While the review was well planned and generally welcomed by the Council there were differences of opinion on some of the finer points. The planned reduction of societies’ representatives on Union Council was a particularly contentious point of debate.
The original proposal of the non-sabbatical review was focused on streamlining and efficiency, and as such suggested a reduction of officers on Union Council. Societies’ stood to lose one of their two non-sabbatical representatives. Vice President FEDS Andy Johnston and Societies Union Chair Edwin Burrows consulted the societies on Wednesday. From this an amendment was proposed to the review to keep both officers.
The amendment was not passed when put to a vote. Burrows was particularly vocal, causing the debate to become quite heated. Speaking after the Council, Burrows stated that he felt it ‘somewhat hypocritical that the points in this non-sabb review that have had the most consultation with students are the ones that have been shot down by the union council’, claiming he had no chance to submit an official petition.
Burrows blamed the late council agenda release containing the review details for leaving ‘no opportunity for students to voice their opinions’. The counter to this was that policy exists for a reason, with Chair of Council Robbie Pickles stating that once submitted correctly, Burrows petition could be taken into account.
Ben Griffiths, a Steering Group Representative and President of Rock Soc, was reluctant to offer an extensive view on the disappointing result. He commended Johnston, however, praising how “he wasn’t actually in favour of that amendment but he still argued on its behalf”. On the other hand, Vice President of Philosophy Society Fred Bullman was critical. Calling the council a “room full of yes men”, he feels sabbatical officers are “people getting off on who they were and what position they were and I’ve no time for it.”
Both Johnston and Griffiths are adamant that this isn’t the case. Johnston claimed council policy is “democracy as democracy is supposed to work. We’re always going to get an unhappy minority”. Johnston says “myself and Edwin decided to take the view of the societies’ council” despite his recommendation to Payne to remove both non-sabbaticals. Griffiths supported the students who attended “considering it was firework night and really a lot of societies hadn’t known about it until the meeting on Wednesday”, and feels they were acknowledged.