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Manchester Students’ Union May Senate: As it happened

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Hello and welcome to The Mancunion‘s May Senate Liveblog.

Senate is the highest decision-making body in the SU and we’ll be here to bring you all the news as it happens.

On the agenda tonight we have: Reclaim The Night reform, plans to oppose ResLife, potential changes to joint degrees, and a motion proposing more support for BME students amongst others.

It could be a controversial one, an amendment to the ResLife bill could effectively change the whole motion if passed. The amendment is proposed by Fatima Abid, General Secretary which could prove to be her lasting influence on UoM as she leaves in Summer. The Mancunion understands that Community Officer Shamima Khonat could present it.

Stay with us and catch all our updates below.

Mobile users can view the updates on our Twitter page.

7:48 pm

Ethan Davies

Early end

Quoracy has now dropped below the required the threshold. Looks like we’re finished for the night, with undiscussed policies being transferred to the next Senate in September.

Previously, Senate has dragged students off the street to hit quoracy, but we’re so far off the target there’s not much point.

Emmet Cleaver, who organises Senate, delivers some thank yous to finish. He also indicates some changes will be made in Senate’s running, including moving the Part Time Officer elections to March rather than November.

The high of the ice lollies has been crushed by this cruel, cruel blow.

Thanks for reading this year, everyone. It’s a shame to end like this in what’s been such a dramatic year – new postgrad officer, clap-gate, The Mancunion’s editorial independence, and ResLife changes.

Hopefully, 2019/20 will be just as exciting, but better attended.

7:36 pm

Ethan Davies

ResLife reform vote

The results are in – the policy passes with the amendment, gaining 76% support.

We now have a short break. There are ice lollies!

7:29 pm

Ethan Davies

ResLife reform motion debate

Now we have the weird situation whereby the original proposers are putting forward a motion which they didn’t really intend for, as it’s changed so much.

Anyway, Boddy and Softic (the other proposer, Hulme and Burkhardt Hall JCR Chair) argue the ResLife changes put the new Residential Life Advisors (RLAs) under way too much pressure to deal with mental health concerns.

He adds that he believes the full-time RLAs will also become so unpopular that it’ll alienate all students from the pastoral care system.

Senate members seem to like this policy, and encourage others to vote in favour of it.

After a bit more back-and-forth, including some from incoming General Secretary Kwame Kwarteng, we move to a vote.

7:26 pm

Ethan Davies

ResLife reform amendment result

Results are in for the amendment – it’s passed with 72% of the vote.

We now move on to debating the policy itself.

7:12 pm

Ethan Davies

ResLife reform debate

We’re finally on to policy debate!

First up is the ResLife proposal, namely the SU’s amendment. Shamima Khonat presents the amendment which effectively alters the motion from blocking ‘any changes’ to ResLife to ‘consulting University’ about those changes.

Not sure what we’re on about? You can read the full story here.

This prompts opposition from motion-propser Robert Boddy, chair of St Anselm Hall JCR, which leads to Fatima Abid defending the amendment.

Boddy believes that a consultation with the Uni opens the door to the Union being ignored, whereas a wholesale block sends a clearer message.

Khonat responds by saying that it’s unrepresentative for the current JCR members to block changes for future students.

Abid adds: “I fully believe we are shooting ourselves in the foot with these resolutions [unamended]. We’re putting ourselves in a box and the Uni will exploit that”.

 

7:09 pm

Ethan Davies

Deej’s Absence Questioned

A member of Senate asks why Deej Malik-Johnson has not faced a vote of no confidence from the Scrutiny Committee (which would effectively sack him).

The reply is that the committee haven’t had the chance to discuss that due to elections controversy, and since it’s near the end of the year there’s not much point in doing so.

The Senate member in question then advises the Scrutiny panel do so just for the record.

6:57 pm

Ethan Davies

Officer Scrutiny Reports

It’s time for the Scrutiny reports – these people keep the Exec in check.

The Scrutiny Chair highlighted the lack of action from the Welfare Officer has meant other Officers have had to pick up their work – they recommend reforms are brought in to avoid one Officer being burdened with another’s work alone.

Other Officers have gone through the whole year without a proper scrutiny committee – they again recommend reforms for Part Time Officers, for their elections to be moved closer to Exec elections so the handover is smoother.

