Union Council will vote this week on the proposal of a joint membership scheme between the three student media organisations: Bailrigg FM, LUTube.TV and SCAN.
The proposal, which has been agreed by SCAN and LUTube.TV, was voted down by Bailrigg FM in a General Meeting last Wednesday. Since then, Bailrigg members in favour of the proposal have petitioned for an Emergency General Meeting to revote.
According to Section 7.11 of Bailrigg’s constitution “Emergency General Meetings […] must also be called if the station director is petitioned to do so, in writing, by at least ten station members.”
However, the Bailrigg Management Committee (ManCom) claims that there is no need to hold an EGM as they believe not all of the ten petitioners were members of Bailrigg, the issue is not an emergency and there is not sufficient time to organise it.
A member of ManCom told SCAN that the information was “unreliable” and no such EGM was occurring. “I can confirm that the management team are working alongside LUSU and that this issue will be discussed further at Union Council,” they added.
Union Council is the highest policy-making body within the Students’ Union. Its members may decide whether the joint membership scheme would still go through, with or without Bailrigg FM.
At last week’s General Meeting only 11 members voted against the proposal while nine voted in favour. There were five abstentions.
Bailrigg FM’s chief engineer Tony Chung and member Edwin Burrows argued against the proposal whilst LUSU President Michael Payne and VP (Media & Communications) Liam Richardson argued in favour.
Richardson laid out the content of the proposal, which included reduction in membership fees to £3 for all three organisations and centralised membership system with membership card.
He said: “Fundamentally, I believe that the Students’ Union should be providing people with opportunities. I think the student media is the most exciting opportunity that we provide. More students should be able to do this.”
At present, students who want to join Bailrigg FM and LUTube.TV pay fees of £10 and £5 respectively whilst SCAN does not require any membership. Under the joint membership scheme, Bailrigg FM would receive £5,500 from LUSU on top of the block grant and other funding that it has already been receiving.
Chung stressed that he did not oppose the idea of joint membership in general and welcomed the additional funding from LUSU. However, he was unhappy with the manner in which he felt the proposal had been rushed through Bailrigg FM and LUTube.TV.
“I do not believe that the time is sufficient to make the necessary changes and address the main concerns,” he said. “There is no reason why we can’t take some extra time to look at this proposal, make it acceptable for everyone and come back next year.”
According to Chung, the proposal was brought to the station’s management team three times and there were issues raised. He was concerned that rather than addressing these issues, the proposal was immediately elevated to the general meeting.
In principle, Burrows too supported the joint student media membership scheme. However, he had concerns about reduction of the members’ stake in the station under the proposal. He worried that by giving LUSU more financial influence, members will lose control over the station as the Union may be able to withdraw funding.
“The Union had made no effort to listen to the concerns and attempt to find a compromise,” he told SCAN. “Instead it was [so much] more interested in trying to force through their flawed proposal that they hadn’t bothered to consult members.”
Payne, in response to Burrows’ argument, told Bailrigg FM members at the meeting: “Everybody has a say as a member in this organisation. All we’re trying to do today is to see if people agree with the basic concept. We can work out any organisational and logistical issues along the way.”