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In Week Eight, a referendum will be held in addition to by-elections for a number of JCR and CCO positions. These will open due to many of the current officers either graduating or giving up their posts due to a lack of time. The two questions which are addressed in the referendum concern whether the constitution should be altered to allow student trustees to hold other office positions in LUSU, as well as whether the new strategic plan should be approved.
In the current constitution, the wording for the section under question is “student trustees may hold no other office or staff position”, and the change in the constitution will see the removal of certain words to change the section to “student trustees may hold no staff position”.
According to Elections Officer Emily Blanchard, the reasons for the expected change of the constitution is that LUSU officers are often the most knowledgeable people regarding the inner-workings of the Union and are therefore well-suited for holding the position of a trustee, as opposed to someone who has less of experience with LUSU. She also did not believe that a conflict of interest would arise if a student was allowed to hold both positions at the same time.
Ash Samaan, a fresher from County College said: “It’s hard to make a decision like this when you don’t know what the trustees do. I wish these things were more advertised somewhere”. Nevertheless, the new strategic plan aims to tackle such concerns, as one of its promises is that LUSU is going to be “clearer about who we are, what we do, what we stand for and why.”
When asked about the plan, LUSU President Robbie Pickles said: “We believe our plan will have positive impacts both for us and the wider community in which we live and that being environmentally responsible will underpin what we do.”
The strategic plan had to be updated early due to the increase in student fees, and it includes several ambitious new initiatives such as the proposal for a new LUSU building, which will “provide a vibrant space for students to meet other students”. As students James Flynn and Lucie Milner say: “We think the idea for a new Students’ Union building is fantastic, especially given that the current LUSU bunker is tucked away under a staircase and tricky to find.”
Another major point of the plan is to make sure that all the “must haves of university life” are included in the university package. This is a welcome move as according to one student, Matilda Blick: “It is really unfair for the university to keep charging you for extra things such as college membership or the [philosophy] course booklet after you’ve already paid your tuition fees.”
According to the LUSU Vice President (Finance, Events, Democracy and Societies), Matt Windsor, a minimum of 1200 students need to vote for the referendum to pass. However Blanchard, whose role as Elections Officer has resulted in the highest election turn out for the FTO positions in recent years has said that she expects at least 1500 people to vote this time.
The Students’ Union by-elections will coincide with the vote on the referendum. Blanchard has articulated that almost 20 Cross Campus Officer positions will open, ranging from media officers to equality and diversity officers.