Union Council: How do we fix it?
One of my manifesto pledges emphasised the importance and accessibility of Union Council to the Student population. For many years now we have seen very similar problems with Council and as President I don’t think there has been a single Council where many students have left feeling frustrated with process. We have problems with attendance, some Councillors feel it is too boring, others feel it isn’t particularly relevant to them, and others feel it spends too much time on bureaucracy and not enough time on thoughtful debate.
These are all questions I would very much like to address before leaving my term of office. I’d like to see a Council next year that is fundamentally democratic, a Council that is engaging, exciting and relevant to the student body. At the last Union Council, the Sabbaticals were mandated to work with the incoming Sabbaticals on coming up with a proposal for the future Union Council.
So where do we start? Some of you may be wondering, what an earth even is Union Council and its purpose? That is one of the first problems we find in the Union, that many students cannot relate to it or understand what Council actually is. Click here to find out more about Council in its current form and what the constitution states.
I read what Council currently is and to summate, i believe Council’s role is one of policy creation and scrutiny. Council is the major opportunity for mass Union debate, for policy to be created and for any officers, not just Sabbaticals, to be held to account.
At the previous Union Council, policy was passed that changed the future structure of Union Council to the following:
The membership to be:
(a) Sabbatical Officers
(b) Trustees with Portfolio
(c) Student Leaders
(d) A number of student councillors chosen to reflect the makeup of the student body based on intrinsic characteristics such as mode and level of study.
The extra make up of Student Councillors are yet to be decided and finalised. In order for this group of Councillors to be reflective of the student body, it is important that we analyse the composition of the student body at this University very carefully.
What are the key Questions we should be asking ourselves when evaluating Union Council?
- How should we go about creating policy? To see how this is currently done, click here.
- How should we hold our Sabbaticals and any other offices to account?
- What should the make-up of Council be? As well as Sabbaticals, Student Leaders and trustees with Portfolio, how should we determine who makes up the other half of the Council?
- How could we improve Council in general? Is the room right, timings, how often it is held, how the voting system works, how it is advertised and made accessible, how could we get Councillors to understand their role better?
The current Executive team and incoming Sabbaticals would welcome all comments and suggestions to help them with their proposals. We very much see this as an on-going project that will lead into the Summer time.
Please get commenting and give us your thoughts,