YUSU have initiated a change in their policy with the aim of becoming more transparent and responsive. Millie Beach, YUSU president, included such a revision in her manifesto seeing the review as an opportunity to seek out “how we continually improve to ensure that students remain at the heart of YUSU.
“It is important that Union processes for making change and agreeing policy are as simple, transparent, representative and as engaging as possible.
“The review will give students an opportunity to share their views on the policy system and let us know how it can better meet their needs.”
A review into democratic process and engagement will re-evaluate current policy process to develop a framework that works to a higher and more efficient standard. In turn, this aims to make YUSU more representative of the student body.
YUSU are encouraging student groups involving academic reps, colleges and societies to attend focus groups in order to raise their involvement in the process.
Beach hopes that “students will take the opportunity to get involved and let us know how they want to be represented and they want decisions to be made.”
The recent initiative of ‘Question of The Month’ also aims to ensure that student voices are heard, endeavouring to make a more impactful difference to student life based on the feedback such surveys provide. This will continue throughout the year and maintain the contact between students and YUSU.
This month centres student’s desire to make their democratic voices heard, and which positions are currently the most effective at representing them.
Concerns have been raised that there is currently only one body in position to analyse the actions of YUSU.
The policy review group is made up of individuals who are interviewed and appointed to scrutinise YUSU proposals and policies.
Member James Humpish, concurs: “It’s important that YUSU’s policy structure reflects the genuine interests of the student body while also being as accessible as possible.
“It might be that as the review progresses we find that the student body is happy with the current process, but every once in a while it’s worth checking that is the case. Any proposed alternative would be subject to a student-wide vote and would hopefully tie in with the officer elections in February.”
Naturally it could be the case that students are not so dissatisfied with current processes. But the democracy review looks to use the data collected at the end of the term to convene an Officer Question Time. This will allow students full disclosure on the findings and the effect such research might have on democratic procedures or future proposals.
Following this a referendum will be held in the second term involving the entirety of the student body. The last referendum to be held was on whether York should remain a member of the NUS. The interest sparked by this issue indicates the potential of student involvement.
A dedicated mini-site hopes to condense all information in relation to the review. This will allow students readily available and more accessible data capture.
As a consequence, non-time-sensitive policy ideas have been set back to second term so that in the short term the YUSU staff can focus on all consultation work with a mind to making the necessary changes to democratic processes within the union.