Bristol University Students' Union held its AGM on Thursday 9th February, in the Anson Rooms at the Union. Did you miss it? Or just want to relive the action? Here’s a quick round up of the day’s events:
The AGM began with a presentation by the Sabbatical Officers, outlining their achievements since beginning their jobs in July last year. These included the highest amount ever raised for societies at Freshers' Fair, a cheap café in the Refectory on campus, a return to UBU approval of University halls’ rental rates, and the announcement of extended opening hours in the ASS library during the summer exam period.
Gus Baker, UBU President, also announced the return of bursaries to Bristol in 2013, at an increased rate of £2,000 for the poorest students.
After a quick question and answer session, the event was quickly moved on to the motions to be debated. With the order having been pre-decided by a priority ballot, there was 2 hours of AGM left and 28 motions to be debated.
Josephine Suherman’s motion, which won the priority ballot and was consequently debated first, was entitled ‘Bristol University should not discriminate against intelligent students from poor backgrounds’, with the aim of mandating UBU to lobby the university to properly enforce contextualised offers.
After speeches for and against, various questions were answered with Suherman concluding that ‘we all know the campus would look very different if this policy was enforced.’ Consequently the motion PASSED – with 68% for, 13% against and 20% abstaining.
Following this was a motion to introduce more flexibility to the University Sports Pass, which UBU Vice-President Sport and Health, Dom Oliver, had already announced he had been working on. With a short debate over the costs of introducing the policy, the motion PASSED with 86% in approval, 6% voting against and 8% abstaining.
Then followed a motion to repeal the controversial pro-choice policy on abortion, introduced at the Student Conference in October. Alexander Chau, the proposer, argued the focus of this policy on abortion was resulting in UBU being ‘less focussed on the more important issues.’
He was then criticised by Sophie Mew for bringing up the subject at AGM, and the motion consequently FAILED with 75% voting against, 18% in favour and 7% abstaining.
The debate then moved onto a motion proposing late night bus travel to Stoke Bishop for freshers, which met some resistance from older students worried about bearing the cost of such a service and objections from locals. The motion eventually PASSED with the narrowest vote so far; 54% in approval, 31% against and 13% abstaining.
The fifth motion, proposed by Adam Ludlow, aimed to end ‘Bristol’s silent private school bias’ through setting targets for intake of both state and private school pupils. The ensuing debate contained some controversial remarks, including Kyle Mulholland’s statement that ‘applications from state schools are low in general because state schools are terrible in general’.
However the motion eventually PASSED, in another close vote, with 56% in favour, 31% opposing the motion and 13% abstaining.
Then followed a debate over the campaign to save Bristol’s ice rink, which is due to close and possibly be replaced with student housing. After some debate over the viability of the ice rink, and the need for further student housing, the motion was PASSED fairly smoothly, with 70% in favour, 18% in opposition and 12% abstaining.
Then followed three motions that were passed through in quick succession; beginning with Eleanor Humphrey’s motion to support student parents, which met no opposition or questions and received the highest vote of the afternoon, with 93% in approval, 4% in opposition and 3% abstaining.
Motions to provide better student representation in staff appointments, and to provide a personal tutor charter to improve the tutor scheme, were PASSED with 89% and 84% approval respectively.
A further motion to devalue the Student Conference, proposing that all policy decisions made at Student Conference be repealed, sparked a debate over the usefulness of the conference. However the motion was consequently REJECTED with 56% in opposition, 20% in approval and 23% abstaining.
The following motion, entitled ‘Freedom to Swim’, argued that no other university in the country charges as much as Bristol for student entry to its swimming pool. The motion was PASSED with 91% of the AGM agreeing that UBU should be mandated to reduce this cost.
The twelfth motion appealed to the University for financial transparency with its annual accounts, however Thomas Vie opposed the motion, stating ‘I’m really struggling to see exactly why this motion is here because all this information is already available.’ After a short discussion over the usefulness of the motion, it was comfortably PASSED, with 73% in approval, 13% disagreeing and 13% abstaining.
This was followed by a motion to ban groups or ‘slates’ from UBU elections, which was PASSED in the closest vote of the day, with only 48% in agreement, 30% in opposition and 22% abstaining; resulting in an awkward moment for the current sabbatical team who were mostly elected on a group ‘slate’.
With the afternoon drawing to a close, a motion to set up a student-run fruit stall on Tyndalls Park Road, was PASSED with a majority of 69%, despite opposition from Kyle Mulholland who argued that students can ‘buy their fruit from Sainsbury’s’.
This was followed by the penultimate motion, which criticised Eduroam availability, arguing that it should be available throughout the university and not just in selected areas, and was consequently met with 66% approval.
Finally, the AGM ended on a jovial note with a motion to force UBU elected officers to wear suits every day of the week. Chris Ruff, Vice-President for Activities, then proposed an amendment to limit the dress code to Fridays only, arguing this ‘retains the hilarity of the motion but doesn’t require me to buy another suit’. This speech, and motion, was met by roaring applause when PASSED, with 64% in approval.