LIVEBLOG: CUSU Super Council
Broken budgets, new trustees and NUS affiliation all on the table
It’s that time of the year again, as CUSU hold it’s super council.
What makes this council so super? Well, it’s the last one of the academic year, lasts for hours, and is when CUSU takes the time to deal with the giant backlog of stuff it probably should’ve sorted out earlier.
On the table will be the autopsy of the CUSU budget, where miffed JCR presidents will be asked to ratify a 5 figure deficit on the CUSU books. The budget took up much of the council’s time at the last council, and having taken the time to digest the colossal mess of the budget itself, JCR members will surely have some pretty penetrating questions to ask.
Additionally, on the agenda is a motion to further increase the size of the CUSU board of trustees. Among the potential new additions is Pembroke JPC Vice-president Helen Jennings. Why anyone would want to join CUSU’s new austerity cabinet is a mystery to us.
Finally, it’s time to vote on NUS membership again. Outgoing president Malia Bouattia has been subject to continuous criticism for what have been described as open anti semitic statements. On the bright side the new president appears less nasty. It’s a near inevitability that the council will vote to remain a member, but with the recent political upsets this year, we shouldn’t rule anything out.
- Council votes to remain a member of the NUS, despite discontent over fee increases
- Enquiry into the failure of the CUSU budget set up
- Additional trustees are appointed to a expanded board
- CUSU has signed a new publishing contract which nets them an additional £60,000, helping fill the hole in the budget.
- The budget passes unanimously
The Council kicks off with the relevant CUSU Sabbs giving us their recent diary entries. It’s all pretty bland, although Eurovision gets a mention from the LGBT+ campaign.
The first motion of the day aims to fund a society for male sexual abuse survivors. According to the speaker, there’s a dearth of resources for male survivors.
The motion passes unanimously. Now we move on to amendments to the women’s campaigns constitution, with the aim of increasing access to non-binary members.
Again, it passes unanimously. It wasn’t exactly clear what changes were, but in honesty, it’s hardly a huge matter. Now something slightly juicier. Cambridge Humanities Review is looking for funding from CUSU. It’s a platform for students to publish academic material, but last time CUSU canned a publication, it got pretty ugly. This might be interesting.
Amatey pipes up, looking to make an amendment. An as per usual, it’s friendly. Not entirely sure on the subject matter though, Amatey really has a way of confusing you with words. A true politician.
Someone asks how much money is left in the CUSU kitty. Just over £2000 left. Money seems to be a pretty touchy subject here, and that’s understandable.
One council member feels the money just shouldn’t be spent there. It seems the motion has failed. Yet another publication gets eaten by the CUSU monster, a pity.
Now onto a motion to discuss an Extraordinary NUS Conference. Speaking in favour of the motion Cambridge NUS delegate describes the factional nature of the debate at the conference.
Will there be by-elections for new NUS delegates in the event of an extra conference? No one seems to know. Additionally the speaker describes CUSU’s vote as ‘not crucial’. The futility of a single vote in a nutshell…
The motion passes, although there are a significant number of abstentions, perhaps because no one has a clue what’s going on. Either way, we’ll be voting for an Extraordinary NUS Conference.
NUS VOTE TIME. Given the previous motion just passed, this really seems a formality now, as Amatey points out. He hopes that feelings of frustration towards the NUS’s perceived anti-semitism have been ‘reset’ by the recent elections. There is the question of the massive increase in affiliation fees, although NUS extra cards should still turn a profit.
One council member asks for a consultation period on NUS membership before the council. It seems they’re after a review of all the bile that’s come out of the NUS annually. I would certainly not want to liveblog that meeting.
Up comes the issue of the affiliation fee rise, with a council member asking for an explanation of the 20-fold increase within a single year. Amatey says the ‘block grant has been recalculated.’ While we make a net gain on membership though NUS extra card sales, it’s still another bite into an already overburdened budget.
Several members have asked why there’s been such a staggering increase in membership fees. Fees went up last summer, and Mark McCormack claims CUSU weren’t formally notified by the NUS of the rise. Maybe the emails in the spam folder?
The motion passes. For now, we’ll be staying in the NUS, as the council votes unanimously in favour.
There’s a quick motion to increase the the CUSU trustee board size. Moving on, the council begins to debate the motion to appoint three external trustees to the board.
Gareth Richard’s, Hachimi Maiga and Hannah Thackwray are all appointed trustees.
