AGM Motions Revealed

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All the topics of discussion submitted by Students.

Lancaster Students’ Union is scheduled to hold it’s AGM this Monday 28th October. Today the meeting was moved from George Fox to the Great Hall, which is the biggest venue on campus. The SU has also issued 750 tickets for the event, available to reserve from their website.

The SU has released the motions, submitted by students, which will be discussed at the meeting.

According to the SU’s Articles of Association “The order of debate for motions shall be as follows:
2.4.1 The proposer shall be given an opportunity to speak in favour of their motion, after which debate shall move to the amendments.
2.4.2 Once all amendments have been debated, there shall be an open speech against the motion, after which there will be an opportunity for questions and statements from the floor;
2.4.3 There shall then be a summation from the proposer before voting”

These are the motions which will be discussed:

Motion on the Climate Emergency

Proposed by Jack O’Dwyer-Henry, Seconded by Laurie Butler

Summary: On September 17th 2019, the Union Executive voted to support the petition calling for the University to declare and respond to a Climate Emergency. The Climate Emergency cannot be tackled without massive structural changes in the global economy. The University is currently failing its students by not immediately declaring and responding toa Climate Emergency and divesting from fossil fuels.

This motion seeks to officially declare a Climate Emergency, and prioritise the reduction of carbon emissions across all the Union’s work, committing to making all the Union activities net carbon-neutral by 2030. As well as this, support all nonviolent protest, boycotts, and direct action against fossil fuel companies and their financiers, especially all student-led protest in and against the University.

Motion on Saving Our Sugarhouse

Proposed by Katie Whearty, Seconded by Atree Ghosh

Summary: The Sugarhouse is profitable and popular, and over 1,150 students have signed the ‘Save Our Sugarhouse’ petition, making it this Union’s most popular petition by a landslide margin. Closure of The Sugarhouse would especially affect members with disabilities, as it is the only widely accessible nightclub in Lancaster. Equally, closure of The Sugarhouse would especially affect members of the trans and non-binary
community, as it is the only venue in Lancaster with gender-neutral toilet facilities.

The motion seeks to demand that the Trustee Board does not approve any sale of The Sugarhouse and demand that its Trustee Board reverse its decision to open negotiations about the potential sale of The Sugarhouse. It also seeks to mandate the Full-Time Officers to vote against any sale of The Sugarhouse, in any position they hold (i.e. as members of the SU Executive Committee, as Directors of any SU companies, as Trustees, or as members of the University Council).

Motion for Approval on Union Democratisation

Proposed by Oliver Robinson, Seconded by Jack O’Dwyer-Henry

Summary: In 2016, this Union abolished its own Council and abolished the positions of elected student trustees. In 2018, the University abolished the University Court, as well as other changes. The management of the University has intentionally dismantled its internal structures of democratic representation and accountability. Additionally, Students’ trust in the institutions of their University and Students’ Union is at an all-time low.

This motion seeks to demand the University re-establish the University Court; and demand the University restores non-academic staff and Lancaster City Council representation on the University Council. It also seeks to instruct and empower its Full-Time Officers to focus on doing everything in their power to achieve the reforms of the University and Students’ Union as set out in this motion.

Motion for Approval to Mandate Full and Part Time Officers to Take a Public Political Stance on the Potential Sale of The Sugarhouse

Proposed by Kyra Webber, Seconded by Mitch Boocock

Summary: The student body will vote on whether they believe a sale should go ahead in the referendum (as triggered by petition) in Week 8. As political leads, and based on the precedent of past officer teams, FTO officers are allowed to take sides in referendum campaigns. As the Sugarhouse sale is very contentious and protested by the student body (for reasons as stated in the petition), the FTOs and PTOs should publicly take a stance on the sale, being allowed to campaign for a side during the referendum. In the case of the FTOs, this would not be in their capacity as trustees of the union.

This motion seeks to enforce that the officers must take a public stance on the sale of The Sugarhouse in their capacity as a political leads by the end of Week 4.

