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The LUSU Annual General Meeting failed to meet quorum tonight, meaning that the four scheduled motions could not be put to a vote by the student body. Among the tabled motions was one concerning the controversial impending marking boycott by university staff.
Although precise figures are so far unclear, it is believed the General Meeting was between 30 and 40 students short of the 200 required to make the meeting quorate. The scheduled motions will instead be brought to the next meeting of Union Council – the meeting of the elected student officers – on Thursday Week 2, Summer term. Two of the motions were brought forward by VP (Education) Joe O’Neill, namely the aforementioned motion on “Continued support for industrial action,” and a motion on zero hours contracts. A further two motions were concerning the cost of living for students, and the university archives.
VP (Union Development) Laurence Pullan told SCAN that he was disappointed by the failure to meet the amount of students required to make the meeting quorate. “It’s always disappointing, there was some good stuff on the agenda,” Pullan said. “We’ve tried our best and to be honest there’s only so much six officers can do; we don’t have some of the grassroots outreach that other students do. We appreciate that some people have managed to make it and we appreciate the apologies which have been sent to us. It’s just a shame that students don’t want to engage in the motions that have been submitted, especially because they are relevant (like the marking boycott and the cost of living).”
Some criticism has been levelled at the six Full Time Officers for the failure to meet quorum, with some students arguing that LUSU did not do enough to spread the message that the meeting was taking place; others have suggested that Week 10 was a poorly chosen time to hold a general meeting, because many students have deadlines at this point in the term.
In response to the criticism, Pullan said that “there’s been some quite distinguished ex-officers and distinguished students that have taken the stance that this is poor form by the Union. Well it’s not good that we haven’t reached quorum but I would encourage others to help promote the message and promote general meetings. As six people, there’s only a certain average that we can get, and posters only have so much of an outreach too.”
While the inability to reach quorum meant several points were dropped from the meeting agenda, some areas were discussed, including the upcoming library refurbishment and the Full Time Officers’ information and questions.
After the meeting, a discussion took place regarding the impending marking boycott by members of University and College Union (UCU). The boycott will begin on Monday Week 2, Summer term. As part of the discussion, Lancaster staff and UCU members Joe Thornberry and Dr. Johann Unger gave information about the boycott and took questions from students. Students questioned both the aims of the boycott and the way in which LUSU was informing students about it. Students were encouraged by the LUSU officers to email the University Vice Chancellor, Professor Mark E. Smith, to raise their concern at the breakdown in negotiations between the UCU and the University and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA), and that more information can be gained by emailing one of the Full Time Officers.