AN EXTRAORDINARY General Meeting was called on Friday for only the second time in three years after student societies reacted angrily to new reforms implemented by the Student Union.
The reforms, the first actions of newly elected Society Officers Carl Nuttall and Adam Stevenson, mean that societies have been forced to complete vital Health and Safety forms in six days and complete ratification in two weeks. If not they could face missing out on funding next year equivalent to £1.50 for every member.
The move of the deadline from the end of the autumn term has been defended by Nuttall and Stevenson as “having several purposes… by moving ratification to the summer term societies will receive their money sooner.”
However society heads have complained about the pressure this now puts them under, especially due to the quantity of exams in the summer term. 441 people signed a petition circulated by Adam Leith, president of Concert Band, calling for the reversal of the policies. Leith attacked the plans as “badly handled” and called for societies to show the SU “they can’t take these kinds of decisions without consultation.”
The petition forced the SU to call the meeting which 120 students attended, although this wasn’t enough to make policy change.
Nuttal and Stevenson revealed they were “surprised” at the “over the top” reaction, but admitted that “in retrospect we probably haven’t explained what we’re doing well enough to everybody. The policies have originated out of a lot of informal conversations with society chairs but there has been no formal consultation”.
Nuttall also claimed that societies which experienced difficulties with filling in the forms would “be given maximum help and support… we will be flexible and can extend deadlines.”
Speaking after the meeting, Adam Leith admitted that he was “quite disappointed” that the turnout had not been sufficient to make any amendments but said that “a lot of what we have suggested the Society Officers have taken on board. They said they are going to listen, so I guess we have to trust them.”
The bill also makes significant changes to the way societies can apply for extra funding. Previously any society with more than 40 members would qualify. However now any extra money will have to be decided by a special committee chosen by the Students’ Union.
An unnamed student writing on the Ask YUSU website argued that the reforms will “only benefit new, smaller societies, rather than larger more established ones”, showing that many concerns have not yet been addressed.