Kerry Sclater


26 May 2016 14:34

When’s the referendum going to be?

After a lengthy discussion this morning, Democracy Zone Committee have decided that the rebrand referendum will be held at the start of the next academic year.

Under the Rules, Democracy Zone Committee is responsible for the conduct and timing of all referendums. The Committee had two choices: either hold it next week, or at the start of the next academic year.

There were a lot of really good arguments for both sides and the (draft) minutes of the meeting will be available soon so you can see how the debate happened.

Over twenty students attended the meeting and so many good points were put forward. I was genuinely so happy to hear from so many different people and I think we had a really good debate.

In the end, a lot of the arguments came down to when we’re going to get the most students engaged. I think the final vote reflects the fact that we just won’t get the engagement such a big decision deserves this close to the end of term. Also, a decision on rebranding isn’t something that happens often, and to hold the referendum now would have meant that a load of finalists get to cast votes on something that will never affect them, and the thousands of Freshers we have starting in September won’t get any say at all, which is pretty unfair, seeing as they’re the ones who are going to be here for the next three years!

There were six members of the Committee present: me, as the Chair; Ben Franklin, the Union President; Jamie Wilson, the Vice-President Sports Development; Trini Phillip, Student Groups Officer; Frazer Delves, as a representative from Union Council and Jade Head, the Chair of Council (who is a non-voting member). Giles Howard, who is the other Union Council representative, couldn’t make the meeting.

But in the end, the Committee did have to make a decision. Ben and Trini voted to have it in the next academic year, Frazer voted to have it next week, and Jamie abstained, so we’ll be running a referendum at the start of the next academic year on the two questions that Emma proposed in her petition this week. The details of this referendum will be decided by next year’s Democracy Zone Committee.

I’d just like to thank everyone who came, especially the people we haven’t seen get involved in Committee meetings before. If anything, it proved to me why the Democracy Review we’ve done this year is so important – we need to change our structures so it’s much easier for students to get involved in the decisions we make. Next year will be different – I know it often feels like nothing ever changes – and I believe the reforms that we’ve agreed this year will help us get even more and better student involvement in our decision-making processes.

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7 Comments on "When’s the referendum going to be?"

  1. kerrysclater
    26/05/2016 at 3:00 pm Permalink

    You really can’t spin this as a good thing, Kerry. Please stop trying. Either you’ve been “humbled” or you’re going to do what you can to inhibit the students’ voice as much as possible. The committee chose the latter today, and you need to own your organisation’s decision. *Especially* as the sabbatical whose role unfortunately encompasses democracy.

  2. kerrysclater
    Alex Hovden
    26/05/2016 at 3:16 pm Permalink

    With all due respect Kerry, I would be frankly ashamed if a committee that I chaired made such an unrepresentative decision with so few voting members.

  3. kerrysclater
    Leon Rea
    26/05/2016 at 5:21 pm Permalink

    Shameful. Despite believing a referendum is the last resort, so in this case did not sign the petition, the fact students feel strongly enough to do so should be respected and the referendum held promptly. A referendum held soon would allow this, one way or the other, to be dealt with by Summer, allowing the new Sabs to concentrate on making next year successful; now they will left to hold the dirty linen of this year’s “leadership”.

    A Summer for people to become “used” to the new branding, the most confident students who can stand up for themselves and are not afraid to buck the trend to leave and therefore never be heard, and an organised campaign to be developed to ensure the result you want. To now, every point I have disagreed with SUSU/Us., has been made privately; but, I am ashamed of how the Union has turned out this year.

    I quite liked the new branding, just felt the way it was rolled out was wrong; now I feel more strongly about supporting the “dissenting” voices who have been quietened whenever possible. I will be joining them.

  4. kerrysclater
    HB pencil
    26/05/2016 at 5:36 pm Permalink

    A person who won’t be here next year taking the decision to dis-enfranchise people who won’t be here next year. Finalists don’t benefit from electing next year’s union sabbs either but they still get a vote for that.

    The whole thing stinks of managing the electorate to get the result the sabbs want. Shame.

  5. kerrysclater
    A disappointed voter.
    26/05/2016 at 8:28 pm Permalink

    Alex, I honestly think that is a very reckless and thoughtless thing to say for a president elect. I would be ashamed if I had voted for someone as present of an organisation who then publicly attacked a current officer.

  6. kerrysclater
    26/05/2016 at 9:24 pm Permalink

    @A disappointed voter
    I think it is perhaps more shameful as an outgoing officer to go actively go against the request of the incoming sabbatical team, who will alone face the consequences of this decision. What a daunting, negative task to give them as the very first thing they must tackle in the autumn term – far better to have this all taken care of before then and give a strong impression with the agreed brand come freshers’ week. I can hardly blame Alex for speaking out under the circumstances – what else can he do in this situation? As someone who has held an elected position in the Union, I couldn’t imagine going against a direct request from my successor when my time was almost up, especially when compounded by the fact many students hold the same opinion.

  7. kerrysclater
    Alex Hovden
    26/05/2016 at 10:47 pm Permalink

    To: A disappointed voter…

    I have clarified my comment on Facebook, copied below for your info:

    The comment above was not intended as a personal attack, and I have since clarified this with Kerry and Jamie, also apologising for misunderstanding. As I said in the comment in response to Bruno, Kerry’s work this year particularly on the Democracy review has been exemplary and I have taken opportunities to congratulate Kerry and her team for this throughout the year.

    That is fundamentally different from me expressing my opinions (which I know are shared by many others) about the meeting and its’ outcome, because I believe it was wholly unsatisfactory, and as the full time officer who takes the lead on all things Democracy, Kerry is the person who I can hold to account for that. Yes, the manner in which I went about that was very strongly worded, but this should not be seen as me directing a personal attack against Kerry, but more as an expression of my strength of feeling on the matter. From chatting to Kerry since, she seems to understand that, for which I am very grateful.

    People who are passionate about stuff are occasionally going to come out with strongly worded statements, which should not be confused with personal attacks. I am very passionate about proper democracy and proper representation, and the decision made today is, in my opinion, not an example of those. I look forward to the debate next week at the emergency meeting of council to explain why.

    Hope that helps, please don’t hesitate to get in touch 🙂

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