We are only on the first days of the second term, and the council agenda is already packed with things to discuss! This Thursday, the Union Council will start with a presentation by Ben Milner (Associate Dean of Science for Learning and Teaching) who will discuss how teaching can be greatly improved by using students’ feedback. Along with the reports from student Officers and representatives the following issues will be considered:
All the policies prior to March 2011 are to be lapsed. There is a proposal to make them become policy precedent instead of deleting them permanently. If any of the council members want to keep or discuss them, please make a note and bring it to council for discussion.
FULL TIME OFFICER STRUCTURE
As you might now, we are currently reviewing our full time officer structure. There will be a presentation concerning the possible new structure and the report on the meeting held on the 20 January will be discussed.
STUDENT REPS NEEDED
Four undergraduate student reps and 1 postgraduate research student are required to provide an input to the Library and IT forum to improve their quality and impact on students!
After that, there are the motions that will be discussed:
Ensuring all our members can access council
According to the constitution, no kind of discrimination is tolerated and all union meetings should be conducted respectfully, making sure that the information is accessible for students and staff. However, some of the members noticed that emergency motions were submitted less than 2 hours before the start of the meeting, and that the meetings have been going on until late at night without adequate breaks. This is believed to shut out disabled students from participating actively to the meetings, so members will discuss amendments to policies to make the meetings more accessible to everyone.
Fair pay campus
UEA is the 43rd worst performer in the Fair Pay Campus League Table in 2013 with no assurance that sub-contracted workers are paid the Living Wage. University like SOAS and University of London have already achieved an accredited Fair Pay Campus status. This is given when the pay ration of the university is no higher than 10:1 and that all workers are paid a living wage, which is currently £7.55. UEA is recruiting a new Vice-Chancellor and this can be a good moment to make pay more equitable on campus. The proposal is to increase the living wage to £7.65 and that Student Officer Committee should write a letter to the university requesting it to take this policy into account, especially when recruiting the new Vice-Chancellor and new sub-contracted workers.
UEA Students’ Union code of conduct
Our Union doesn’t currently have any code of conduct and this is problematic because it means that the right to refuse admission in the LCR and bars doesn’t have a legitimate constitutional basis. Procedures for incidents are not believed to be properly comprehensive and members of clubs and societies themselves would have to investigate or issue sanctions on the basis of misconduct. Therefore members will discuss the opportunity of creating a single code that sets out the personal conduct expected from all members of the Union.
The Union wasn’t consulted on increase in costs of university accommodation and was merely “briefed” on the matter. Next year the University expects accommodation to make £1m profit against the £350k of this year. Plus, this increase won’t go towards the improvement of accommodations but to “general; university funds”. This doesn’t seem to get along with Norwich being classified as one of the cheapest student city and will only increase students’ financial problems. Opportunities to campaign and lobby for changes will be discussed.
Relationship between UEA and the Union
There is no clear agreement on the relationship between UEA and the Union between the two parties, and this is quite rare. The University should ensure that the Union operates in a fair and democratic manner and it is also accountable for its finances. On the other hand, the Union represents the students of the University and exists to improve the experience of the students of that particular University. So, even though the Union operates autonomously in its matters, it does so within the corporate ambition of the university, which makes it part of the University itself. Therefore members will discuss the possibility of developing a new agreement to clear the working relationships between the two.
Clarification of Staff Protocol
Trustees removed a policy from Union Council agenda and this caused a conflict between them and the Councillors on account of its possible breach of staff protocol. Thus, members of the council propose an amendment to the byelaws to make sure that the power and responsibility to rule motions, amendments or items in or out of order shall rest with the chair.
At last Council, discussion on motions didn’t begin until 9pm especially due to the amount of highly technical questions that took considerable time. Members of the council propose to add clauses to the byelaws to establish a Scrutiny Committee that can deal with these issues.
That’s all! Interested in any of the motions? 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 http://www.ueastudent.com , then click ‘representation’) and join the Facebook Group ‘UEA’ Union Council Motions and Decisions 2013/2014.