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Societies and sports committees start campaign against ‘inadequate’ SU Council representation

The committees have joined forces to campaign for better representation

The Societies and Sports Committees have today launched a campaign fighting for better representation on Students' Union Council after a proposal was rejected "without due consideration".

The proposal, put forward in a council meeting last Thursday, was to create a new permanent positions on the SU Council of Societies Councillor.

A petition has now been launched to create a Societies Councillor and a Sports Councillor, both of whom would represent the diverse interests of student societies and sports clubs at a high level.

Aside from the Activities Officer, who has a wide range of other duties outside these areas, there is not currently a role on the Council dedicated to dealing with issues faced by societies and sports clubs.

With over 350 societies and 58 sports clubs within the Union, both committees have highlighted the need for an elected representative on Council to ensure that the voices of the 10,000+ members are heard.

Following the rejection of the proposal "without due consideration", the Societies’ and Sports Committees have come together to petition for a referendum on the issue.

Matt Shadrack, Chair of the Societies Committee, said: "After unsuccessfully attempting to put our proposal through SU Council, we have decided to team up with Sports Committee to make an even greater positive change within the Students' Union."

If successful, these roles will be filled by committee members who will not have specific duties on either one but will engage with relevant issues and raise them to council where appropriate.

In a statement released this morning, the Societies Committee said: “The voices of societies, committees and sports clubs are not adequately represented within the current SU Council membership.

“As a committee, we can only do so much – giving rise to the need for a society representative at the highest decision-making table.”

While some of the challenges faced by societies are around storage and room bookings, it has also been suggested that having these roles would increase influence on decision making in other areas.

In their statement, Sports Committee said: “Sports Committee works extremely hard to influence change within the sporting community by holding campaigns such as This Girl Can, Disability in Sport Week and LGBT+ ‘Play with Pride’, to encourage inclusivity and participation in sport.

“On Thursday night the opportunity was missed to support the interests of societies and in turn open doors for further representation of other Working Committees.

“It is for this reason that Sports Committee have decided to work with Societies’ Committee in order to fight for better representation.”

In order to be put to a campus-wide referendum, the petition will need to collect 1000 upvotes.

Students are being encouraged to express their opinions to their relevant councillor, and to upvote the proposal to petition for a referendum.

Cecilia Hudson-Molinaro, Activities Officer of Sheffield Students' Union, said: "After the first stage proposal for a societies councillor did not pass at SU council last Thursday, students from societies committee and sports committee have teamed up to campaign for what could be an important change for the way students are represented in our Students' Union.

"Wasting no time, the campaign was launched at 10am Monday morning and within 45 mins the petition for a referendum had reached 10 per cent of up-votes. Although the Students' Union is currently undergoing an important democracy review, it is great to see students getting engaged from a grassroots level, wanting to shape the way their SU focuses on student involvement.

"This movement provides valuable evidence that will help develop the review of council."

The petition and full proposal can be found here.