The Student Union will be debating important changes put forward by Kingston students at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday at 2pm at the Clattern Lecture Theatre.
A wide range of topics will be discussed, such as mandatory consent workshops for first year students, more scholarships for refugees and the consequences of participating in the National Student Survey.
The AGM gives all students a chance to implement change within the university and if a motion gets a majority vote then it becomes Union policy for the next three years.
These policies will affect all Kingston students so follow our liveblog here to keep up to date with what is happening.
It was an eventful AGM, with a lot of discussion. Hopefully the outcome will amount to some positive changes within the union. All motions that are left will go to the Union’s Trustee Board for approval.
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The meeting is over!
The motion has been passed.
“What is important is as a member of a society, the society has to do a background check themselves, so why does it take 30 working days for the union to check if this person is an extremist or not? It is only fair that it is reduced to two weeks.” says motion seconder, Munaim Sayd.
We are being shown a flowchart but the Union which shows the process of getting a guest speaker approved. If a speaker has been before, it is still four weeks.
A student asks if we know the real reason why there is a four week period for speakers to be approved.
We are now back to Hamad’s motion.
This new policy for how the meeting works has been approved.
Students have voted on whether resolves can be reworded but it is unclear who has the majority. The votes are being counted.
Voting for Motion 8 (Hamad’s policy to reduce the time required for a guest speaker to be approved) has been put on hold while this new issue is being discussed.
A student wants to put an amendment to be able to reword amendments – not just get rid of them.
A society must submit a ‘Guest Speaker Request Form’ for any event that involves external speakers at least four weeks before the event
Hamad wants to reduce the time required to approve a speaker who has attended previously to a maximum of two weeks. If a speaker has not previously attended to a maximum of three weeks.
Hamad Momin puts forward the policy to reduce the time required for a guest speaker to be approved.
They have run out of time so the last motion is about to begin. The motions that are left will be left to the Trustee’s board meeting.
The motion was not accepted.
It is hard to tell which side has the majority so a count is being taken.
Beatrice: “We will spend an equal amount on each cultural month, the speakers come in and speak to us for free. As far as being chaotic – this is to support students from different cultures.”
“How much is this going to cost the union? To have events, speakers, trips, every month – how are you going to budget it?” – student question
“If we are going to honour and recognise all the different heritages we have to look at the history of it as well.” – Beatrice
“If we did one every month it would be really chaotic and also take away from Global Festival and with Black History month 2.0 it clashes with LGBT month.” – Union staff member question
“No, I actually want to involve the societies and involve them all” – Beatrice
I think the majority of societies celebrate culture themselves, if you are going to do the same thing – is the purpose of those societies going to go away? – student question
Beatrice is putting forward the next motion for Cultural Heritage Celebration Months. She says: “I propose that each month, we as the union, celebrate a different cultural heritage.”
The motion has been passed.
“I agree that we should always grow and create more jobs. we do have to be careful with the way statements are carried, when I read this, I feel like the union is not doing enough but I know that they are. Other times, people don’t know where to look for help.” – student question
Kamal responds: “I understand that it is great for you, and I feel welcome too, but the idea is to create this for all people in the university.”
“I’m an international student and I made the effort to meet the union officers and the majority of people feel they do make the effort. They do make the effort to get to know people, and it’s certainly approved.” – student question
Kamal Mohamed: “I want to start by saying i am not personally attacking anyone. the whole idea is to expand our experience, the union has a lot of jobs out there, the union is quite welcoming but to some students its not very inviting. a lot of it has to do with culture. the university itself is doing this, they are trying to get more lectures from different backgrounds and the union should do the same. ”
Union staff should go through a series of Cultural Awareness Programs to better understand the students from international and global majority backgrounds.
The motion has been approved!
Hamas responds by saying: “The bare minimum we want is the union to make a statement and to hold a conference to bring speakers and create a discussion”
“We can go to our local MPs, we can go to the House of Commons – that is up to you guys.”
“How far can we take it? Do you want it to be discussed in the Hosue of Commons?” – student question
Hamad: “At the moment the people of Syria are in genocide, over 470,000 people have been killed and millions of others have been displaced. The stance would be to make a public statement to say we don’t agree with this – staying in silence is indirectly supporting the crimes.
We want the next generation to understand what is right and wrong”
Can you explain exaclty what the stance you would take is?- student question
Hamad Momin puts forward the fifth motion to officially take a stance and stand in solidarity with the people of Syria.
Students voted to keep this motion.
“I understand the merit of the motion and it isn’t EU students fault that England didn’t choose to Brexit, it’s almost kind of xenophobic that EU students should be the only ones with protection.” – student comment
A student makes the point that it shouldn’t be just protection for EU students but for all international students.