Now onto the motion to appoint student Trustees. Amatey emphasises the breadth of experience the appointees have. In all honesty George Osbourne couldn’t sort out the budget in it’s current state (although he could edit the Tab).
As expected, the motion passes.
Perhaps the funnest motion of the night, CUSU looks to ‘have it’s cake an eat it’. The new programme involves sending Sabbs to colleges to hang out with us mere mortals and eat cake. Pembroke JPC President Oliver Hulme asks just how many they expect to turn up to the events. Perhaps less than Wednesday night Life in May Oliver..
The motion passes, and as such another slice (Ha) of the CUSU budget will be spent on cake. If it’s a Caterpillar cake, I’ll be down.
After a rather pointless motion regarding the Graduate Union, the council moves on to a motion to ‘Adopt the Recommendations from the NUS Report into the experiences of Jewish students’. Given recent news on the Christ’s anti-semitism cover up last term, and the spike in anti-semitic graffiti last term, this is an important one, although I wouldn’t ask the NUS how to deal with anti-semitism.
A representative from J-Soc elaborates on the issues Jewish students face. he describes colleges as being ‘deliberately belligerent’ when it comes to making kitchens available to Jewish students from colleges lacking Kosher services in hall. Additionally there’s a myriad of issues with the exam timetabling coinciding with Jewish festivals.
The motion passes unanimously. Now the representative from Wolfson takes the floor, presenting a motion to create an Enquiry Committee on CUSU’s financial losses. He wants to discover the true reason for the cost losses. CUSU have changed their story twice on the issue of losses, from the vague concept of ‘slippage’ to the reality that the money was never going to arrive.
The Wolfson representative tells the council it’s not an exercise in blaming single people. It seems that no one really will be held accountable for the massive losses involved in the recent budget.
The proposed enquiry committee would preferably not include Sabbatical officers, although there is potentially space for them. It’s all pretty vague at the moment.
A committee member brings up the staff-student protocol, which bans almost any criticism 0f the CUSU executive in public. In theory the enquiry would be hampered by the protocol, and it doesn’t seem to be in the councils power to override it.
The Council is getting bogged down in the technicality of the issue of setting up a committee. Finally someone brings up whether the CUSU council can overrule the Staff-Student Protocol. Mark McCormack explains that it’s not in the ethos of the students union to use said protocol, but that it may be ‘unavoidable’.
A new trustee to the board suggests more dialogue between the trustees and the Council. In effect, unless the Council can override the Staff-Student Protocol, there isn’t much meat to this motion. If they can, it could be ground breaking in terms of accountability within the organisation.
‘If the Staff-Student Protocol was made in the fires of the Trustee Board, only their can it be unmade’. Is that a Lord of the Rings reference? Either way, we know who Sauron is here…
‘This is the second year that the budgeting process has done damage to the organisations credibility… because student representatives haven’t been involved in the drafting process’ says a council member.
Incoming president Daisy Eyre suggests that this might not be the way to do things, while other committee members suggest the motion is rushed and vague. Here comes the vote..
There will be a committee set up. What it will consist of isn’t clear yet, but it will definitely exist. It is something…
‘An amendment to the amendment’ Everyone groans. The committee will be set up this Michaelmas, and members will be voted on by the council.
After a gruelling session of amendments and debate, the motion passes. There will be an enquiry into the CUSU budgetary failures. Potentially a new dawn for CUSU, but far more likely to hampered by the Staff-Student Protocol.
Onto the budget. There’s some good news at last. CUSU made an overpayment on VAT and as such will be receiving some cash back. Additionally, having signed a new contract with St James Publishing House, and will receive £60,000.
‘If students want CUSU to live within it’s means, then it will’ Amatey goes on to say massive staff cuts will happen if the deficit cannot be resolved. Austeratey is born.
Wolfson’s Students Union President points out that some of the income on the budget is speculative and hardly set in stone. Hopefully there’s no slippage…
Mark McCormack explains that the proposed income stream comes with costs in itself, and that the proposal itself is ‘commercially sensitive’. Other options are being explored.
While budding students journalists from the Tab and Varsity alike are grilling Amatey on matters regarding the inconsistency of his story, a procedural motion is put forth to move straight to a vote. It seems even the council want to gag the press…
At any rate, the budget passes, and the council ends. Things aren’t quite as bad as they seem. Any news is good news in 2017. Goodbye.