Motion for Discussion and Approval on Amendment of the Articles of Association on Trustee Board Powers over the Chief Executive

Proposed by Bee Morgan, Seconded by Hannah Prydderch

Summary: Currently Lancaster SU’s Articles of Association are due to be reviewed in 2020/2021. The Chief Executive (CEO) is appointed by the Trustee Board as detailed in Article 61.1.9, and is the only staff member to be hired in such a way. At Lancaster SU the Trustee Board has delegated day-to-day management of the union to the CEO, and monitoring of their progress is by “reporting regularly” to the Trustees (Article 31). However, at De Montford SU, the process is different, with the President, as Board Chair, taking direct responsibility for holding the CEO to account:
“42.2 The Chair shall have line management responsibility for the Chief Executive.”

At Royal Holloway London SU, their Articles state that the President has direct authority to investigate complaints about their CEO:
“If a complaint is made about the Chief Executive, the President will be supported in their investigation by an External Trustee (usually the Vice Chair of the Board)”

In comparison to other SU’s nationally, Lancaster SU’s Articles of Association are lacking robust governance to hold the CEO of the union to account if not serving their students. This needs to be rectified immediately by following the processes as determined in Article 7. It should be explicitly stated in the Articles that the President has the authority over the CEO, so that the students (through electing the President) have the ultimate say over the way their union is run. This will also confirm the President/CEO boundary, ensuring that the CEO must take political direction from the President and support the Officers as leads of the organisation, and not the reverse.

Motion for Approval on Increased Student Input in Lancaster University Students’ Union Spending

Proposed by Hannah Prydderch, Seconded by Charlie Bradbury

Summary: In an era of increased accountability, transparency and student engagement, one area that has been overlooked is the funding allocation of the Students’ Union budgets. Some Students’ Unions have moved to participatory budgeting, where students are actively involved in allocating budgets rather than just being informed about them during the Annual General Meeting. In the past few years, budgets have fluctuated between areas with some consultation, but not full student involvement and scrutiny. Only 23% of students believe that they can influence decisions made by the SU (as of 31st July 2019).

This motion seeks to hold an annual student consultation to enable the Students’ Union to have a better idea as to what the funding priorities should be for the following year. Additioanlly, to set up a Budget Committee, with membership including but not limited to: Full- Time Officers, Part-Time Officers, JCRs/PG Board, Sports and Societies Execs. This Budget Committee would help to decide the allocation of the Students’ Union budgets for the following year and review spending periodically throughout the year to ensure they are being spent in order to benefit students.

Motion for Discussion on Union Position on Potential Industrial Action Taken by University Staff

Proposed by Bee Morgan, Seconded by George Nuttall

Summary: In Feb/March 2018, nationally universities were affected by industrial action as staff from the trade union UCU (who represent academics and senior professional services staff) walked out for 14 days over the USS pension valuation which resulted in increases in member contribution. The Lancaster 2018 UCU ballot for industrial action had the highest voter turn-out of any university in the UK.

The union believes that based on the very high turn out on the previous ballot for strikes, and the fact that UCU are not happy with the renegotiation on the same issue, it is highly likely UCU will strike over USS pensions. Industrial action mitigation for students last time was very inconsistent, and despite the work of Lancaster SU and academic Reps, students were still hit the hardest. Previously the university was not proactive in protecting students, little difference in approach has been shown so far. From an Officer perspective I am not confident that students will be sufficiently protected.

Following this motion and using the discussion at the AGM, the VP Education will use this to inform her paper she will take to Executive Committee for the final vote to support or condemn industrial action taken by Lancaster University staff.

Motion on Affordable Student Housing

Proposed by Andrew Williams, Seconded by Toby Atkinson

Summary: It is the stated intention of the Trustee Board to sell The Sugarhouse in order to “provide affordable student and key worker housing” in Lancaster. Through LUSU Living, it is a landlord of privately rented accommodation, and one of the most notoriously poor in the city.