The committee praise Fatima, getting a 4 (the highest possible score), as well as Olivia Meisl, Riddi Viswanathan, and Sara Khan.

Shamima Khonat receives a 3, as her committee has not met once this year.

The other Officers did not face a scrutiny report. The lack of apologies from Deej Malik-Johnson was described as “the minimum level of professionalism” by the Scrutiny Committee Chair.

6:50 pm

Ethan Davies

NUS Conference

NUS delegates provide some insight to the NUS Conference, which Hamza Sheik says in £3 million in debt.

He also believes Manchester SU does not need the NUS, a view shared by Fatima Abid. Riddi Viswanathan asks Sheik his reasoning for saying that.

He says it’s because the NUS does not help “average students”.

“As long as our Students’ Union is well-maintained, that’s the priority”.

6:39 pm

Ethan Davies

Officer Progress Reports

Fatima Abid also provides an update on the Greater Manchester Student Assembly (GMSA) – she says she’s held a positive meeting with Andy Burnham on the plans, with Burnham even saying he’ll attend all GMSA meetings, with relevant Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) staff along with him.

Abid is also planning on hosting a reception for all the newly-elected Mancunian SU officers.

Lizzy Haughton confirms Pangaea is going, as we reported earlier today, but also indicates there’ll be a new student-run festival for next year with a different name and format.

She’s also planning for next year, her second and final year as Activities and Development Officer.

Riddi Viswanathan, International Students’ Officer gives us her final progress report as it’s the last Senate she’ll attend.

She reveals that the University’s finance committee have committed to reducing international placement year tuition fee from 50% to 20% from September 2020.

“This is a major win for the SU and I hope this measure will encourage more students to go on placements thereby bridging attainment gap”, she adds.

As she leaves the SU in June, she also is planning a handover for her successor, Jake Garrett.

Shamima Khonat, Sara Heddi, Olivia Meisl have sent their apologies on to Senate so there’s no report from them. That effectively means there’s no final Officer progress report for Sara Heddi as she was to provide a verbal report.

Deej Malik-Johnson, Welfare Officer, has not arrived but has not sent apologies.

Sara Khan then takes the stage, highlighting some work with the NUS, as well as stuff on LGBT survey, decolonise, and SU accessibility. Gender neutral toilets are also on Khan’s agenda: “I have been working with the part-time Trans Officers to lobby for better gender neutral toilet provision this semester. We met with Michelle Harper of the Estates team, and with Patrick Johnson, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion”.

“We are continuing to lobby for this model to be adopted and publicly supported by EDI and Estates for all new builds and refurbishments”.

Sara is the last officer to deliver a progress report.

6:28 pm

Ethan Davies

State of the Union & Exec Officer Elections

Fatima Abid gives a brief address on the state of the SU.

It looks like the SU is getting a Chango’s burrito place.

More interestingly (or not, depending on your view), she also provides an update on the letter given to the NUS Returning Officer for the Exec Elections following a Senate vote to do so.

The Returning Officer rejected Senate’s calls to re-open the elections, meaning all winning candidates will start as planned in the Summer.

This will come as a big blow to those who believed candidates accused of ‘cheating’ in the elections should be stripped of their wins – their last hope is to no-confidence those Officers in September Senate.

6:25 pm

Ethan Davies

Steering

And we’re off!

First off, it’s the Steering Committee Report – small surprise it that “The committee rejected the following policy ‘The SU should exonerate the wining candidates from any wrongdoing in the election’.

“The Committee noted that the proposer provided no evidence to back their claims that officers-elect are innocent of any alleged wrong doing.

“With that the Committee sighted 31. C of the Senate bye-laws, sight that the policy was ‘unclear as to be meaningless or ineffectual’.”

6:20 pm

Ethan Davies

We’ve hit quoracy!

Great news people. We’ve now got enough people to have a meeting. Now, the fun begins.

6:17 pm

Ethan Davies

Meeting slightly less in doubt

We now only need TWO more people to arrive before 6.20pm for the meeting to go ahead.

Remember, this was pushed back into the exam period to avoid staff burnout last week following celebrate week at the SU…

6:10 pm

Ethan Davies

Meeting in doubt

The first problem we’ve encountered is actually getting enough to people to attend – five more people need to show before 6.20pm in order for the meeting to go ahead

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