The Last Council of 2021: The one with the Gonk

The Courier reports on the final Student Council of 2021.

Kayleigh Fraser
10th December 2021
The Gonk took centre stage for a festive Student Council meeting.

After a long and stressful year, it was time for the final Student Council of 2021. To start, Haaris welcomed all who joined both online and in person and briefly explained the procedures and codes for the meeting.

Getting off to a rather formal start, the first point of agenda was to approve the minutes of the previous meeting. Then came the approval of the steering committee report and the disciplinary and scrutiny committee report that went through with no objections.

Moving forward, President of the Student Union Abbie Hutchinson delivered the State of the Union Report (accompanied by her lovely chocolate filled gonk). Specific topics mentioned included mental health in relation to the academic year re-starting. The President admitted "Everyone is feeling a little bit tired."

Another important topic touched on was operation oak and the divide between local and student residents in Jesmond. This also included working with Newcastle City Council on their 'student' section of the website. For more information on this, please read Ruby Story-Dartford and Meg Howe's article regarding Jesmond residents 'fear'(ing) student residency.

Hutchinson also touched upon a future LGBTQ+ safe space that is in the works for the Frederick Douglas building, as well as celebrating Newcastle's wins at the Times Higher Education Awards. The university won 'Best Technician' and 'Estate team of the year'.

Ending her report, the President urged us to focus on mental health this Christmas. She cheerily said "Let's have sone hot chocolate with pals and put our wellbeing first."

Next up we heard questions from the council to sabbatical officers. George Wood (Liberation Officer) asked a question about spiking. He asked for a detailed report about the actions being taken because "on a day to day business (this is) important to students".

Welfare and Equality Officer Briana replied saying this may not be possible at the minute since there is so much action taking place to put into one detailed report. She did, however, say that students can be given access to information detailing action coming up.

Next up was Amelia Simm, the disability officer, asking for details about the proposed LGBTQ safe space. Briana replied, stating that there will be a registration process for the room but organisers are still working out the logistics.

Now for a throwback from the last meeting. Alex Walker made a point of order. A FOI request was submitted after the last meeting regarding the infamous tree. Education officer Livia Scott answered this question insisting that the university has the FOI on their radar and is processing it.

Then, it was time for motions. Firstly, our very own George Boatfield took to the podium to present motion 101. Boatfield, known widely as the Editor of the Courier, crafted a motion to change the name of his role to Student Media Officer.

He put many reasons forward for the change, specifically mentioning that since he is also in charge of NSR and NUTV, "The current job title does not necessarily reflect that". He wants to be known as a "An essential student media figure", saying that his position is equally "a support role for students".

After a quick speech by NSR Station Manager Izzy, voting opened where the motion passed with 86.67% to 13.3%. Cheers erupted from many sides of the room - the new era of the Student Media Officer was born.

At the podium next was Activities Officer Haaris with motion 302 to amend the appeals procedure. A part of this gives more time for students to appeal, as well as outlining new ways for an appeal to be launched.

Before voting, Alex Walker raised a point of order that Chair of Scrutiny was not consulted about this motion. The motion passed with 96.55 to 3.45%.

Finally, the last motion of the year was motion 303: 'Updating NUSU members and memberships document'. This involves the distinction between honorary life membership and ordinary life membership. The difference being that ordinary life members are anyone who graduates from Newcastle and honorary life members are people like sabbatical officers.

Haris stated that "Ordinary life members should not be able to join societies" as it's "Not fair on NUSU staff" and resources. The motion went to voting, where it passed by 86.21% to 13.79%.

And with that we came to the end of the meeting. Chair of Council Haaris joked that "We went through that faster than the tree" (Of which you can read about here).

Many thanks were passed around the room to everyone for getting involved with council over the course of the semester. Council will return in February 2022 where my article re-caps will be available once again.

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AUTHOR: Kayleigh Fraser
Campus Comment Sub Editor for 2021/22 and Head of News at NSR. English Literature Student heavily obsessed with politics, bath and body works and making positive change. Also slightly infatuated with iced coffee, guinea pigs, my dog and binging The Simpsons.

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