Alex Hovden


16 March 2017 14:38

What’s happening about Sleeping Pods??

Those of you who were at the AGM & Open Council in May last year may recall a policy proposal that mandated the Union to invest in sleeping pods, and place them within the Union building.

In case you are interested, the policy is here.

The policy was passed by 128 votes to 124, and no amendments were made to the policy during the meeting.

Since then, the Union has been looking into the practicalities of implementing it. It is expected that to buy pods similar to those in use at Google costs in the region of £6k – £10k each (exchange rate dependent) and would take up a significant amount of space. In December, at the Operations and Services Advisory Forum (a group of elected students which advises Union Senate and the Trustee Board on stuff like marketing, communications, The Shop, events, and bars) the policy was discussed, and it was agreed that Trustee Board should consider the policy at its’ January meeting.

For those of you who are not clear on the role of the Trustees in the Union, they have joint legal responsibility for the Union as a charity. This means that we have to make sure that it is fulfilling all its legal,financial, and staffing policies. The Trustees also set the strategic direction of the Union. Ultimately, we are held responsible for everything that the Union does and spends money on, and we are required to keep in mind the mission, which is to Unlock the potential and enrich the life of every student.

The powers of the Trustees are quite broad, but the circumstances under which they can be used are fairly specific. They are set out in the Articles of Association of the Union (i.e. the constitution).

Article 22.3 states that:

The Board considered very carefully the policy during its meeting at the end of January. It was discussed that making such an investment in multiple pods would be financially challenging, especially given the Union’s objective to build it’s strategic free cash reserves in line with our policy on it. The other point that was made was that space is very limited at the moment, and that with the Union redevelopment coming forward, the focus is going to be on creating multi-purpose spaces as opposed to single-use spaces. It was also pointed out that napping during the day is an unhealthy habit that the pods would only encourage. As an aside to that point, David Allwright – the Vice President Welfare, is looking into improving the information available on the Union’s website about getting good sleep at night.

In terms of lobbying the University to also invest in sleeping pods, it was agreed that to lobby for something without doing it ourselves would be quite hypocritical, and in any case there was broad consensus around the room that the University are extremely unlikely to undertake the investment as a result of the 10 year plan that it is embarking upon.

It was therefore agreed with a clear majority by the Board that the policy should not be upheld, and in line with the powers of the Trustees it was agreed to lapse the policy effective immediately.

If anyone has any questions on this, or the work of Trustee Board, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I am always more than happy to discuss any topic with any student.

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