CUSU COUNCIL: Homerton bus, the NUS and elections (again)
CUSU restores our faith in democracy (if democracy only takes 34 minutes)
In Amatey’s first outing as CUSU Pres, the biggest shock was how quickly CUSU Council was over.
Your poor Tab hacks dragged ourselves away from the first onslaught of essays and supervision sheets to attend the first of the two Michaelmas CUSU Councils. We sacrificed our time and sanity mainly to make sure that CUSU didn’t try and sneak a motion past Council in the same way Priscilla got the class lists motion passed last year without releasing the agenda until after the meeting (#accountability, amirite).
We have to admit that despite the usual horrifyingly boring preliminaries (the first few items on the agenda were the fascinating concerns over where the next meeting will be and whether the previous minutes are accurate), the meeting itself was well run, quick and fairly effective.
Our hearts sank when the meeting began with a typically CUSU incident; the Queens’ JCR representative asked why their welfare officers were unable to get condoms, only to be told that CUSU had changed receptionist, so the orders got lost (we’d have asked more, but the Staff-Student Protocol prevents this).
Two items were notably not mentioned by absolutely anybody. First, the petition for the referendum on class lists. Amatey told us that it was unclear when the petition was submitted, although he believed this could not happen until after the Elections’ Committee was appointed (which happened tonight). Correspondence between Jemma Stewart, the previous CUSU Coordinator and the Save the Class Lists’ Campaign suggests that the clock began ticking at the beginning of full term and the referendum must be held before October 24.
What also passed without a mention was the recent re-emergence of TCS as a print newspaper. Despite CUSU Council voting last year to kill the print edition, in what was described as a “frankly disgusting” move, TCS has moved to a fortnightly print edition with sponsorship from various Cambridge companies. It’s not clear how this has happened or who has approved the new print edition, but CUSU Council certainly didn’t get any say over it today. We must say we’re glad that the will of the people (as expressed in our highly scientific and accurate Tab poll) has been followed.
The non-attendance from the three autonomous campaigns who don’t have paid sabbatical representation – LGBT+, BME and International – prompted a question about “How you might coerce” the autonomous campaigns to turn up. Must say, the whole question of why these campaigns – who get funding from CUSU – seem to think they are above any kind of accountability is a good one.
The move onto substantive motions was also the moment at which CUSU Council finally (finally!) stopped being a place where we wanted to plug our ears with cotton wool. Amatey’s motion to move the election of NUS delegates to Michaelmas, in response to the “post-referendum world we’re in” and to increase the ability of delegates to engage with the students they represent shows that CUSU is taking the imperative to change their engagement with the NUS seriously. It passed unanimously. He also mentioned he was planning to run consultations with Jewish students.
The motion to stop the Uni4 bus service cutting off Homerton also passed. The only amendment to the new Disabled Students’ Officer Jess Wing’s motion, which she opened by saying ““The Uni4 has recently been changed to the Universal bus service, which is ironic because it now cuts out 1/10 of the student population”, was an amendment by the Homerton JCR President, noting that neither the staff nor the student body was consulted before the decision.
Elections of the new CUSU Chair and Elections Committee was notable only for the amount of keen and (one might say mistakenly) optimistic freshers’ who stood, one saying they passionately believe in CUSU. We understand how one might apathetically believe in CUSU, but passion isn’t normally an emotion it inspires.
It’s a testament to Amatey’s chairing, and also perhaps to the fact that it’s only the beginning of the year and students are still finding their feet, that the meeting only lasted for 34 minutes. That said, CUSU Council’s motions were effective; the bus motion especially will be welcomed by Homerton students. Considering we attended (and liveblogged) the four-hour CUSU Council Meeting last year, we certainly appreciated the brevity.
If it’s true that it’s not the length, but what you do with it, that matters, CUSU Council is off to a pretty good start this year.