Student Council, Vol.2: NUS asks for student voice and 100% passed rejoice

Hear all the events from the second Student Council of the 23/24 academic year!

Sam Norman
20th November 2023
Image Credit: wp paarz gavel flickr
Once again, Chair of Council George Wood opened the student council meeting, noting only motion and the National Union of Students (NUS) Big Conversation Activities Officer Alex would be leading.

The council began with the minutes of previous committee meetings passing, with no objections stated beforehand. Following, the final open council place was filled by PhD student Mukilan who won the vote for the space with 61.29%.

There were once again no nominations to fill the student parent's, guardians and carers officer role or marginalised gender officer.

The steering committee report, as well as the scrutiny committee and disciplinary report all passed with no objections.

President of Newcastle University Student Union (NUSU) Yaseen gave the State of the Union report, which he defined as a "key highlight of what the Sabbatical Officers have been doing." Yaseen stated he had met with Local MPs to discuss the cost of living crisis, was working to hold landlords accountable and meeting with law firms to secure legal support.

The President highlighted the Education Officer Lulu's work, with her ongoing meeting with Heads of Schools and Deans for assessment feedback, as well as her campaigning to maintain the Cost of Living Crisis PECs.

Postgraduate Officer Chriag's creation of the Northeast PG catchup team with sabs and officers from the five universities in the North East.

Welfare and Equality Officer Lucy's lobbying for affordable student housing was addressed, as well as her opening of the LGBT+ safe space in the Frederick Douglas Centre.

Yaseen stated Kimiko, the Athletic Union officer had been planning the AU ball whilst also engaging with different sporting clubs and attending events.

Activities Officer Alex's engagement in the sustainability campaign, through the evening wear swap shop was stated in the report. Yaseen also confirmed the early planning stages of the Grad Summer Ball, as well as the Festival of Culture expected to start in December.

Finally, the President discussed the work of Student Media Officer Gabbi de Boer releasing the first issues of The Courier and the recording of new shoes and podcasts with Newcastle Student Radio. Gabbi had also been lobbying the University to keep Cost of Living PECs alongside Lulu.

The State of the Union report passed with no objections.

The floor was then opened for any questions to the Sabbatical Officers, where a student enquired about the officer's backing of a ceasefire in the Israel and Palestine Conflict, and what they are doing in addressing the situation.

Activities Officer Alex answered the question, stating the sabs were firm in their "support for students." She reiterated they are in constant conversation with students and "students are open to submit motions for what support and what they wish sabs to recognise."

Following, all officer reports and executive committee minutes passed as a block.

Lulu affirmed the Postgraduate Officer is an important part of the community and should be there to represent

The first and only motion was then introduced where Chirag campaigned to change the membership of the NUSU Education Executive Committee. Chirag stated according to the constitution the Postgraduate officer does not sit on the committee but has done so for the past few years, therefore this should be officialised. The second part of the motion also addressed the number of members in the Education Executive Committee, with Chirag stating the current 58 reps is substantial. Lulu seconded the motions, affirming the Postgraduate Officer is an important part of the community and should be there to represent. A student supported the motion, stating it would be nice for PGR and PGTS to get a more recognised voice in the union.

The motion passed with 100%, thus changing the process for electing anyone from council to Education Exec.

One of the two places on scrutiny was filled, as well as two of the eight places on the disciplinary committee. Welfare Officer Lucy filled three of seven spaces on the Welfare, Campaigns and Liberation Executive Committee. Lucy affirmed the committee is a good insight into the work of the Union and Nightline but also a good way to receive support for what students want to work on.

Any students wishing to fill the remaining spaces should attend 7 December Student Council.

To close Council, Activities Officer, Alex led the NUS Big Conversation centred on the student experience and what students would like to see improve not just at Newcastle, but nationally.

Alex briefly discussed NUS as a "force for radical change since 1922," stating they "believe education should be accessible for all."

Attendees of the Council were asked to rate how happy they are being a student with the most common rating of 8, and the lowest score received being four. Students expressed concerns about housing, money stress and disability awareness for affecting their experience negatively.

Disability Officer Leo also stated often "the highest level of management are incredibly out of touch with the student body."

Ethincy Diversity Officer Jonathan acknowledged the work of NUSU, stating the Student Union is providing support for many of the raised concerns at the Council.

Alex then asked students to define their ideal student utopia, getting multiple responses from those attending. Responses ranged "nobody should be rejected from the university therapy;" "campus being a safe space;" "more financial aid for working-class students, and issues of classism to be raised on campus;" "getting marks back on time;" "more diverse food options" and "the creation of a class liberation officer."

Amongst the student responses, Lucy confirmed NUS usage for "lobbying the government in Parliament" and how important it is to use it as an asset.

Responses were collected and attendees will be hoping this shapes a future NUSU and NUS response to student issues.

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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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