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17th May 2019

Final Senate of the year ends abruptly

A number of key proposals such as Reclaim The Night reform among others could not be voted on and will now be considered in September
Final Senate of the year ends abruptly
Students’ Union. Credit: The Mancunion

The final Senate of the year ended abruptly last night after a number of attendees left halfway through.

Six key proposals, such as Reclaim The Night reform, could not be voted on and will now be considered in September.

Senate is the highest decision making body in the Students’ Union (SU) and operates a system of quoracy, meaning attendance must meet a threshold before anything is voted on.

The only policy of the night that was voted on by Senate related to the controversial new ResLife changes and would have bound the SU to oppose all proposed reforms.

The policy passed by 76% but not before an amendment was laid down by General Secretary Fatima Abid that effectively changed the whole motion. The amendment also passed by 72%.

Community Officer Shamima Khonat presented the amendment, which argued that the SU should not oppose ‘all’ proposed changes but instead aim for a ‘collaborative’ approach. General Secretary Fatima Abid argued that the SU would “shoot itself in the foot” if it had to oppose ‘all changes’ – as it would effectively tie the hands of the 2019/20 Exec Officer team into not being able to negotiate with the University over ResLife’s reforms for the good of students.

The SU will no longer oppose all changes, but demand that students who live in halls have “input into any and all future proposals” for changes to ResLife and “any other matters” that related to halls.

Meanwhile, during her final State of the Union address to Senate, Fatima Abid gave an update on the letter sent to the NUS Returning Officer asking to re-open elections for candidates accused of misconduct. In March, Senate held an indicative vote asking her to send such a letter.

The NUS Returning Officer rejected calls to re-open elections, due to an absence of evidence of wrongdoing. This means that all winning candidates will join the Exec Officer team as planned in the Summer.

The Scrutiny Committee also presented its report into the conduct of Executive Officers throughout the year. It noted that whilst the vast majority of officers had done a good job throughout the year, some officers lacked a basic level of professionalism in not sending apologies when declining to an interview.

It was noted that some officers were doing things that were outside of their remit and recommended that officer responsibilities should be more clearly defined and stuck to.

Other newsworthy announcements made by executive officers included the cancellation of Manchester’s student-run festival Pangaea and the relocation of the International Society back into the SU.

In the run-up to this edition of Senate, it was revealed that two Exec Officers – Women’s Officer Sara Heddi and Liberation and Access Officer Sara Khan – had not spoken to one another since Khan claimed February’s Reclaim The Night (RTN) march, organised by Heddi, was “cis-normative”.

However, as there was no time to debate and vote on the Reclaim The Night motion, it remains to be seen if the issues will be resolved before September. As Heddi leaves the SU in the summer, it remains to be seen who will defend the existing organisation of Reclaim The Night, if indeed anyone will at all.

This edition of Senate was pushed by a week from its original 9th May date, due to fears of staff burnout during celebrate week.

You can read The Mancunion’s full Senate coverage, as it happened, here.

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