By Eve Bentley-Hussey, SU Correspondent
A Student Council vote has been passed mandating the SU to work with the University to produce documents showing how student fees are spent.
Following the final student council of the year, the passed motion now requires the SU ‘to work with their University counterparts to increase transparency about University and departmental spending’.
The results of the vote were provided today after motions were put forward last Thursday, 18th June – given that the event took place digitally, the voting was counted up over the weekend after the SU cross-referenced eligible voters.
A motion calling for the introduction of a full-time SU BAME Officer was also passed.
Proposed by students Tochi Ejimofo and Murli Mahesh, the motion calling for 'full transparency' asked for 'a document to be produced, either annually or quarterly, showing where student fees are being spent'.
When proposing the motion last week, Ejimofo said: ‘We need to be able to have a sheet that we can look at that states what our money is being spent on.’
Two amendments were made to the motion, the first of which called for the Undergraduate and Postgraduate Officers to lobby the University to outline all sources of income.
This followed concerns raised by one attendant of the 135-strong Council meeting, conducted over Zoom last Thursday, that departmental spending was not as linked to student’s tuition fees as originally assumed.
Another amendment called on the SU to release a document that shows its expenditures too.
Ejimofo agreed to both amendments at the Student Council meeting, stating: ‘This way students will be able to advocate change.’
The first ever virtual Student Council happened last Thursday, and the results are now in 🗳️ We're glad to see our student leaders still engaging in democracy from afar 🙋— Bristol SU (@Bristol_SU) June 23, 2020
You can see how students voted and what motions have passed >> https://t.co/wOauFNWapa pic.twitter.com/gSWIIjCYu3
Last month, the SU outlined nine areas they were seeking to lobby the University for.
These included assurances that students struggling financially as a result of the pandemic will be supported, the provision of accommodation and rent for students that can't afford it and wellbeing support.
Following the passing of today's motion, a Bristol SU spokesperson said the SU 'is still in discussion with the University about how best to communicate these issues with the student body as a whole'.
They added: 'The outgoing SU officer team articulated a list of priorities for next year based on feedback received from hundreds of students during lockdown.
'It is encouraging that those priorities lined up with what students put forward in this motion, and as with any passed policy the new officer team will work, in collaboration with the proposers, to deliver the details of this motion via their work on this issue in future.'
A University of Bristol spokesperson said: 'Coming to University is a significant financial undertaking so it’s important that students know exactly where and how their tuition fees are used and that their course offers good value for money.
'We already have some information on our website but are committed to working with the Students’ Union following today’s vote to look at ways this can be improved and better publicised.'
Other motions that were passed today included:
- Harm Reduction Approach to Alcohol and Other Drugs
- Introducing a Full Time BAME Officer
- Proposal for the formation of a Black Student’s Network
- Changing our language to embrace body positivity
- PG network: New year, new Chairs
- Supporting Student Sex Workers
- Bristol SU to run an official Global Health Shortcourse
The SU have explained that, similar to the motion that brought in an International Students' Officer in 2018, the wording of the motion to introduce a full-time BAME Officer 'does not specify' precisely where the funding will come from, to allow 'Officers, students and other representatives more flexibility to achieve the aim'.
Of the nine total motions, the only one not to pass called for the SU to introduce mechanisms to ensure the Winston Theatre could not be block-booked.
Featured: Epigram / Patrick Sullivan
Would you like to see greater transparency over how student fees are spent?