The referendum launched by the Student Union to change the way elected officers represent students has been passed with an 80 per cent majority ‘YES’ vote.
KUSU has reported that a total of 782 votes were cast, with 628 students voting in favour and 154 students against the proposed changes.
The referendum called for an end to the system of remit based officers that currently exist, replacing it with campus based officers instead. Students at each campus will now be able to vote for a full time officer to represent them.
Will Franden, VP Activities at KUSU, said: “This past week showed a high turnout of students voting and really showed that students genuinely care about the union and improving it for the future. The full time officers, and the students agree that this new campus based officer system is more representational, caters to the student body at KU, and will help increase student engagement in the union.”
So, for example, Kingston Hill will have one full time officer named ‘Kingston Hill Officer’ that will serve to represent students and their needs at Kingston Hill Campus. In addition they will have an additional remit that will include other roles within the union, university and community.
The way in which part time officers are to be elected has also changed. Under the changes each officer will have to self-define from the liberation group they hope to represent. For example, KUSU’s LGBT Officer will have to be a member of the LGBT+ Society or another similar group to be eligible to stand in the elections.
However, President of Kingston’s LGBT Society, Ryan Boxall, has been actively campaigning against the proposed changes. He said that the passing of the referendum indicates a “fundamental step backwards” in KUSU’s fight for LGBT rights.
Boxall said: “I’m obviously concerned at the passing of the referendum. In my view this is discriminating against LGBT students at Kingston who aren’t ‘out’ or not involved with the LGBT community at the University. The LGBT+ Society, in partnership with the local Kingston LGBT Forum, will continue to fight to protect all lesbian, gay, bi and trans students at Kingston, regardless if they have paid to join the society or not.”
KUSU’s website stated that the decision to propose this change came about as a result of the Governance review (2012) and the results of their research conducted by Redbrick (2014), both of which indicated that KU students want “more representation, involvement in union decision-making and would like to be able to hold their officers to account.”
The motion for change stated that: “KUSU notes… that student feedback has shown that KUSU is Penrhyn Road centric and that KUSU lacks sufficient presence on other campuses.”
The motion also mentioned that students on other campuses find it difficult to engage with activities with the Student Union.
The new campus officer positions will be opening for nominations on February 11, Wednesday, and the new officers will be voted in next month.