EWD committees abolished by student officers

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Equality, Welfare and Diversity (EWD) Council voted to abolish all of four of its subcommittees in a bid to remodel the current system and shift the emphasis to a more campaigning focus.

The motion, which was proposed by Vice President (Equality, Welfare and Diversity), Pete Macmillan, is aimed to create a more active EWD by prioritising campaigning and communication with students. During the proposal to the council, Macmillan stated that he wanted to make EWD more interactive with the wider student body and not solely within the subcommittees.

In his presentation to EWD Council Macmillan said: “It should be about people going out and finding out about what the student issues are and not a place where students are forced to meet on a regular basis.”

It was clear that Macmillan wanted to change the mentality behind the subcommittees. “Currently, the function of the role is to fill a seat on a subcommittee. You [the subcommittees] don’t vote on anything. That is was EWD council is for. Some officers think they can just attend the meeting and then that’s job done.”

The motion would enforce the immediate abolishment of Women’s Campaign Committee, Student’s Rights and Welfare Committee, Equality and Inclusion Committee and Internationalisation and Diversity Committee with the intension that this time would be reallocated towards creating and implementing campaigns.

Several officers on EWD Council expressed their uncertainty about the motion. Matt Saint, Vice President (Equality, Diversity and Welfare) elect, claimed that he now felt “uncomfortable” about the proposed change, despite having seconded the motion. Also, many argued that the abolishment of the subcommittee would have a negative effect on minority groups who will consequently lose their “safe haven” where sensitive issues from the student body could be discussed.

Macmillan was quick to argue against this. “I think it’s nonsensical to say that these subcommittees were a safe haven for people to come to and discuss their problems because for over a year now there has not been any sensitive issues which has been brought to any single one of these meetings. If there are any sensitive issues then they should be brought to the Vice President (Equality, Welfare and Diversity).”

Saint, in EWD council, responded by expressing his concerns about the social implications. “I worry about their being a lack of Women’s Committee as sometimes you just need a space where there is like minded people and not necessarily just to run campaigns”.

After much debate, Macmillan proposed that there be a secret ballot but a majority voted against this. EWD council was also offered the chance to propose any amendments to the motion. It was then voted that an amendment would be added to schedule a review of the new EWD format in Michaelmas term in the next academic year.

The motion was voted for by a two-third majority and will be taken to Union Council in Week Five of Summer term.

LUSU President, Robbie Pickles, who was in full support of the motion, was asked about whether he thought this was the right step for LUSU. “I’m really please that the EWD Council have chosen, via a two third majority, to rapidly modernise the work that they do in line with LUSU’s strategic plan. I think to many officers have felt restricted by the current committee structure which doesn’t harbour a good working environment or represent students. Hopefully, now, we can be more responsive to the needs of others.”

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  1. “I?m really please[d] that the EWD Council have chosen, via a two third majority, to rapidly modernise the work that they do in line with LUSU?s strategic plan.”

    What a vapid argument. Just another case of meaningless buzz words being used to justify a crap change to the student union, driven through by sabbs who have no idea what they are talking about and done so without any wider student consultation.

    It’s such a shame. LUSU used to be known in so many other student unions for its activism. We had an active campaigning student union that achieved tangible results – it convinced the uni to set up self defence classes for women; set up a Women’s Bus; established student parent/carer swap shops; went on reclaim the night marches; lobbied the uni for better nighttime lighting on campus, and ran Vagina Monologues.

    Now we have a student union which is so out of touch with the notion of equality and fostering a comfortable environments for its students that it invites Miss England to come to the union club and take photos of women. A Union where officers can’t even do one SCAN interview without harping on about this mystical ‘Strategic Plan’ that students couldn’t care less about.

    Well done LUSU.

  2. In addition to what Aidan has said above; it should be noted that whilst this two-third majority did pass the motion through council…that it was only after a lot of nudging from the FTOs and a guarentee that that it would be under review that it did.
    The article does mention a debate, however as an Officer who was in the room at the time (and expressed concern), I certainly don’t feel that it captured the unease that the EWD teams had with the move or the rather sizable number of JCR Officers and Cross-Campus Officers who argued against the motion in comparison to a small number of FTOs who pushed it through.
    An interview with a few non-sabbs after the meeting would probably have had very different quotes to the ones given here.

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