Student Council, Vol.1: passed motions with no commotion

Here's your rundown of the first Student Council of the academic year.

Sam Norman
26th October 2023
Image source: Laura Linceviciute, NUSU.
Chair of Council George Wood opened the meeting introducing the significance of the Student Union Council and their role for the student body. This was followed and echoed with new Newcastle University Students' Union's (NUSU) new Chief Executive Lindsey Lockey, expressing her excitement to return to NUSU and be in the role.

The minutes of the previous meeting passed as the first order with no objections evading the decision. Chirag Kumar, NUSU's Postgraduate Officer, spoke on behalf of two motions. Both were constitutional motions that required 2/3 of the vote in order to pass. Chirag defined the first motion that would change the voting systems - but no in relation to the summer elections - as an "aim to ease timing to get through the elections really quickly." The second, concerned vacant roles and the filling of these by Student Council. Both motions passed with the former with 92.3% and the latter 85.7%.

Eight vacant councillor positions were available with seven members selected to become permanent voting members. Each nominee expressed a desire to extend their knowledge in student voice. Two liberation officer positions were available, however, both went without nominations.
The Scrutiny, Steering and Disciplinary meeting report were all passed without objections.

NUSU President Shah Yaseen Ali gave the State of the Union report reflecting on the current progress of NUSU's Sabbatical Officers. He expressed he is looking at legal support for students, as well as exploring ways for students to "hold their landlords to account." The President also declared he is looking into creating a scheme for emergecy food vouchers.
The President cotninued giving brief insight into the progress of fellow Sabbatical Officers. "Alex, Activities Officer, is preparing for the Festival of Culture;" "Gabbi, Student Media Officer, has launched the first edition of The Courier and is preparing the second;" "Chirag, Postgraduate Officer, is working with schools on assessment feedback;" "Lucy, Welfare Officer, is decorating the LGBTQIA+ safe space as well as chairing campaign development" and "Kimiko, Athletic Union Officer, is completing group training." .

Following, all Sabbatical Officers were invited to accept any questions from members. Due to no objections before the Student Council meeting, all officer reports and executive comittee minutes were passed.

Chriag then presented a business motion that had passed with no objection prior to the Council. The motion covered the steering comittee, and the review of overlapping policies.

The Chair then moved to Constitutional Motions. Welfare Officer Lucy Leeds' motion aiming to firmly state NUSU as a "victim/survivor centred organisation" passed with 93.55%. Lucy said the motion would help "survivors lead in their own journey.".

Jonathan Lee, current BAME Officer, introduced his motion to rename BAME Officer to Ethinic Diversity Officer. He claimed the motion would align with the "approach adopted by the government and other sectors in the UK" as well as the important sentiment ethnic minorities have "expressed a dislike to this term." The motion passed with 93.34%.

Gabbi de Boer, current Student Media Officer (SMO), proposed her motion for updates to the current Student Media Constitution. Gabbi stated this would allow Student Media to hold their own AGMs and EGMs, "giving more power back to Student Media." The SMOs motion passed with 93.75%.
Postgraduate Officer, Chirag, passed a motion with a 96.77% acceptance to introduce mediation as an option in complaint's procedured. Chirag outlined mediation is often the best option to solve disputes, but "only to be used when all groups are in agreement.". Chirag noted this would not be used in cases of gross misconduct.

A Constitutional Motion was introduced by President Yaseen who wanted to dissolve the Student Life committee, in favour of a mandate on the President to work with Reslife and other organisations. Yaseen's motion passed with 90.63%.

The last Constitutional Motion was introduced by Disability Officer Leo David, who worked with other Liberation Officers to update the job description of the role. Leo stated the old descriptions were "hard to read" as well as "included things we don't really do anymore." Leo's motion passed with 93.75%.

The President proposed an ordinary motion that would mandate Sabbatical Officers to conduct a cross-campus poll on potential UCU industrial action. The Welfare and Student Media Officer reiterated their support, as Yaseen stated "campus wide ballots are the best way to gage opinion" and the sabbs can "use results to lobby the University and show them what students think." This motion passed with 93.33%.

Several committee positions were filled at the council, including Finance and Risk, Disciplinary, Scrutiny and Welfare. In the closing statements for student notices, President Yaseen informed his recruitment for a Student Advisory Board regarding the changes to King's Gate. NUSU Representative Project Intern also reiterated feedback on NUSU's current survey, bringing the first Student Council of the 23/24 academic year to a close!

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AUTHOR: Sam Norman
Head of Current Affairs 23/24. Campus Comment Sub-editor 22/23. BA English Language and Literature Student.

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