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Union Council Review

24 October 2011


Union Council Review – 24 October 2011, Union Council (Ref: 1112P11)

Union  Notes

  1. Union Council policy passed on 14 March 2011 which mandated the (then) “current Sabbatical team to work with next year’s elect team, plus any Union Councillors who are interested, on an evaluation of Union Council which will look at how and where it is possible to improve the debate process, as well as making Union Council more engaging for its Councillors”
  2. The mandate in the same policy for the Sabbatical team to report back on their findings at the first Union Council of the 2011-12 academic year
  3. The various sessions set up since then to consider this question, which Sabbaticals and Student Leaders have attended.

Union Believes

  1. Decision making can be improved within Union Council if more emphasis is placed on discussing and researching ideas BEFORE policy is drafted
  2. Officers will be more successful if the accountability mechanisms recognise success as well as failings.

Union Resolves

  1. To change the way debates take place and to amend the rules for automatic sanctions in order to improve the decision making and accountability processes of Union Council
  2. In order to achieve this, amend the Standing Orders as follows:

From SO1, delete from 3 to end and insert new:

3.“Union Council

3.1 Union Council is authorised to:

a)    Decide Union Policy.

b)   Ensure that UMB, Standing Committees and Officers are implementing the decisions and abiding by Union Policy.

c)    Receive plans from Officers and Standing Committees for the year ahead

d)   Monitor the performance of Officers and Standing Committees against their plans and take appropriate action as necessary.

e)    Approve the Financial Schedule at the first Council meeting of each year, which will indicate the maximum sum that may be approved by committees, officers and individuals.

f)     Approve all expenditure above the limits set out in the financial schedule

g)   Carry out elections of voluntary officers and occasional bye elections, if necessary.


3.2 Union Council shall consist of:

a)    Chair of Council (to be elected by and from the full members of the Union at the AGM);

b)   All Sabbatical Officers

c)    All Student Leader Trustees

d)   All Student Leaders

e)    Union Councillors (30) selected to reflect the membership of the Union, with two from each of the following:
i.       Post-graduate taught students
ii.       Post-graduate research students
iii.       Part-time students
iv.       Mature Undergraduate students
v.       Students with Disabilities
vi.       European Students

vii.       International Students

viii.    Each faculty

f)     Union Councillors (8) open positions


3.3 Ordinary Council Meetings shall take place at 6 times each Academic Year noting that:

a)    Thefirst will be held in week 4 of the autumn term

b)   There should be at least 2 Council meetings each term


3.4 Extraordinary and Emergency meetings of Council may be called for by a decision of Council, the Trustees or a petition of 25% of councillors.

a)   Emergency Meetings should be convened within 3 clear days of the written request, so the timetable below does not apply.

b)   Extraordinary and Emergency meetings will only discuss the matter(s) for which they were called.


3.5 The following timetable shall apply for Council Meetings:

a)    The meeting time, date and venue must be advertised at least 14 clear days before the meeting

b)   Motions and reports, must be submitted at least 7 clear days before the meeting

c)    The agenda shall be published at least 3 clear days before the meeting

d)   Emergency motions (which shall relate to matters which arose after the agenda closed and must be dealt with before the next meeting) may be submitted up to 1 hour before the start of the meeting

e)    Amendments may be submitted up to 3 hours before the start of the Meeting.


3.6 Quorum for all Council Meetings shall be 2/3 of its elected members.


3.7 Where a Union Council meeting is inquorate the Chair will decide the best course of action between continuing or stopping the
meeting.  Any business transacted whilst the meeting is inquorate must be referred to the next meeting of Union Council for ratification.


3.8 Decisions of a Council Meeting will take precedence over those of other Union meetings, except a Referendum, General Meeting or in the case of Union Management Board acting in line with their role as Trustees.


4 Union Policy

4.1 Union Policy can be set by Referendum, General Meeting, Union Council or Trustees.


4.2 In the case of Trustees, this policy must only relate to administrative and operational matters, not statements of a political nature and will remain in place until amended by Trustees.


4.3 Union policy made at Referendum, General Meeting or Union Council shall lapse at the end of the academic year which contains the 4th anniversary of the policy being passed or last ratified.


a)    Constitution Committee will recommend to Union Council in the first term which of the policies due to lapse should be retained.

a)    Union Council will accept or amend the recommendation and the policies will be lapsed or retained at the year-end as agreed.