Zuzanna: “We don’t get maintanence loans. It’s really hard for us to pay for rent, money wise it’s really difficult so visa resitrictions will make it even harder and university life is difficult as it is studying in a different country. The most important point in this motion is that there should be union, there should be no borders.”
Zuzanna Zajac puts forward the motion for EU student protection after Brexit.
The majority of students voted to keep this motion.
“There’s a certain way to go about doing certain things, being course rep I have had many issues come to me that can all be underlined by a bit of training about what is the right way to go about things, what is the right way to go about gender and what is the right way to go about sexuality.
If we can start this in the union, where can it go from there?”
“I think it’s important that anybody can identify with how they personally feel with how they want to identify.”
“The world isn’t blue and pink, it’s a rainbow and we should stick to that.”
Jamie-Leigh Fish puts forward the motion to encourage solidarity with the KU LGBT+ students to make them feel safer.
Students voted to remove this motion.
Daisy explains that there are still many opportunities for students to get involved in volunteering, but this policy is to take a stance against volunteering in orphanages.
There is a lot of confusion with whether the resolves can be changed or reworded. Alayna, chair of the AGM, confirms that they can only be removed – not reworded.
Elif responds by saying that “there are good things and bad things going on in the world, and the facts are out there, we have references, but we need to take stance against this to make a change.”
Elif says: “I understand that there are good things and bad things going on in the world, the facts are out there, we have got the references but in order to make a change we have to stand against this. That is what I personally about it.”
A student asks about how the statistic of 80% of children living in orphanages are not actually orphans came about.
Daisy responds by saying that they are not talking about all charities but just orphanage volunteering and voluntourism.
The student who is standing against wants to clarify that if this policy goes through, will students not be able to raise money for orphanages.
Elif responds by saying: “I totally understand the points you are worried about but we are not saying let’s stop all support for helping orphanages but I believe that we have the power to create change, to make all of them proper, right and running smoothly in children’s benefits by standing against it and make the change and support it.”
A student goes against this by saying that the union should be looking at the charity commission and what it is there for. They need to look at which charities do this, it is disgusting, but orphans are in need and do need to be taken care of.
“Studies have shown that 80% of children who live in orphanages are not orphans and have been abducted from their parents. JK Rowling uses her platform to actively campaign against them. We believe thatr orphanage volunterring has strayed away from it’s original purpose. We want the union to make an official stance and commit to the stoping od child exploitation through voluntourism.”
Elif Bulut: “People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. There are plenty of things around the world that people need to change. However, how much do we actually know about these projects?”
The students have voted and motion one has gone through.
Students voted to remove resolve one – so there will be no risk assessment on the ramifications of participating in the NSS survey.
“The risk assessment is based off of how it’s going to affect different faculties. We have courses that are the top in the world and we have courses that are at the bottom and this what the risk assessment is about” – Beatrice
Lalia responds by saying that “not every university has boycotted it and if it does got through and we don’t have a years worth of survery information then the university suffers, basically.”
One student has a proposed amendment:
“NUS has already boycotted this and spent thousands of pounds so why do we need to take a risk assessment. This is mainly linked to the role of the NUS president, I would like to basically request you to help me to remove resolve one.”
“So technically we could join in on a wider national campaign that boycotts the national student survey. What do you think we should do? Should we campaign to tell students what this is or should we lie down and take it?”
Nobody wants to speak against this motion.
Daisy says: “Its a criteria that goes ‘how well do you teach’ and depending on how well you teach you can raise tuition. Universities don’t like, it we don’t like it and it’s really important that students know about it.”
Time for the motions to begin
Student Elections 2017:
“As a President of a sports club, I found communication with the sports union officer really sub-par. I asked him about sponsorships and no-one replied. Is there going to be any improvements on this? Is the next person who is going to be the sports society union officer going to be better at communication and improve funding?” – student question
Beatrice: “I missed Thanksgiving to attend meetings, we all miss meetings. Haider booked this time off months before this date was selected.
“We are also humans, and this needs to be respected. If you have any questions, please email him.”
“This is particular for Haider not being here, this is a full time paid position, I know he is on annual leave but I don’t know why an officer should miss an AGM meeting.” – student question
Daisy: “How do we contact mass students? There are so many ways and everyone likes different ways. I think we need to work a lot more on our social media. I think we should do a weekly livestream with a summary of what we have done. The union’s been working very closely with the university marketing team.”
