The AMM (Annual Members’ Meeting) took place on Tuesday 27th February. The event was chaired by Hari Sood, Chair of the Student Council, while the SU's full time officers were also in attendence.
Across the evening, 7 motions were debated and passed with the remaining motions being transferred to next year’s student council.
The event took place at the SU, students arrived and were given voting cards and free pizza. The cards read, ‘vote now’, ‘lost’ which was used when someone did not understand the motion or debate and then a card which said ‘for’ on one side and ‘against’ on the other.
Each person had ninety seconds to propose their motion. After this someone could either put forward an amendment to the motion, oppose the argument or ask a question from the floor. They also used a quorate system meaning if enough students attending the AMM voted in favour of a motion then it would be immediately passed. However, as the meeting was not quorate, passed motions are not yet SU policy and will be voted on again at the next Student Council meeting.
In between the proposed motions, the current SU officers played short YouTube videos explaining to the audience what they have achieved in their roles so far and what goals they have for the rest of the year.
MOTION 1: Students support strike action (PASSED)
The first motion of the evening was ‘Students support strike action’ proposed chiefly by Chante Joseph. She stated that ‘61% of students nationally support the strike action’ and in defence of objecting cuts to staff pensions claimed that ‘the Vice Chancellor has claimed over £4000 in business lunches’. Josie Hooker then amended the motion adding a need for a £350 initiative to support UCU campaigns and provide drinks in the cold, materials for banners and so on. Both of which were passed without great debate.
MOTION 2: BeMankind active (PASSED)
The second motion to be discussed was proposed by Isaac Haigh asking for a male equivalent of the female-based exercise programmes the SU currently offers such as ‘Fit & Fab’. He spoke from an angle supporting mental health, stating that many men are intimidated by the gym environment as well as women and would benefit from a class community where they feel included and comfortable.
One person spoke against the motion asking if it would take venue space away from the existing clubs and classes as the SU is currently run at capacity. Questions from the floor also included ‘there’s enough male dominance in sports, why is there the need for this?’ However, the proposer explained that it will hugely benefit nervous people who are keen to exercise and want an anti-lad culture alternative. He also explained that currently, 86% of class based attendance identifies as female. After some debate the motion was passed.
Be ManKind Part 2 is coming...— Bristol SU (@Bristol_SU) February 28, 2018
Look out for videos featuring conversations with over 60 men about masculinity, mental health, their views on being a man and when they last cried.
Find out more >> https://t.co/cycMq3HziJ pic.twitter.com/vysVuLlCHO
MOTION 3: Prevent future trans-exclusionary radical feminist groups from holding events at the University (PASSED without the amendment)
The motion was proposed by Charlotte Buchanan asking for TERF groups to be banned from speaking at the University as they incite hatred and put the trans community in adverse danger. There was an amendment put forth by Zak who asked for the no-platforming element of the proposal to be removed in defence of free speech and expression. He stated in his amendment that ‘no-platforming should be reserved for fascists’.
Chair of the Trans Network spoke in defence of the original motion and said ‘8 out of 10 trans students don’t feel safe on campus’ and that radical feminist groups denying their female identity continued to marginalise their community and put them in danger. The debate lasted just under an hour before the amendment was rejected and the motion was passed by secret ballot.
MOTION 4: Support Refugee and Asylum seeker access to higher education (PASSED)
The motion was proposed by Matthew Dominey encouraging the University to actively support and promote refugee and asylum seekers in gaining a university education. It was passed very quickly without debate.
MOTION 5: Denounce Brexit (PASSED)
The proposal for the SU to formally denounce Brexit before the final terms of leaving the EU are finalised was proposed by Max Langer. There were a few queries as to whether this motion is a valuable use of resources and whether the Bristol SU can make significant change in national policy. One student suggested the SU opposes changes to the Erasmus scheme specifically as it is relevant to students, rather than Brexit as a whole. After mild debate the motion was passed.
MOTION 6: Increasing inter-faculty Open Units (PASSED)
The motion was proposed by Anya Sharma who stated ‘there are ninety-five open units available at Bristol and 65% of them are from the faculty of arts’. Her request is for a fairer, wider range of open units from all 6 faculties. Her motion was passed without debate.
MOTION 7: Protecting students in nightclubs and bars (PASSED)
Sally Patterson proposed the motion to further the SU’s current Zero Tolerance policy and ensure this occurs at all events hosted or supported by the SU in order to reduce sexual harassment and abuse in nightclub and bar settings. The motion was passed quickly and brought the evening to a close.
The three remaining motions will be transferred to the next student council. They were ‘Boycott the border industry on campus’, ‘Establish a multi-faith network’ and ‘make PG education accessible to International PG students’.
The AMM is not the only opportunity to have your say on Union policies, the SU is open all year. There are regular student council meetings which take place once a term and are open to all students, though only student representatives can vote.
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Featured image credit: Nikki Peach