Here’s everything that happened last week at Thursday’s Student Council
Ngl you were probably doing something better
Whether it was for the free pizza or a genuine commitment to democracy at the university, Thursday 16th November saw the first Student Council meeting of the year was full to the brim with eager participants. After a detailed explanation on the complex process of showing a ‘vote’ or ‘reject’ card when voting on the various motions of the night, it wasn’t long before the drama commenced. Creating a ‘safe environment’ and not assuming others’ genders was also emphasised for the proceedings.
Next, were some brief reports from student officers on their various departments. In traditional fashion the Sports and Development Officer, John House, ran up on stage and delivered a brief overview of the many sporting achievements of Bristol University thus far and promoting his many social media pages (his Instagram, Snapchat and of course Tinder). This was followed by a brief outline from Des Ibekwe, the Equality, Liberation and Access Officer and Mason Ammar the Undergraduate Education Officer, on their various focuses for the year.
It wasn’t long before the SU officers were held accountable in a manner that mixed Prime Ministers’ Question Time with Dragons' Den. Mason was told, in a somewhat passive aggressive tone, of his failure to fully promote the Rising Fees demonstration that took place earlier in the week. This was shut down by Mason stating that "your time is up" and his passionate claims that he did promote the demonstration to the best of his ability.
After a Geography Rep complained about the vagueness of a past motion to "fight climate change"- which has now committed the SU to supporting the nationalisation of the bulk of Britain's energy sector- a somewhat tense atmosphere was set for the rest of the proceedings . Sadly no popcorn was not provided but fireworks certainly were.
The first motion presented by Papatya O’Neilly was ‘Boycotting Barclays’ for their involvement in fossil fuel drilling, arguing for no future dealings with Barclays in the name of a ‘new sustainable future.’ In a room full of would-be revolutionaries this motion was easily passed.
The next motion was put forward by James Heale of Journalism Society/Tab infamy. In plummy tones, he argued for hustings during student council elections to give students a platform to voice opinions and policies. John House bounded onto the stage to oppose the motion, telling the crowd that "this motion is unfair for students with low confidence", articulately making his case despite his self-effacing confession that "I don’t know much about this stuff, I just play sports."
The flamboyant Archaeology course rep Morgan Black then took to the stage in a garb that one delegate described as "Captain Morgan meets Puss in Boots". In a somewhat eclectic speech he quoted Batman and urged his audience to "Face your fears, don’t be afraid, do we want strong leaders or do we want weak leaders?" After much discussion the motion was passed amended- hustings will take place but only if all candidates for each role agree to them.
The next motion presented by Lucky Dube was a change in the speaker disinvitation procedure that would give power to the SU to disinvite speakers to the university on the basis that 10 students must complain that the speaker’s presence will make them feel ‘unsafe.’ Lucky’s confident presence on stage was authoritative and to the point, continuously directing our attention to the particular actions of his very detailed motion writings. After two recounts and a nail-biting wait, the motion was not passed.
Following the interval, there was the motion of whether to continuing the boycott of the NSS (the system of grading universities bronze, silver or gold with the intention of raising their fees accordingly). Zack Muddle, the vocal left winger who proposed the motion stood for the continuation of the boycott, but the Undergraduate Education Officer Mason Ammar declared a change in "tactic rather than a change in principle," claiming that the boycott of Bristol University would not result in the abolition of a nation-wide government policy.
After a lucid oration from Luke Kosky, President of Bristol Debating Union, and an avant-garde cry from his card carrying socialist opponent about how "we must fight the Tories,’ the result was a move to stop the boycott and continue with a more tactical approach. Mason’s FIRE IN DA BOOF statement that "2+2 apparently equals 8" and a speech from a student whose T-shirt read "Nah- Rosa Parks, 1955" were further highlights and with that we were onto the fifth motion.
Plans to give student networks more powers passed with no opposition, with Union Affairs Officer Stanford greeting its ratification with the words "Big up Bristol democracy". The final motion on accommodating students of faith initially looked like it would brook no opposition, with its aim to stop major SU events like freshers fair being held on the days of Jewish and Muslim holidays.
However this being Student Council we could never take anything for granted. Some bizarre complaints were raised in opposition to the motion- that it might need to take account of Catholic Feast Days, that the UK is now a "mostly" secular society, that the motion wasn't inclusive of ALL religions.
The low point was of course the moment one rep told the Jewish proposer that "You need to decide what's important to you- your SU events or your faith?" Despite this, common sense prevailed, the motion passed and following the remaining SU officer statements, everyone went home after only three hours of debate.