A Guide to Union Democracy

YUSU – despite the misleading acronym, YUSU stands for The University of York Student’s Union (York University is a university in Toronto, Canada). The union is representative of York students, including international and mature students. YUSU works closely with the GSA as well.

UGM – a Union General Meeting is a meeting of all or any members of the Union. It is basically an open door meeting held in one of the lecture halls where any student can come along and raise a motion or listen to a motion being raised by students or members of the union. These motions can then be voted on online in the week following the UGM. UGMs are generally held around 19:00 and are normally near to campus bars.

EGM – an Emergency General Meeting is an emergency called meeting, similar to a UGM, but called specifically to pass one emergency motion. These tend to be called when something is threatening to affect the student body immediately, such as the potential closure of B-Henry’s last year.

Union Council – A body of Union Executive officers (all the officers that have been elected, sabbatical officers as well as part-time officers), Board of Studies representatives and ordinary members that meets fortnightly to discuss matters of importance for students.

Hustings – A meeting in which election candidates address potential voters. Candidates deliver a prepared speech and then respond to questions from the floor.

Quorum – The minimum number of members of a society that must be present to make an election and its proceedings valid.

Exit Polls – A random sample of 100 people taken on the first day of election voting to predict the election outcome. They are revealed the evening of the actual results.

Returning Officer – Former elected official whose role is to organise and oversee the current election and voting process.

Single Transferable Vote – A system of preferential voting designed to minimise wasted votes. It initially allocates an elector’s vote to his/her preferred candidate, and then, after candidates have been elected or eliminated, transfers surplus on unused votes according to the voter’s stated preferences. This is the system used in Union elections.

YUM – University of York Media – the YUM Committee contains representatives from Nouse, York Vision, YSTV and URY.

SA – Student Action. The umbrella title for student’s working in the local community through projects organised by the Union.

RAG – Raising and Giving. All charity efforts made by YUSU come under the blanket title of RAG. There is a RAG week where the RAG committee organises charity events everyday.

JCR – Every undergraduate college has a Junior Common Room, it is not only a physical room where all undergraduate members of the college are welcome, but it also refers to the undergraduate students themselves. The JCR is essentially the undergraduate student body of a college.

JCRC – The Junior Common Room Committee is an elected body of college officials who are responsible for the running of student activities, sports, merchandise and welfare in the college. They are essentially like a small-scale version of the Union. In Halifax the JCRC is called the Halifax College Student Association.

SCR – The Senior Common Room is much smaller than the JCR and is the post-graduate student body of the college. Not all colleges have a post-graduate student body. SCRs tend to have committees but these are much smaller than their undergraduate counterparts.

GSA – the Graduate Students’ Association is the body responsible for the welfare of all graduate students. Working closely with YUSU the GSA has elected officials who offer extra support to graduate students.

ISA – the International Students’ Association is a society specifically for international students. It works for the welfare and needs of international students, particularly in offering extra support and integration.

YUSU LGBT – LGBT is a special section of the union to help provide support for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Trans students. LGBT has it’s own committee, as well as two elected YUSU executive officials. LGBT co-ordinates a large range of events as well as both political and awareness-raising campaigns.

Constitution – the union constitution can be found online at www.yusu.org and it contains the detailed rules and guidelines to union democracy and the sabbatical officers. Specific questions on the constitution can be directed to the Chair of Union Council.

Media Charter – the media charter is the guidelines by which all student media societies affiliated with the union must conform.


  1. 3 Sep ’09 at 12:07 am

    Sami-Rose Sterjon

    Can anyone make motions at UGMs?

    Reply Report

  2. No, only Jason Rose can.

    Reply Report

  3. Can I write you a new one of these? This was written about 3 years ago, and many of the things listed don’t even exist anymore.

    Reply Report

  4. @Union Chair, go for it! Please send to [email protected]

    Reply Report

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