As part of the new website updates for YUSU it has been announced that there will be a petition section. Petitions will apply to the University as well as the Student Union.
Students will be able to submit petitions and vote on others. If the petitions reach an allocated number of votes they will automatically go to the University Executive Board for discussion.
The threshold figure is yet to be confirmed, but will be based off upvotes, not down votes. The petitions that reach this threshold and are discussed will then receive a written response that will be made public. Ben Leatham, YUSU President, told Nouse that the petition system “provides a direct channel to the uni executive board”.
It is after speaking to Koen Lamberts, Vice Chancellor of the University, that it was agreed to that petitioning could apply to both the University as well as the Student Union.
Leatham continued: “I’m thrilled to announce plans to introduce a petitioning platform and would like to thank the VC for taking on board feedback about the need to listen to students in a clear and transparent way. The exact model of the platform will be developed in the new academic year and form part of wider consultation plans to address how YUSU’s policy processes can be improved to better serve students.”
The new website changes and YUSU policy reform will come into effect in August. The submission of petitions and the ability to vote on them will only be available to students.
David Duncan, University Secretary and Registrar told Nouse: “We work very closely with YUSU and the Graduate Students’ Association to ensure that the views of students are heard and are taken into account at all levels of decision making. We welcome this initiative and look forward to hearing the results of it in due course.”
The platform will be part of wider consultation plans to address how YUSU’s policy processes can be improved to better serve students.
Huddersfield University Students’ Union have a similar petition facility on their website in which petitions have been submitted on subjects such as free access to the gym for students, eliminating printing charges in the library and getting a Slush Puppy machine in the Student Union shop.
A first-year Pharmacy student at Huddersfield University told Nouse: “It has been really good having the ability to go to our Student Union website and petition for things that students really want. There is such a variety of different ideas that people have for what would make the University better and it is great to have a platform where they can be heard.”
On the Hudderfield University website it is displayed which petitions the University is working on, which ones it may make changes based on one day, and which petitions have resulted in actual changes being made at the University.
A third-year University of York student told Nouse: “It will be good to have somewhere that students can tell the University what issues are really affecting them and what changes they would like to see being made. Even if changes take a long time to happen it will bring some issues to light that can be spoken about.”
Currently several petitions associated with the University have been submitted through change.org. Already some of these have resulted in action such as the petition for lights on Walmgate Stray, in which light disks are going to be installed along the sides of the path leading to the University.