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A new constitution for the Students’ Union will be voted on by students in a referendum that will take place during Week 8.
The constitution, which has to be reviewed every five years, is the main governing document of LUSU, prescribing how the organisation is structured. It also sets out the Union’s aims, bodies and powers.
The new constitution brings about a complete overhaul of the way the Union’s various bodies and committees operate. Currently, the structure is regarded by some as fairly complicated, with several separate bodies such as Social & Events Group, Activities Council and Postgraduate Board which all essentially feed in to LUSU Council, the body that sets the policy of the Union. It has been described as “a bit of a mess” by Ste Smith, the LUSU President, in a recent video.
The new structure aims to simplify the structure in order to encourage more students to participate. Most of the existing bodies are to be scrapped and will be replaced by four “forums”: the Education & Employability forum, covering areas such as the Library and feedback; the Activities & Opportunities forum, including societies and large events such as Grad Ball; the Welfare & Community forum, which covers areas such as international students and the environment; and finally the Union Development forum, including the Sugarhouse, LUSU shops and the Purple Card. Each of these will be open to any student to attend and give their opinion.
The YourVoice online system, introduced earlier this academic year, will also take on a greater role in connection with these forums for students who are unable to attend the actual events.
A committee will also be elected within each forum to lead the work it does. The committee of each forum will take on board the ideas raised, and form individual project groups which are intended to take ideas forward.
Policy made by officers will still go to Union Council, the Union’s main policy making body. The biggest change in this area is the creation of the Democratic Procedures Committee, a new body that replaces several other committees such as Elections Sub-Committee.
It is also intended that it will be easier for referenda to be called, which allows a specific question to be asked for all students to vote on.
Rosalia O’Reilly, LUSU Vice President (Equality, Welfare & Diversity) told SCAN that the reform the new constitution will bring will lead to a more “open” environment due to the fact that the new forums will be open to all to attend.
She said: “We are replacing what were very insular councils with open forums, with the hope that more students will come and engage with the decision making process of their Students’ Union.
“Students will have the opportunity to ask questions about, or raise concerns with all aspects of the Union – from welfare provision to the Sugarhouse. There will be four open forums: one for welfare, one for education, one for activities, and one for union development.
”The Union development forum will discuss LUSU financing and commercial services, which includes LUSU living, the shops, and Sugarhouse.”