Housing is a right and not a privilege. Affordability is essential to ensuring everybody can access higher education and not be pushed into poverty whilst studying. The University and the Union have a duty of care to students, and should not be supporting efforts to extract every drop of profit out of them.

This motion seeks to materially support efforts by students to form tenants’ unions and to apply pressure to unaccountable, third-rate student landlords through organisations such as Acorn.

Motion for all future Trustee Board Meetings to be live streamed

Proposed by Amy Merchant, Seconded by Emma Charlotte Wood

Summary: The Executive Committee previously live streamed their meeting around the petitions on Save Our Sugarhouse and the changing of the Trustee Board. This improved the Unions’ transparency and accountability on these petitions as students could see who and how the decision to send these to a referendum. Furthermore, the Union has a transparency and visibility problem that students’ do not know who sits on the board of trustee. Students would have a better understanding of the reasons for decision to enter into negotiations around selling The Sugarhouse if they could see the discussions that had happened there.

This motion asks that all future Trustee Board meetings be live streamed and then the recordings kept on the Unions website for one year so that students may under the decisions board makes.

Motion for changes to the Articles of Association, Making Referendum Results Legally Binding

Proposed by Atree Ghosh, Seconded by Bee Morgan

Summary: The articles of association are due to be reviewed 2020/2021. To make any change this review process must be brought forward and amendments follow the process as set out in article 7. Approval of the suggested amendments cited in this motion at this Annual General Meeting will satisfy clause 7.2.4 of the review process.

The Articles of Association are currently not fit for purpose. The inclusion of clause 28.3 means that students and democratically elected officers can be overruled by unelected and unaccountable trustees. The trustees should already be acting with the support of the student body anyway, but based on the previous vote to enter Sugarhouse sale negotiations and remove Grad Ball, we cannot place trust in the Board to stand by it’s students after the result of the future referendums. As students ourselves, we know and trust that students will only utilise referendums for appropriate issues. Therefore, trustees must take a result as a legally binding decision from it’s members. We believe strongly that our fellow students will make the right decision for the long term future of the Union.

Motion- Sugarhouse Student Referendum Result will be binding.

Proposed and seconded by JCR College President’s.

Summary: This is following the decision to enter negotiations to sell The Sugarhouse Nightclub, which has caused substantial student outcry. The student outcry has resulted in a petition which has triggered a Referendum on the decision to sell The Sugarhouse. However, the Trustee Board may overturn any result of the Student Referendum, which this motion endeavors to prevent.

This motion seeks that the Students’ Union should amend the article stating that the Trustee Board may overturn any decision made by a Student Referendum, in the case of the Sugarhouse Student Referendum. The amendment should allow for the result of the Sugarhouse Student Referendum to be lawful and binding, the Trustee Board being unable to overturn the outcome of the Referendum.

Motion – Approve Appointment of Student Trustees by Week 8

Proposed by Guy Watts, Seconded by Robert Ogden

Summary: The trustee board currently has a vacancy for an undergraduate student trustee but has not clearly advertised the position at the time of writing. External trustee positions are currently being recruited for, despite these positions having not been vacant as long as a student trustee position.

With important issues such as the Sugarhouse sale lacking student consultation, it is vital that students are fully represented in the board. Decisions like the Sugarhouse should not be conducted with vacancies again so it is paramount that a student is recruited quickly for future decision making.

The motion’s aim is to appoint, and fully approve through executive committee and trustee board, all student trustees positions that are currently going through recruitment. They must be appointed by Week 8.

The full list of motions and their details can be viewed here:

Ruth-Anne Walbank

My name is Ruth, and I'm the Editor of SCAN for 2019-20. I have been the Arts and Culture Editor in 2018-19, and the Deputy Arts and Culture Editor before that. I've written over 80 articles for SCAN across a variety of sections.
If you have any questions about the newspaper, feel free to message me!

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