“I want to encourage every course rep to go to their meetings so we can get your feedback. It is really important” – Beatrice
Beatrice says that all four officers sat down and talked about which different officers were best suited to do a certain role. “This is what we decided and if you don’t like it you can submit motions for next year,” she said.
There will be more information on this in the motions later.
Daisy responds by explaining that they do have student networks and they are working in making themselves more democratic.
“We haven’t been able to complete the whole process of change,” she said.
Patrick said: “the idea behind the student networks was to provide a network for students that identify into a group that feels oppressed in society. The idea behind it was to give these students a voice and elect a leader to be the voice of the students. Unfortunately this hasn’t been getting off the ground very well.”
“I wanted to ask about the constitution, thre years ago the executive officers were all abolished and I think that leaves a big gap in terms of democracy and liberation. Would it not be better to elect specific officers?” – student question
Students were very happy with the idea of gender neutral toilets!
Patrick also helped with Black History month with Beatrice and will be repeating it this year. We have LGBT history month and Women’s history month in March.
Patrick Tatarian, Roehampton Vale Officer and Student Welfare Officer, is now explaining his role in the union.
Daisy: “It’s really difficult because we stand for a campus based officer but we also wear a second hat which means we also have more specified things that we work on.
We can say, we really encourage students to have events at each campus – but they complain. Because people are so used to having events at Penrhyn, they complain.”
Beatrice: “It goes back to what you guys want, we have to break it up into different catagories. Sports and societies hold a lot of the events, so working with the leaders is key. I’m the academic affairs officer so I can try to work with them but can’t do everything.”
“Are you going to move some events to Knights park?” – student question
Beatrice: “You guys asked for more bike racks and I got on it and it’s approved.”
Beatrice answers: “I try to fit my schedule around you guys and ask you guys what you want from me. I’m always asking you guys, what do you want me to do? For Black History Month I have booked the Stanley Picker gallery so you can show off your work.”
“Knights Park is considered as the least involved campuses in events around the university. How do you get the communication between students?” – student question
“What have you guys done as a union to tackle the attainment gap?” – student question
Beatrice Carey, the second ever Knights Park officer in KU history, has been working hard to slash printing prices by 50% and promoting Black history month.
Haider ends the video with an inspirational quote:
“I can push the mountain, but I can’t move it. You guys have to help me.”
Haider’s plan for this semester is a Global Festival that celebrates all cultures and where people can come down to the courtyard at Penrhyn and promote different cultures.
“The union is a space for everyone, we don’t just look after one person, or one course or one culture. We work with everyone. We are here for all of you. It’s not easy, but I’m still working on it,” Haider said.
“We have four different campuses that are very disengaged.”
We are shown a video from Haider Chaudry, the Kingston Hill officer, who explains that his biggest accompishments were bringing all campuses together, raising money for charities.
“Getting everyone engaged with the union is the hardest part, I was welcoming everyone at freshers fair – I told them what the union is and what we do,” he said.
“We are going to develop our liberation activity and campaigns. A lot of students come to us for advice on money and housing, which we are not able to do. We are working on being able to do this.”
Daisy: “We are going to be growing student engagement, we are developing structures where students can hold us to account. We want more students running for the student elections.”
Daisy: “This financial report is from our predecessors, traditionaly the union affairs officers would work with the uni SMT. It’s not like we’re like, oh we wanna have a big balloon party, we need to get it approved.”
Student: “How do you decide the budget?”
Daisy said: “We have put the students at the heart of what we do. We have focused on representation, we want to target all students across the uni.”
100% of students just voted to say that they were happy with the budget.
A student had asked: “Are you going to explain the budget on more detail?”
“We were spending way more on the shops, at the end of the day, instead of spending money on activities and students and so on, we were spending money on bars and shops.”
Daisy Bow Du Toit:
“Bars and shops brought in money, we get a giant block fund from the university which gives us money to put back into the student union.”
Daisy Bow Du Toit, the Penrhyn road officer, said:
“Originally we used to have bars and shops and the year I’m reporting, 2015-16, I am reporting on a different type of centre. We were facilitaing a lot of change. At the start of the financial year, predicted loss of £100,000 but we actually managed to come out with a £4000 surplus.”
Free Domino’s pizza is being handed out and the mood of the room has suddenly lifted!
Alayna, Chair of the AGM, said: “We have a total number of 14 motions today, which is probably the most we’ve ever had.”
It’s starting! All students are given a red or green voting card which they will be using later to vote on different policies.
Clattern lecture theatre is starting to fill up – the meeting should be starting very soon.
Good morning everyone.
We will be live from 2pm today so make sure you come back to this post to follow the Big Student Meeting.