The second and final Union General Meeting (UGM) of the term saw two opposing motions tabled over the way YUSU should be mandated to handle to recent bill raising the cap on tuition fees.
The first motion, proposed by Peter Spence, argued that YUSU should take a neutral stance on tuition fees because only “400 members of the union attended the recent demonstration”. He argued that, “YUSU should be more inward looking” concentrating on issues of welfare and equality, rather than the campaign against the rise in fees.
The conflicting motion was proposed by Luke Sandford, YUSU Campaigns Officer, who argued that the Union should “oppose any increase in university tuition fees” and to “actively campaign against cuts to higher and further education funding.” Sandford stated that it was important to have a position on this issue and this motion would “re-state YUSU’s stance” even though MPs voted for the government’s motion in the House of Commons last week.
If both passed, Dan Walker, YUSU Democracy and Services Officer, stated that, “an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) would be called.”
Overall, there were nine motions put forward at the meeting. A proposal to make UGM meetings and voting more transparent and democratic by publishing all of the speeches and arguments and not just the opening speeches was proposed by YUM Chair, Chris Young. It was acknowledged that considerably more people vote on the website than attend the UGMs in person and therefore, with only the two opening speeches currently available when voting, not all the arguments will be heard.
Other heavily debated motions were whether YUSU should support the NUS “Right to Recall” campaign. Questions were raised over whether the campaign was politically motivated and clearly targetting the Liberal Democrats, thus jeopardising YUSU’s position as a politically neutral body. However, those in favour stated that the NUS campaign is against future legislation that affects all parties. Dan Walker agreed to convene the rules and revisions committee to deem whether the motion was unconstitutional in its explicit naming of Lib Dems.
Addressing YUM representation on council, Chris Young, YUM Chair, described the large number of unique hits all of the media societies receive on their websites each month and therefore their greater ability to cover and debate Union activities than YUSU meetings, such as the UGM.
Young also argued that the media charter, which ensures York media’s freedoms, can be changed at council because it is a by-law and therefore this necesitates a representative from the media societies.
However, Dan Walker questioned the point of YUM having a seat on council ahead of other societies and whether what they discussed warranted a representative being there.
Other motions included lobbying the University to provide a common room specific to the International Student Association (ISA), to condemn the violence at the Demolition march on 11th November and to lobby the University to affiliate with the Workers Right Consortium.
Voting opens on Monday and all students who wish to cast their vote should visit the YUSU website http://www.yusu.org/democracy/voting