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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.”