By Eve Bentley-Hussey, SU Correspondent
The most recent Student Council meeting voted to lobby for tuition fee reduction and online tuition in the event of a lockdown.
At the digital Student Council meeting on 26 November SU Officers, Jason Palmer and David Ion proposed the motion mandating the lobbying for fee reductions by the Students' Union.
The second part of the motion proposed that the SU should adopt a position that, in the event of a lockdown, on-campus teaching should be replaced with a digital alternative where possible.
The final part of the motion proposed that whenever there is a significant change to local or national regulations the SU should consult with Networks, Course and Faculty Reps and the University's wider student body.
In the motion background, the Students' Union Officers defended the SU statement, made 2 November, requesting all teaching be put online.
They explain: ‘Bristol SU sought expert advice on how in-person teaching increased the spread of Covid. The outcome of a meeting with epidemiologist Caroline Relton was that, although the risk of spread in the classroom is very small, the movement of large numbers of students to and from campus would likely lead to increased cases. The Government’s Scientific Advisory Group has been advising that in-person teaching should move online where possible since September.’
The SU officers also recognised the backlash to their position: ‘This statement was controversial for many students for whom in-person teaching is important for their mental health, educational experience and to justify the large financial investment of undertaking a degree.’
Jason Palmer, the Students' Union Equality, Liberation and Access Officer, said that the SU will take the position that on-campus teaching should be scrapped but fee amendments should be made in accordance.
Now the motion has been passed, the SU will lobby the University to reduce fees for international students and join national lobbying of the Government to reduce tuition fees for home students.
The motion was amended, with the Student Council participating in two separate votes: voting for or against the SU to lobby for fee reductions and then voting for or against the SU stance against on-campus teaching.
Members of the Student Council raised concerns over the impact of scrapping on-campus teaching on first year students’ mental health.
Ryan Barrett, first year course rep for history joint honours, spoke of how a lot of first year students felt isolated and a complete move to online teaching would worsen this.
Harry Manocha, another first-year history course rep, called on the Students' Union for improving of the asynchronous comparative experience.
David Ion, Undergraduate Education Officer, clarified that the Students' Union wanted to replace on-campus teaching with synchronous teaching via zoom or blackboard collaborate.
During the meeting, officers also answered questions from Student Council members.
Shamar Gunning and Anna Vause, Chair of the Women’s Network and Feminist Society respectively, proposed another motion called, ‘A Better Culture of Consent at Bristol SU.’
This will introduce mandatory consent training for all society Presidents/Club Captains or designated committee members when they begin their role and ensure that there is a document of SU policy which society reps, Presidents, sports club captains and other designated members of societies can consult when students bring issues of wellbeing regarding consent.
The fourth motion passed at Student Council was on the subject of content notes.
The motion, proposed by Tiegan Bingham-Roberts and Ellie Spenceley, was to this effect: ‘Make content notes compulsory on sensitive learning materials across the University.’
Whilst some departments already practice this policy, the motion aims to centralise it to ‘stop students being ambushed by sensitive learning materials.’
All motions and amendments were passed.
Featured Image: Patrick Sullivan
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