4.4 Union Policy may also be specifically lapsed within an updating motion to Referendum, General Meeting or Union Council


4.5 Policy Creation

a)    Union Council will operate a two stage system for creating policy

  • At The Ideas Stage any student can submit ideas for policy.
  • These will be discussed informally by Union Council, outside of formal business.
  • In the formal meeting the relevant Student Leader or Sabbatical Officer will propose to Union Council what course of action will follow as a result of the idea.
  • The options available are Do nothing with the idea, refer to an officer or standing committee to develop into a Policy Proposal or consider immediately in the same meeting.

b)   At the Policy Proposal Stage Union Council will receive a formal Policy Proposal for each idea referred from the Ideas Stage of the meeting.

  • Between the two meetings, appropriate research and if applicable discussion at Standing Committees will be undertaken to inform the policy proposal
  • Policy Proposals must be proposed by either two full members or a Standing Committee.

c)    There will be no Ideas Stage at General Meetings, though ideas may be referred as Policy proposals to either General Meetings or Union Council.


4.6 Formal Debate

a)    Discussion in The Ideas Stage of Union Council will be informal and led by an appropriate Student Leader or Sabbatical.  It will not be bound by these rules.

b)   In the Policy Proposal Stage of Union Council and in General meetings, the Chair will ensure all matters have a balanced debate, commencing with the proposer and that all members who wish to contribute are able to do so, as is reasonable.

c)    When the Chair is speaking, no other members may remain standing or speak.

d)   The proposer will sum up, prior to the vote, but may not introduce new information in this speech

e)    Length of speeches will be established within an appropriate by-law


5 General Provisions and Procedures for

5.1 Attendance

a)    Full members of the Union may attend and speak at any Union meeting, except those considered closed business (usually staffing and disciplinary issues, but others at the chair’s discretion).

b)   All other members may attend any meeting as observers, but cannot play any active part in the meeting unless directly asked to by the chair.

c)    Representatives of the public or media shall be admitted at the discretion of the Chair.


5.2 Emergency Business

a)   Full Members may submit emergency business for consideration at Union Council or General Meetings

b)   Such business will only be accepted if it has arisen since the agenda closed and must be dealt with before the next meeting.


5.3 The Chair of Council

a)   The Chair of Council (Chair) will be elected by and from the full members of the Union at the AGM;

b)   The Chair will be called upon to chair all meetings of Union Council and all General Meetings.

c)    In the absence of the Chair, the President (or their nominee) shall take the chair.

d)   The Chair shall not normally vote except a casting vote.

e)   The Chair will step down when any motion about them is being considered.

f)     It is the Chair’s role to ensure the meetings are run smoothly and that they follow the rules.


5.4 Any member may raise a procedural motion during a debate to achieve the following:

a)    To give the current speaker an extension

b)  To take the proposal in specific parts

c)   To refer the question to another body or person

d)  To move to the vote

e)   To move to an informal discussion

f)    Towithdraw the question

g)   To challenge the chair’s ruling

h)  To remove the chair for a specified time during the meeting

i)    That a non-member be allowed to contribute


5.5 All procedural motions will be put to a vote of the meeting as soon as they are moved.


5.6 Constitution Committee will develop and approve By laws clarifying the detail of how debate will work.”


SO11 – Discipline of Officers, delete 5 and insert new:


5.       “Automatic Sanctions

5.1 Council reserves the right to summarily remove from office any Union Officer (except a Sabbatical) in any circumstances that Council sees fit subject only to such a decision being approved by a two thirds majority of a quorate meeting.  In the case of a Sabbatical Officer, the case must first be heard by the Disciplinary Committee.


5.2 Non-attendance of Union officers at Union Council and other Standing Committees will be recorded in the minutes of that committee.  The record will contain details of the total possible attendances, the proportion attended and those not attended with and without apologies.  If an Officer fails to give apologies for non-attendance at three meetings or fails to attend six meetings, there performance will be subject to review by the relevant Sabbatical.  Should this occur for a Sabbatical Officer, the Sabbatical team will review.

5.3 A summary of such attendance records will be displayed on Union Council minutes.


5.4 Union Council may also allocate “Golden Stars” to officers who have performed very well.  These will also be recorded on the Union Council minutes.”


This Union mandates

  1. The VP Communications and the Chair of Council to work together to ensure these changes are effective at the next meeting of Union Council.

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Categories: Democracy, Lapsed Policy, SUSU Governance

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