- Explosive end of year Council to discuss making dogs honorary vice presidents, appointing an ambassador to France, and even demanding the University adopts Oxbridge style colleges.
- More serious proposals include taking power away from Union Council whilst putting it into the hands of smaller ‘Zones’, and Vote of No Confidence against Experience Sabb-elect Jay Appleyard.
- All proposals can be read in full here.
A row has erupted over the seriousness of Union Council, as a few union members have submitted policies to rename the square, appoint an ambassador to France, and make all dogs honorary vice presidents of the Students’ Union seemingly as a joke.
The most controversial of these – the proposal to adopt dogs as honorary vice presidents – was forwarded by Union President candidate Peter Clarke, who ran on a platform of reopening the Scholar in the February elections.
‘The Union believes that all dogs should be honorary vice presidents of the Students’ Union’, the proposal states, ‘the only logical response is to reopen the Scholar to the full entirety of its former glory.’
It is unknown how much reopening the Scholar will assist the proposal’s beliefs.
Alex Clarke, the Union officer who seconded the proposal, told The Ripple ‘we are sick and tired of the lack of recognition canines have received despite being our species’ “best friend.” Instead, felines have received all the fuss of late.‘
‘We may only be one students’ union, but that hasn’t stopped us standing up against global injustice before.‘
When asked whether he though the proposal would pass, Union President Dan Flatt told The Ripple ‘I don’t think that this is very likely to pass as I feel the majority of council will see the jokey side of the proposal.’
‘It is tradition to have more jokey proposals at the end of the year and clearly this academic year is no exception. It is evident that there are clearly more important things to be discussed though however,’ alluding to the democracy reforms and Vote of No Confidence.
In an exclusive interview with The Ripple, Dan Flatt came out in support of Appleyard, the Experience sabb-elect who is facing a Vote of No Confidence in the June 10th meeting, after winning the election this year with 500 votes more than any of his competitors.
‘I do not feel that the no confidence will pass,’ said Flatt, ‘I also think that it will be a great shame if it did. Democracy has already spoken and during the elections it was quite clear that the membership wanted to elect Jay.’
The vote, which requires a 2/3rds majority, is unlikely to pass, and follows a post-election petition set up by the proposer, Naimi Fowlis, following the release of controversial photographs of Mr Appleyard during the election. Fowlis told The Ripple in March that the petition was to ‘show that the elections do not speak for everyone- not everyone votes;’ a successful Vote of No Confidence will trigger another election, in which Appleyard may still run.
The other pressing issue of the June 10th Council session – a series of changes to how Council works, have caused a split between sabb efforts to ‘streamline’ democracy in the Union, and several concerned officers attempts to curb these reforms, which according to one officer ‘gives a wholly disproportionate and undemocratic amount of power to zones‘, sparking fears that power would be concentrated in the hands of even less representatives.
Harry Wells, the Distance Learning Officer, told The Ripple that ‘the idea that a proposal could be passed by a third of the already very small (and oft critiqued as unrepresentative) body that is Union Council seems to me to be directly at odds with the energy to engage students council normally possesses.’
The reforms will also grant the existing Steering Committee powers of Scrutiny, including a ‘traffic light’ based ranking system for Officer’s reports.
Sean Kelly-Walsh, Sabb for Engagement and the chief proposer of the reforms, told The Ripple ‘I am determined that both the executive officers and the other elected officers are scrutinized sufficiently, as at the moment there is very little scrutiny.’
‘The reason I am bringing this proposal to council is to ensure our democracy is as open and visible as possible. I want people to be able to get involved in creating change while at Uni, and not be hindered by bureaucracy, and then become disillusioned by not having the outcome they want.’
Edit to include clarification, 08/06/2014, 21:50: Mr Kelly-Walsh has since clarified and said that zones do not and will have the power to pass policy, and has told The Ripple that zones will not be receiving additional powers, but will instead only have their existing powers formalised.
Union Council will take place in the Fielding Johnson Council Chamber, inside the Law Building, at 6.30 pm on Tuesday, June 10th.
This will be the last Union Council of 2013-14, all are welcome. The farewell Sabbatical Officer speeches will take place after Union business ends (check The Ripple’s Twitter feed and Facebook page for pictures, videos, and updates before, during and after the session).