued that the contents of the agreement do not form part of the current UUEAS constitution and cannot be changed except by written agreement of both parties. It is pressed that Postgraduate representation is very important but there is a feeling that postgraduates are under-represented in the existing democratic structures of the UUEAS. Thus the motion proposes to incorporate the agreement between the GSA and the UUEAS into Union policy in order to improve postgraduate representation in the democratic structures of UUEAS.
Motion for A Better Union Council Model
It has been noted that the council uses a debating procedure that hasn’t been changed for a significant amount of time and it is not well understood by many councillors and the general membership. Plus, the majority of times the agenda includes such a large amount of motions that it is often not completed when the meeting ends. The proposer believes that some issues require a different process of discussion to others and the council should have a more flexible system. In effect some of the topics discussed as motions are so straightforward and uncontroversial that would just require a simple go-ahead from Council. Thus the proposer resolves to propose a better and more dynamic council model to be discussed and agreed in order to improve its efficiency.
Amendment to Policy 1304: Fair Pay Campus
The proposer notes that UEA is the 43rd worst performer in the Fair Pay Campus League Table in 2013, with 15 employees paid over £140,000 a year, a pay ratio of over 15:1 and no assurance that sub-contracted workers are paid the Living Wage. Fair Pay Campus accreditation is given when the pay ratio of the university is no higher than 10:1 and that all directly employed and subcontracted workers are paid a living wage. The union believes that there is no distinction between the quality of work done by directly employed and sub-contracted workers and the University should pursue a policy of equal pay for equal work. The proposer then proposes to mandate the Student Officer Committee to write an open letter to the Universities Executive team requesting that they take this policy into account when entering into new contacts that involve employing sub-contract workers and when recruiting the new Vice-Chancellor.
If you want to make your voice heard and have your say about any of these policies, don’t forget to contact your Council rep (if you don’t know who they are visit our website at www.ueastudent.com , then click ‘representation’) and join the Facebook Group ‘UEA’ Union Council Motions and Decisions 2013/2014.