Firstly, there is a movement that has been created by some students from the University. It calls for a General Meeting at the Guild of Students. To find out more, please follow @ReclaimThe Guild on twitter, peruse their website at www.reclaimtheguild.com or find them on Facebook by searching for ‘Reclaim the Guild’.
And onto the report…
All Guild Council meetings tend to get rather passionate with various sides of a debate getting frustrated that the other cannot be led to agree with their points. As such, I learnt that I get extremely passionate about rooms within the Guild and, separately, the role of the President. Both passions are logical as I used to be a President of a society, and am currently in a team with a prominent President; and I have experience of being frustrated about being beaten down by the demand by more established societies about the need for rooms within the Guild therefore having less bookable space would cause further, more intense frustration.
As my constituents are likely to live away from the surrounding areas of Edgbaston and main campus, I imagine that many would not have been able to attend Guild Council last night. As such, this blog post may end up being particularly detailed so I do apologise if the length makes you forget about something important you needed to do today. Write a check list now! I don’t intend to discuss every aspect of the seven hour long meeting, however, as not all of it was relevant to either my constituents or the reaction it created within me.
One of the motions called for a ‘tweak’ in the description of the President’s role, as written in the bye-laws. It was claimed, by the proposer, that this does not alter the role of the President in any way but removes a phrase that is an oxymoron and satisfies correct use of English. Whilst this is something I agree with, being a self-confessed pedant for use of language and grammar, the proposed amendment went further:
“As Chair and spokesperson of both the Sabbatical Officer Group and the Guild Officer Group the President shall be
first amongst equals and act as the lead officer of the Guild of Studentsresponsible for supporting each sabbatical officer in their role.”
The amended description gives the impression that the President would still act as a face of the team but also a secretary under the Vice Presidents to organise the time of his/her team rather than as a leader, as implied by the title of his/her job. To satisfy pedantic language needs, I would have stopped after the first clause as the second does not need correction. During Guild Council, I asked the proposer the reason for the inclusion of the second clause in the amended text to which the reply was that the Chair of a committee in a student group is never the leader but more the supporter of the rest of the team. Though the proposer comes from a strong student groups background, I also was a committee member in my time so have experience of this. As the President of a society, I felt that I was primarily the leader and delegated tasks to the committee in order to ensure the smooth running of the society. As the society was one I established myself, with a friend, it was even more of a personal experience having written the constitution, including the roles of each committee member, ourselves. I felt that the proposer was dangerously changing the dynamic of the team, especially this year, which would have a detrimental affect on the team’s structure and relationship. This motion passed, however, after much debate, so I guess Mark’s role has changed slightly. Consider my feathers ruffled.
The most passionate response I gave was to the motion that called for four rooms in the Guild to be allocated to each liberation association respectively (LGBTQ, Ethnic Minorities, Womens, Disabled Students). This would take the four rooms off the room booking system to the detriment of student groups. As reported, the main purpose of these rooms would be to create a safe space where meetings could be held regularly and events could take place. Consequently, a greater presence of these associations would occur. I am hugely supportive of liberating students who may feel marginalized and do not wish any uncomfortable feelings amongst them. However, I could not understand why taking four rooms away from student groups, who are frustrated with the lack of room in the Guild to begin with, would be beneficial to both parties.
During the meeting, I asked this question, raising the issue of the variety of events, each with different room requirements and specifications, that would become restricted in the event that this motion would pass. The response I got was not satisfactory as the proposer began to explain the meaning of a safe space. This was not what I was focusing on but thankfully the Guild Councillors in the room recognised the problem and voted accordingly. The motion did not pass but the liberation assocations and, hopefully, officers will discuss with the Vice President of Activities and Development a compromise or solution to this matter which is clearly an issue that needs to be resolved.
Unfortunately, after discussing this motion with a variety of people it seems that the motion would have passed if only one room was asked for, as a cross-liberation room, rather than the rather ambitious four. To create a greater presence, I encourage liberation associations to organise events to raise the profile of each liberation sector and to benefit all students. For example, the current Womens Officer is doing a brilliant job with the Womens Association to organise Womens Week, to take place the week post-elections. (To get involved, email Kelly at email@example.com)
Other motions were discussed during the nearly seven-hour-long meeting but those two particularly stood out as directly affecting either myself or Satellite Sites students. If you were unhappy with my response to these two, please do let me know so I can act accordingly. If also you’d like to know what else was discussed, I’d be happy to go into more detail either in a future blog post or in a private conversation.
Always happy to chat,