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The old order changeth: there were very few familiar faces to be seen as we took our seats for Union Council. A new set of JCR Presidents and Cross-Campus Officers, elected at the end of last term, had assembled. Unfortunately for those of us frantically trying to work out who was who, the name badges had not assembled with them.
This was not a problem for the majority of Councillors, who were fresh from the excitement of the Winter Officer Conference (WOC). Held just before the end of the holidays, it provided them with enthusiasm for Union Council and an opportunity to compete for the worst WOC-related pun, an opportunity the Full Time Officers clearly relished.
‘Apologies for not submitting it in writing, I’ve been WOC-ing all over the world last week,’ said Marc Handley, VP (Sports), as he began his Information and Questions. Council groaned. ‘I feel like I’ve been WOC-ed over the head with a brick,’ said Lizzie Houghton, VP (Media and Communications).
Puns aside, the highlight of the evening was the latest in the series of Union Council Presentations; this one from Jonathan Mills of the University’s Facilities Department on the subject of the wind turbine project. After a protracted delay in which the technical equipment was arranged, the lights were dimmed and Mr Mills began dazzling Council with figures. The University would like to erect a wind turbine to help towards their carbon-cutting targets. It will save lots and lots of energy, and bring in lots and lots of money from HEFCE. Mr Mills described in detail how much energy would be saved.
And how could LUSU help in this enterprise? By writing letters to the council planning department in support. As Mr Mills pointed out, those against wind turbine projects are far more likely to write letters to the council than those in favour.
Council seemed less than interested in the finer details, however. Their main concern was whether saved energy would translate into reduced rent for students. Mr Mills sidestepped these questions, commenting that if the energy saved through the carbon competitions in County and Grizedale had been used to lower rent for all students in the college no one would have noticed much difference in price.
Perhaps it was the effect of having to listen so hard, but as soon as Mr Mills took his presentation and left the room the atmosphere became noticeably more relaxed. Matt Windsor, VP (Finance, Events, Democracy and Societies) took the opportunity to point out to new Councillors that “this is exactly the kind of stuff the University does. […] When the University wants something they’ll come to Council, give us nice brochures and dodge all the questions about rent rises.”
Councillors duly warned, the meeting continued, but by now it had begin to descend into a continuation of the WOC party. Hilarity and bad jokes ensued as we meandered through Information and Questions and elected new officers to sit on committees. Mark Lord, in the Chair, was more often heard calling for order than anything else.
Council was finally dismissed after an encouragement to attend University Court next week, and it left the Management School Lecture Theatre Two as harmoniously as it had entered. The party was over – for Week One, at least.