Transparent black marks…?

Dear all,

I have made a proposal to Council regarding the decision to deem several officers resigned at Council last week: Aaron Bali (Environment & Ethics Officer) Phillip Marshall (Mature Students Officer) and Robin Barker (Nursing and Midwifery Officer)

The proposal:

“Dear Council,

As you are all aware, the constitution currently requires the Union to record the attendance of Union officers at Council and Standing Committee meetings in order to check whether they have submitted apologies if absent. Standing Order 10 – Discipline & Recall of Officers states that:

“5.2   Non-attendance of Union officers at Union Council and other Standing Committees will be recorded in the minutes of that committee. Any Officer who fails to give apologies for a duly called meeting will receive a `black mark’. If an Officer fails to give apologies for non-attendance at three meetings, they will be deemed to have resigned from office. Should this occur for a Sabbatical Officer, their case will be referred to the disciplinary Committee for consideration.”

There is no clear process for how this should happen; the chairperson has traditionally dealt with it.  At the last Union Council James Miles, Chairperson, announced that 3 Union Officers had broken this “black mark” rule and therefore were now deemed to have resigned from office.

This is the first time the Union has actually implemented this rule for some time.  It was considered at the end of last year, but deferred until a system of notifying officers affected by it was in place.  The extract from the minutes ( ) is:

70        Absent without apologies – Phoebe Gardiner informed members that an email had been sent to any member who had not sent their apologies for 3 Union committees, informing them they were deemed to have resigned. Phoebe reminded members that at every meeting, she had reminded of the constitution and the implications for not sending apologies to any Union committee meeting. After discussion, Union Council agreed that an improved system should be implemented to support members and that, on this occasion members will not be deemed to have resigned.

After this, it is my opinion that we still do not have a good enough system in place and therefore we are in exactly the same position as the end of last year. It is also my view that this rule is not working for us in the way it was intended and indeed it is one which catches out otherwise impressive officers. I have come to this decision based on this exact same situation happening at the end of last year at Council and the fact that since then nothing has been changed or reviewed to offer a support system for this rule.

I am contacting you all to ask you to support the following:

  1. To re-instate the three officers who were deemed to have resigned at Council on Monday, so they can carry on with fulfilling their portfolio.
  2. To instruct Constitution Committee to review the system for penalising non-attendance at meetings and either amend the system or ensure that there are procedures in place to support it. That this new proposal must be submitted to Council by Easter 2011.
  3. To continue to record absences and therefore black marks: if the system stays the same we will then be able to retrospectively apply the removals.

This is a proposal that is coming from me as the President and not from the Chair of Council.

Could you please reply with a simple response of “I agree” or “I disagree to the chair of Council –

Please could you respond by 5 p.m. on Friday. You may also want to add some comments to the email if you have any. We will then ratify the decision at the next council meeting.” – End of proposal

I have come to the decision to make this proposal to Council based on this exact same situation happening at the end of last year at Council. Since that agreement nothing has been changed or reviewed to offer a support system for this rule. A major example of  a failure in the system is that the officers had not been told until arriving at Council. Clearly there is still a problem with the system not matching our aspirations and the incident in Council last week has highlighted that, however I want to personally make sure that this time the issue will be dealt with and that the promise of a supported system is delivered on.

Councillors have been consulted via e-mail and are giving their responses to the Chair of Council over the coming days.

Kind regards,


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