Want A Better Student Life? A Better SUSU? Then Run For A Union Council Position

Union Council has changed and it is time to elect its new membership. I’m writing this to explain a bit more about what Union Council is, what positions are available, and how to join.

What is Union Council?

Union Council is one of the highest decision making bodies within SUSU. That means to a large extent what it says goes.

It has two main roles.

It represents the 24,000 students at the University of Southampton by making policy, approving/ rejecting ideas for change and taking stands on issues with the purpose of making students’ lives better. Some of the decisions taken by council are fairly simply such as approving how the SUSU budget will be spent or giving support to union campaigns, but some are more controversial. For example this year Union Council had to make a choice as to whether or not to ban the sale of Nestlé products from SUSU outlets and the year before, Council discussed whether to ban clubs and societies from holding their AGMs at alcoholic venues.

This year we will be deciding how often to hold a referendum on joining the NUS, as well as deciding a Union Master Plan – which we will take to the University, telling them our vision for the next 10 years in terms of services that we provide, and the facilities that building has. We have already responded to the Government’s White Paper on Higher Education, but will also be formulating a campaign that will last through the year, and you can be a big part of how that works – you can have a say in all of this, and really have a positive impact on how SUSU runs not just now, but in the future as well.

It acts as the manager of the Union officers (1 Union President, 6 Vice Presidents, 30 Student leaders and every other volunteer). Union Council can ask questions of Union Officers, applaud or criticise their work, if they are unsatisfied, they can give a censure (official warning) to an officer or in extreme cases recall (sack) them. In this regard Union Council is there to ensure the sabbatical officers (1 Union President, 6 Vice Presidents) don’t act as dictators and that they answer for the decisions they make.

All the decisions taken by Union Council must be by majority vote (50% +1 vote). Decisions of Union Council are final and binding (however in some cases the Trustee board can step in to stop a decision if it has a big financial impact). This means that the elected officers of the Union must support and carry out the policy decision even if they don’t personally agree with it.
Union Council has a total of 75 voting members. The breakdown of the membership is as follows:

The Union President
6 Vice Presidents
2 Student leader Trustees
28 Student Leaders
38 Union Councillors

You can see  that the balance of power is in the hands of the normal Union Councillor and as such if they are unhappy with how SUSU is being run they have real power to change it.

Union Council meets 8 times a year and usually lasts between two hours depending on the number of issues to discuss. We are currently looking at how the meeting takes place but I envisage the first hour being more like a drop in session where members discuss the merits of ideas and the second hour being a more formally meeting with voting.
Currently Union Council is scheduled to take place on the following Monday nights this year 17:00 – 19:00:
• 24 October 2011
• 21 November 2011
• 12 December 2011
• 30 January 2012
• 20 February 2012
• 20 February 2012
• 12 March 2012
• 30 April 2012
• 11 June 2012

For only 8 meetings a year it really is a great way to give direction to what SUSU should be doing and making the lives of every student better.

So what positions are available?
In this round of elections there are 16 student leader officer positions and 30 Union Councillor positions up for grabs.
Being a Union Councillor is the simplest way to get involved in Union Council.

Councillors are elected to reflect the different student groups that make up the membership of SUSU. Any current student at the University of Southampton can become a member of Council and represent the overall student body on the issues debated at Council. It is about representing the entire student body and taking an active role in making SUSU amazing and everyone’s time at Southampton better.

Union Councillors are there to reflect the entire student body and as such the 30 Councillor positions are allocated accordingly, with 2 positions to students from each of the eight faculties and 2 positions to students from each of the following groups:

• Post-graduate taught students
• Post-graduate research students
• Part-time students
• Mature Undergraduate students
• Students with Disabilities
• European students
• International students

It is not the job of Union Councillors to represent the specific student body they come from and hence nominations and elections are held for the general role of Union Councillor. During elections, students will rank the candidates in order of preference. The candidate with the highest number of votes will then be allocated a position according to the student group they fit into. This continues until all positions have been filled. Therefore if you come from one of the less represented groups such as a mature undergraduate student you are more likely to get a position.

Nominating yourself for a Union Councillor position is easy. All you need is the support of two other students.

Visit for more details. As part of the nomination process you have the option to write a manifesto, but there is no need to write an essay! I suggest a few points about why you would be good for the position.


Student Leader

In this round of elections we also have 16 student leader positions open.

Becoming a Student Leader at SUSU is a fantastic opportunity for any student. Working alongside the other Student Leaders, other voluntary officers and the Sabbatical team, you will lead a particular cohort or activity within the Students’ Union. You could be in charge of managing a budget or be responsible for a team of people.

The 16 Student leader positions are as follows, clicking on the names links through to more details about the role.

Nominations Close Thursday 12pm with the voting period Tuesday 11th October – Friday 14th October.

So get your nominations in quick.


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