SU to adopt APPG definition of Islamophobia as Student Council passes all motions


By Georgiana Scott, Investigations Editor

84 student representatives attended the second and last student council meeting of the year yesterday evening in the SU. All motions were passed on the night and will be taken forward as SU policy.

With exactly 84 voting students required for policies and decisions to be passed (otherwise known as a quorate) the evening commenced with the ratification of February’s Annual Members Meeting (AMM) decisions, where turnout was too low for motions to be accepted as official policy. A clear vote was given by the audience to pass all the motions brought forward from the AMM.

An early proposal in the meeting was whether to ‘refine Bristol SU disciplinary procedure’  put forward by Student Union Officer, Stanford. It was quickly passed with no opposition and a clear audience vote. The SU will now address discrepancies between their by-laws and the more recent Student Council Code of Conduct, passed via vote in 2016.

Stanford proposed two successful motions in his last Student Council as Union Affairs Officer | Epigram / Georgiana Scott

However, a subsequent motion for the University to ‘adopt and act on the full All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) definition of Islamophobia’ saw a debate between Khadija Meghrawi, who proposed the motion seconded by incoming Islamic Society president Hussain Abass, and the opposing Free Speech Society President Izzy Posen. While no concern was raised over the APPG definition, the Free Speech Society had an issue with the ‘wording of the motion’.

Particular concern was raised over whether the policy could prevent potentially controversial speakers from coming to campus as it asserts Muslim students would need to be consulted on an event if there is doubt as to whether it meets the motion’s criteria.

'I think the passing of this motion will go a long way to restoring the trust and faith Muslim students have in the SU.'
Khadija Meghrawi on her successful proposal

Khadija Meghrawi said in her proposing speech: ‘It’s not about stopping critical dialogue or free speech. [The motion] is actually helpful in a way that it allows it to happen without making people feel vulnerable and discriminated against.’

However, Izzy Posen responded claiming: ‘This is about whether or not the SU and certain student groups should have the power to tell other societies how they should structure their events.’

After the longest debate of the night, the motion was passed with no amendments, and speaking to Epigram, Khadija Meghrawi said: ‘I think the passing of this motion will go a long way to restoring the trust and faith Muslim students have in the SU.’

There was long debate on whether the SU should pass the motion on defining Islamophobia | Epigram / Georgiana Scott

The meeting proceeded, with the passing of a motion to increase ‘support and advice for pregnant students and their partners’. The only amendment of the night was put forward by an audience member to ensure specific help tailored to LGBT+ students would also be provided with this motion. The amendment was accepted by proposer Graham Draper.

After a short interval, the meeting continued, however, due to the early departure of several students the council was no longer quorate. Any motions voted upon thereafter now have to be ratified at the next official meeting to become SU policy.

These motions included changing the structure of the AMM making it a ‘Brexit style indicative vote’ and supporting student societies by funding the costs of security for events rather than being deducting them from society budgets.

Overall, the evening ran smoothly with a friendly atmosphere and exchange of views. The meeting was chaired by two representatives from the Democratic Standards Committee: Ife Grillo, who will be Societies Network Chair next year, and departing Student Council Chair, Zoë Backhouse, who leaves the University after five years of involvement, including being the SU Undergraduate Education Officer in 2016/17.

The motions successfully passed will now be carried through by the SU as policy for the next three years. Full details can be found on the SU website.

Motions (all passed)

Motions (no speaker, will roll over to next meeting)

Motions (not discussed)

Featured Image credit: Epigram / Georgiana Scott

Are you happy with the motions passed at this year's final Student Council?