In a meeting cut short by low attendance and dominated by sustainability motions, last Thursday saw the third Students’ Union (SU) Senate of the academic year.
The meeting began with the team of Exec officers outlining their priorities from the start of the academic year, and reporting back to Senate on their progress.
Welfare Officer Deej Malik-Johnson did not report back, due to arriving late to Senate.
The largest issue on the agenda was a constitutional change that would allow the merging of the Community, Campaigns, and Citizenship Officer role and the Welfare Officer role to open up funding for the creation of a new Postgraduate Officer.
Officers told the Senate how postgraduate students often reached out, saying they “don’t see the Union as a place for them”. They also discussed last year’s unsuccessful referendum on the role of Postgraduate Officer that failed to reach the majority needed to create the role, telling attendees that the role will be different this time.
A handful of student officers raised concerns about the timing of the merger, arguing that a number of students at the University were still unaware of the role of the Exec team, and Senate, in wider university life.
The motion passed however, with an overwhelming 92% of attendees voting in favour.
However, concerns were raised over whether the newly merged Welfare and Community Officer would have “too much to do” if they were responsible for both welfare and community issues.
Officers responded by telling Senate that “welfare is in all of our remits”, and citing Manchester Metropolitan University’s new Welfare Officer, who is also responsible for community campaigns, as an example of how the transition can be made successfully.
Activities Officer Lizzy Haughton raised several motions, including encouraging the SU to implement a ‘2 for 1’ tree-planting policy, and suggesting that they should “limit the environmental impact of large SU events” such as Welcome Week.
Both motions passed with a large majority, meaning that the SU will now calculate the number of trees equivalent to the amount of paper the union use, and plant two for each one cut down.
Haughton said that she hoped the policy would be successful not only in planting new trees, but also in encouraging those at the SU to use less paper.
However, Senate was unable to vote on two further motions due to two attendees leaving Senate early, which put the total number underneath the quota of 41.
In a recent interview with The Mancunion, Abid admitted that Senate could be publicised better, telling us that “senate is not as powerful as it could be” because “students don’t engage.”
The annual members meeting (AMM), that was due to took place directly before this Senate meeting, was cancelled entirely due to the number of attendees not reaching the required threshold of 50.
The AMM functions as a break down of the Union’s finances, with SU General Secretary Fatima Abid admitting that the Union was in slight financial difficulty.
The meeting also saw the Exec Officers scrutiny reports discussed, with each officer given an overall rating out of four (with one being the lowest mark) by an independent panel, who analysed how successful their work had been so far this year.
All officers scored at least a three, and Riddi (International) and Fatima (Gen Sec) both scored four overall.
Lizzy Haughton and Deej Malik-Johnson were unable to be scored as they did not attend their meetings with the panel. Malik-Johnson had an authorised absence, and Haughton was attending a protest.
When questioned about her absence, Haughton said she was attending an Extinction Rebellion event: “I had to choose my priorities… and that was it.”
Other policies passed at Senate included a motion for the Union to support the fight for marriage equality in Northern Ireland and a motion to commit to creating more safe spaces for QTIPOC students.
Policies calling for the Student’s Union to declare official support for the Plastic Pledge, and Extinction Rebellion were not discussed due to the suspension of the meeting.
The chair confirmed that these policies would be moved to the top of the next meeting’s agenda.
It was also announced that popular Northern Quarter milkshake shop Black Milk will soon be coming to the union.
The next Senate will be held on the 7th February 2019.