Standing Committee Review – 3 December 2012 Union Council (1213P4)
1. In April 2011 Union Council mandated the VP Communications to lead a review of the standing committee structure – http://blogs.susu.org/policy/2012/04/23/standing-committee-structure-review/#content
2. The VP Communications hosted open consultation session in August, which noted the current issues with standing committees::
2.1. That there are currently too many standing committees causing accountability problems.
2.2. A lack of purpose and boundaries in the committee structure.
2.3. Limited discussion that is too operational, not strategic or ideological.
3. The open consultation session explored best practice from other Students’ Unions around the country, with our students noting exciting possibilities to explore, including:
3.1. Merit to creating an extra layer in our structure.
3.2. The possibility of zoning.
3.3. A distinction between policy and operational functions.
4. A further open consultation session hosted in September, which noted the importance of grouping our activities within SUSU based on zones, as well as the importance of linking accountability and scrutiny into any standing committee structure.
5. The importance of accountability, scrutiny and reporting of our student leaders, as well as our Sabbaticals.
6. There are a number of student groups, committees, and activities which are currently unrecognised in our decision making structure.
7. The following extracts from The Union Plan to 2015:
Vision: To be the informed and legitimate voice of our members.
Values: Representative; Student Led; Transparent.
4.2. Informing students of significant change within SUSU but also on wider issues that affect them
1. Our standing committee structure should support the different purposes of different committees in being activity based and/or in driving policy.
2. For the sake of accountability and reporting to council, a functioning structure needs a succinct number of standing committees. This number will always be far lower than the number of activities that SUSU supports and develops, therefore zoning is necessary.
3. The values of SUSU should be reflected across the standing committee structure.
4. Any major changes to the decision making structure of SUSU should not be implemented during an academic year.
5. That changes to our standing committee structure and associated changes to Sabbatical and Student Leader roles should be fully informed by the voice of our members, and so should wholly fulfil the criteria in the extracts of The Union Plan in Union Notes (7).
Union Further Believes
1. A disharmony between our decision making structure and Sabbatical Officer or Student Leader Roles would be detrimental to the effectiveness of SUSU.
2. Any changes to the roles of officers should take place before those respective elections are held.
3. That the changes currently proposed to Sabbatical and Student Leader roles are not as wholly informed by the voice of our members as they might be, and so do not wholly fulfil the criteria in the extracts of The Union Plan in Union Notes (7).
4. That we should, as a consequence of Union Further Believes (3), consult again and more widely on changes to Sabbatical and Student Leader roles.
1. To dissolve the current standing committees as of 1 July 2012 and replace them with 3 Policy Zones and 5 Activity Zones as follows:
To set and reflect the culture, values, and behaviours of SUSU. They create policy, which affects all the activity zones of SUSU.
‘Sustainability’ Zone should develop the following areas:
- Students’ wellbeing
- Ethical and environmental issues
- Equality issues
- Employability of our members
- Political, social awareness and campaign societies
‘Student Communities’ Zone should develop the following areas:
- International students
- Post Graduate students
- Diversity issues
- JCRs support
- Support for Sites
- Development of Liberations
- International and cultural societies
‘Democracy’ Zone should develop the following areas:
- Student Group principles and affiliations
To develop activity within SUSU. They make real and direct change within their own areas, and rely on policy set from the central zones to enact the values of SUSU.
‘Education’ Zone should develop the following areas:
- Faculty representation systems
- National Policy issues
- University wide educational policy issues
- Departmental Societies
‘Student Life’ Zone should develop the following areas:
- Peer to Peer groups, including Nightline
- Housing issues
- Student Financial Support
- Faith Societies
‘Engagement’ Zone should develop the following areas:
- Enterprise activity
- Social Enterprise activity
- Community Action and volunteering
- External Communities
- Enterprise societies
‘Creative Industries’ Zone should develop the following areas:
- Union Films
- Performing Arts
- SUSU Media Departments
- Music, Arts and Media Societies
‘Sports Development’ Zone should develop the following areas:
- Athletic Union
- Developing and increasing Participation in sport
- Sports Societies
2. Pending further consultation, to adjust the relevant Sabbatical Officer Roles as of 1 July 2012 to align with the proposed decision making structure of SUSU. Notably:
2.1. Adjusting the role of VP Academic Affairs to include support for Departmental Societies. Adjusting the name of ‘Vice President Academic Affairs’ to Vice President Education’.
2.2. Adjusting the role of Vice President Communications to support and lead the ‘Democracy’ and ‘Creative Industries’ Zones. To include support for Union Films, Performing Arts, Music, Arts and Media Societies and Student Group principles and affiliations. Omitting responsibility for the organisation of Freshers’ Week and the responsibility to lead on Union Communications. Adjusting the name of the ‘Vice President Communications’ to ‘Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries’.
2.3. Adjusting the role of Vice President Sports Development to include support for Sports Societies.
2.4. Adjusting the role of Vice President Student Engagement to include support of Social Enterprise activity, Enterprise societies and External Communities. Omitting responsibility for support of Union Films, support of Performing Arts, JCRs support and overall responsibility of societies. They will also spearhead widening participation in all our activities – from across the student population at the University of Southampton, the towns and cities local to our sites, nationally and internationally – and communicating our activities and successes to said audience. The Vice President Student Engagement should also be responsible for the Organisation of Freshers’ Week, the widening of engagement across SUSU and leading on Union Communications. Adjusting the name of the ‘Vice President Student Engagement’ to ‘Vice President Engagement’.
2.5. Adjusting the role of Vice President Welfare and Communities to support and lead the ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Student Life’ Zones. To include overall responsibility for Students’ wellbeing, Employability of our members, and Faith Societies. Omitting responsibility for External Communities, International students, Post Graduate students, and Diversity issues. Adjusting the name of ‘Vice President Welfare and Communities’ to ‘Vice President Welfare’.
2.6. Adjusting the role of Vice President Winchester and Sites to include support of International students, Post Graduate students, Diversity issues, JCRs support, and International and cultural societies. Adjusting the name of ‘Vice President Winchester and Sites’ to ‘Vice President Student Communities’.
2.7 To adjust the names of the ‘Vice President Communications’ to ‘Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries’, and ‘Vice President Student Engagement’ to ‘Vice President Engagement’.
3. Pending further consultation, to adjust the relevant Student Leader Roles as of 1 July 2012 to align with the proposed decision making structure of SUSU. Notably:
3.1. Dissolving the ‘Sport and Health’ Officer Role and in its place creating a ‘Wellbeing’ Officer to sit within the ‘Sustainability’ Zone and a ‘Participation’ Officer to sit within the ‘Sports Development’ Zone.
3.2. Adjusting the role of the ‘Societies’ Officer to fit the remit of leading on Student Group principles and affiliations.
4. Pending further consultation, to set the membership of the Zones as the relevant Sabbatical as chair, and all relevant Student Leaders, society reps and 2 Union Councillors as voting members. Each Zone shall have the propensity to create Voluntary Officers within their own by-laws.
1. Constitution Committee to bring back to Union Council on 4 February 2013 the detailed changes required to the Union Standing Orders to create these changes to Standing Committees, Sabbatical Officers and Student Leaders.
2. Vice President Communications to hold further open consultation and review sessions on the development of Sabbatical and Student Leader roles, together with a system of accountability and scrutiny that can be linked into the new decision making structure.
3. Elections Committee to advertise and promote all changes to the Sabbatical Officers and Student Leaders in adequate time for the Spring Elections 2013.