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The Students’ Union are to hold the first general meeting of the academic year on Thursday of Week 8, covering topics such as the college review, the cost of living and the plans to increase postgraduate and international students’ tuition fees. The general meeting is the highest decision making forum in the Students’ Union, so LUSU believe this will be an opportunity to the wider student body to engage with and impact upon student politics.
The meeting will see motions put forward regarding the cost of living, a campaign LUSU have been pushing in recent weeks, and the recently revealed University plans to raise tuition fees for postgraduate and international students. LUSU VP (Education) Damon Fairley told SCAN that the meeting would be an important opportunity for students to drive the direction of the Union on key issues.
He said, “a general meeting is the highest policy making body of the Student’s Union; it overrules decisions of LUSU Council and takes precedence over those decisions, so the decisions students actually make in this meeting about various things on the agenda essentially set policy for the Students’ Union which we can’t ignore. We know there are going to be motions on the cost of living, fees, and a discussion around the colleges review, so the feedback people give us on those things is really important.”
Fairley stressed that not only is it a policy making forum, but it is also an opportunity for students to hold their Union to account on the issues which matter to them. “It is worth pointing out that, at a general meeting, anyone who is a member of LUSU can attend. Any full members can vote. It’s a way for students to tell the Students’ Union what they think and hold all officers to account, because there is a section where they can question Full-Time Officers as well, and ask what we are doing on certain things.”
Moreover, he commented that the primary objective of the meeting is to make LUSU aware of students’ feelings towards issues, and thus influence the direction the Union takes on trying to address these issues. He made it clear that the Union will make the concerns raised in the GM as a “priority” in the direction of the Union’s policies on these topics thereafter. “For example the colleges review, when we bring forward a discussion around that, comments students make in that will be compiling and they will actually feed into the review itself.” Fairley continued, “it will say ‘students have said this’ and there will be an immediate impact from there. And the motions of cost of livings and fees, if they pass at the GM that is then official policy by the students’ union.”
“If the quorate of the general meeting, more than 200 students, vote in favour of a motion, that gives us a really strong footing to go to the University and say this is what our membership believes. We can say, ‘this is how we know they believe it, because they voted on policy for it’, so it gives us more tools to argue on behalf of students with. That’s why it’s important that people come, because obviously to pass anything at a general meeting we need at least 200 people in the room, and at least 200 hundred need to vote in favour for that.”
This will not be the only opportunity for student democratic engagement in Week 8, as all week students will be running for College JCR positions, Cross-Campus Officer positions and NUS delegate candidacies. Fairley said it would be beneficial for those hoping to get involved in their JCRs to go down and see the students’ democratic engagement and how big student issues are being addressed.
Furthermore, Fairley stated, “I think it’s important people get involved in the JCR election process because, as everyone knows as members of colleges, the JCR execs for each college basically organise the student experience for that college. Whether it’s freshers week, summer extrav, all your socials throughout the term. All these sort of things are organised by the JCR, but equally they lead welfare campaigns in the college, they represent the students of the college, the staff of the college and the University. They play a crucial function in LUSU in terms of feeding back to us what that particular college wants.”
College JCR roles and not the only positions up for grabs, as students will also be able to decide who represents them as Cross-Campus Officers. “There’s a range of Cross-Campus officer positions, from specific portfolios such as democracy and activities, and we also have twelve faculty representatives who are crucial in terms of representing students in each of those faculties. We also have LUSU councillors whose primary function is to engage students with LUSU council which is a really important policy making body. There’s quite a variety of roles people can run for.”
The LUSU General Meeting will take place on Thursday of Week 8. JCR election results will be announced on Friday of Week 8, which SCAN will be covering through twitter @SCANLU.