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The first Student Jury of this academic year was held earlier this week to talk through and discuss ideas raised by students through the online ideas system “Student Voice”.
Ideas submitted through “Student Voice” can be regarding the community, LUSU or even the University. These are then sorted through by the Executive Committee which includes the FTOs (Full-Time Officers) and PTOs (Part-Time Officers) who work out who the idea would fall under, and for noncontroversial issues, see it implemented. For issues the Executive Committee think are controversial, the Student Jury comes in. If the Executive Committee is unable to come to a decision on one of the ideas proposed then that idea is taken forward to the Jury of randomly selected students for a final decision to be made.
When the ideas reach the Student jury, they discuss any positive the idea could have and how it could cogently make sense; as well as the way it could have the maximum effect on students. ‘Evidence’ submitted by the students who suggested the idea is then looked at along with packs of information regarding that subject. Any ideas passed through the Student Jury may not remain the same as when they entered it as they are allowed to make slight alterations to the idea as well as either rejecting it outright or approving it. If a stalemate is reached where a final decision cannot be decided on then this idea might be passed onto an all-student vote.
One of the topics covered at the Jury was to discuss the ways in which the Union could alter its approach to sustainability. In order to encourage the union to do more for the environment, one student suggested through Student Voice that the charge for plastic bags within Central should be increased and that paper coffee cups could be banned across campus.
The Jury decided not to pursue the higher charge for plastic carrier bags, instead running schemes to set-up plastic bag or recycling swap-points. On the coffee cup ban suggestion, it was selected that a better alternative would be to perhaps try and promote reusable “keep cups” which may be more appealing to students along with a deposit scheme and discounts. The final stance on sustainability was for the union to work with the University to provide more recycling points around campus ran in conjunction with recycling awareness campaigns. To follow this up, the idea will be further discussed at the next Union Executive on the 23rd of November in order to decide on the best way to implement these ideas.
The second topic deliberated over at the Jury was the scope to which LUSU should participate in political campaigning. The student who submitted the idea posited that the union should limit its campaigns to only higher education and cost of living issues, and the Jury also was able to look at the current legal restrictions that the union is held to. As LUSU is recognised as a charity, it already abides by guidelines which restrict the Union to focus on issues which are relevant to students. After conversing, the Jury decided to reject this idea. The reasoning behind this decision was that if LUSU was restricted on what it could campaign on (such as sustainability or mental health) then the Union which is meant to represent us as students would stop being relevant to a great proportion of students. Also, with the Student Jury being a new addition which gives the students more say on what they want LUSU to work on as any issues raised are presented to the Jury for rejection or approval.
Sophie Tarif, VP Union Development, had this to say on why the Student Jury is so important:
“Having the Student Jury system in place means that students can make the big decisions about the Union’s policy and activity. Previously, decisions like these were made in Council, where you had to be an Officer in order to vote – this allows all and any students to engage with student politics and have their say.”
If you’re interested in seeing how these ideas will be implemented and following any updates to these issues, VP of Union Development, Sophie Tarif, writes a Chair’s blog which is updated bi-weekly: http://lusu.co.uk/vp-union-development