KUSU Big Student Meeting 26th November 2013 3pm-6pm
Venue: Lawley Lecture Theatre Chair: Kathy Stanley-Quist (KSQ) KSQ opened the meeting and discussed making amendments with the attendees. KSQ then introduced Bruce Armstrong (BA) Dean of Students to give an opening speech and take questions. BA outlined how his department works closest with KUSU, focusing on pastoral support including student life and support. BA explained he hoped to deliver service where needed, on and off campuses and wants support extended across the institution with alignments ongoing. Currently the Penrhyn Road campus is centred; this is not great and needs to be changed. BA’s department hands over a cheque each month, supportive of KUSU, and BA wishes to ensure our services match each other. 1st Question: Regarding 1st year students and the delay in final timetabling. Answer: BA gave an apology to all students affected. He explained the University planned to introduce new software this year and didn’t get it right. BA said it was difficult to get everything under one system and this also clashed with the RAF. There were resource issues. The intention is to rectify the problem for next year; Academic Registry is intent on doing this. 2nd Question: Regarding issues with the RAF for part-time students, having to repeat content. Answer: BA said he could only answer in part, as he was not the best person to question on this. The RAF steering group gave a lot of consideration to addressing a balance when implementing the RAF. Their opinion was that a ‘big bang’ approach would be the least painful approach i.e. having everything changed at once. Some students have suffered as a result of this though. 3rd Question: In regards to Immigration Bill impacting students financially and in terms of accommodation. Answer: BA noted there were currently 2,500 halls places for KU students and explained that the University was looking to extend this by 1,200 more. The accommodation strategy is not just about getting a roof over student’s heads but also relates to recruitment and retention- particularly that of international students. The University will allow anyone who wants to stay in halls to stay in them. NHS charges for international students are not yet clear and have not been debated. The University is clear that it wants more international students however. 4th Question: Regarding the University reducing its number of students and becoming smaller and the relation to finance. Answer: BA said there was enough money and that the University has ensured there are sufficient funds and borrowing in order to develop sites.
BA explained the institution had grown too big and there were many complaints about the numbers in lecture rooms and labs. BA said the University would be made better by being more breathable and by attracting students of a certain calibre and retaining them. Question 5: In regards to the standard of wifi access at KU. Answer: BA said the University was investing and he had checked this with IT before attending today. There will be new wifi at KU in the new year. This will be done first in the cafes, library and learning spaces. Students will be able to download Office on up to 5 devices and this will also be made to work in halls. Question 6: Regarding 4 million worth of cuts, when margins are to remain the same. Answer: BA said the University would be able to retain margins by recognising that their income was smaller. BA gave sport as an example, saying they were looking at the way it is managed with KUSU. Question 7: Regarding a smaller, more elite institution, staff cuts and department closures. Answer: BA said he would not have anything to say on this- but he did say there were no plans to cut staff this year to his knowledge. BA did note that future empty vacancies would be looked at to see if they should be filled. Question 8: Regarding the poor quality of food in canteens and the prices. Answer: BA suggested the student contact KUSCO General Manager via the SU. Question 9: Regarding the assessment of teachers to ensure high standards at master level. Answer: BA said lecturers were checked with academic rigour and this was reassessed every 5 years, along with assessment content and delivery. BA said he could not comment on individual cases. Question 10: Regarding fire alarms in halls and information about safety of buildings. Answer: BA agreed to take the matter further to have it dealt with for the students.
Motions KSQ discussed the motion guide and democratic process with students. Motion 1: Boycott Starbucks Speech for: Nikki Sehgal (NS) NS argued that there had been no consent from students to implement Starbucks onto campuses. NS explained that it was rated the most unethical brand in the UK and commit various abuses to their workers. Question to proposer of motion: Is there more information about such abuses?
A: This is included within the motion and examples relate to worker’s rights and fair-trade agreements. Question to proposer of motion: What impact can students actually make on Starbucks? A: Firstly, do we morally want to give money to Starbucks? Also, this will work in a chain; other Universities will follow suit and an impact will be made. Question to proposer of motion: Who will the next provider be? It could be worse. It is the University’s responsibility to research more ethical companies. Proposition of amendment to the motion: Lizzie Carse (LC) LC proposes to remove resolves 2 and replace it with ‘To consider this campaign/policy when reviewing all campaign fund requests’. Speech for amendment: LC stated she supports the motion as a whole and agrees students were not consulted. LC said a process was already in place where any student could apply for campaigns funding; prioritising one campaign goes against this. It should be the same for all students. Speech against amendment: Francesca Manning (FM) FM said this was the same thing KUSU had done before: when supposed to support staff, students acting on this were told to apply for campaigns funds. Students shouldn’t have to do this every time for big issues. This is our chance to tell the University what we think. Amendment passes. Speech against motion: Nazanin Fard (NF) NF said other Universities have lots of businesses on campus and this puts them on the map and provides services. Students can decide whether to go to Starbucks or not. Speech for: Monika Pirc (MP) MP said that putting the University on the map was not a valid argument. Is it not better for students to choose an ethical University? Speech against: Saman Kay (SK) SK said we live in a capitalist society and the University should reflect this in every way. If you don’t want Starbucks, then don’t drink it. Summation: FM FM pointed out that Starbucks was rated the most unethical company therefore any other provider the University found would be better. Voting counted: For: 87 Against: 75 Abstentions: 5
Motion Passes Motion 2: Boycott Page 3 Speech for Jess Falk (JF) JF outlined that boycotting The Sun now, would make Kingston the most recent University to do this; 28 have done this so far. JF explained the No More Page 3 campaign is a nationwide campaign. This campaign is not offended by breasts but is against the normalisation of the objectification of women. Research consistently shows a link with these images and seeing women as objects. JF acknowledged that this motion would show support for the campaign- it is not an outright ban. This would be sending a message that we do not want to be associated. This motion would remove The Sun from KUSU stores but students could still bring on campus. No speech against the motion. Summation: LC: LC said she was surprised there were no speeches against but that there had been great feedback on campus to the campaign. Motion Passes Motion 3: Name Badges Speech for: Gary Stockwell (GS) GS noted that KU train 3-400 nurses each year with 50% of their time being spent in practice. Students cannot be identified by patients as nursing students do not have name badges. This motion is to bring in ID badges with name and ‘student’ written on them. Question to proposer of motion: Is this basically a request for another student ID? Yes, nursing students currently have to buy their own ID badges online. Question to proposer of motion: Is there any reason why you don’t have these? No- other universities do. Questioner to proposer of motion: Is this the same as your student ID? No, as student Ids are difficult to see and don’t name the course. Question to proposer of motion: Can you just ask your course? We have been told it is a question of money- but this is about safety. No amendments. No speech against the motion.
Summation: GS: GS said it is important for everyone at hospital to know who is treating them/their loved ones. GS noted that employees at McDonalds have name badges- but not at this intimate level of care. Motion Passes Motion 4: Immigration Bill Speech for: Denza Gonsalves (DG) DG explained that international students would have to pay for NHS charges; there would be tenancy checks and greater bureaucracy for landlords. As a result of this private landlords would only wish to house home students and we have already heard that there is not enough space in halls. This motion is for KUSU to stand against this and create petitions and submit letters to the Home Office. Proposition of amendment to the motion: Alistair Farrow (AF) AF proposed to add a new resolves 4: ‘To affiliate with the campaign against xenophobia and to publicise its events, including the upcoming national demonstration’. Speech for amendment: AF suggested KUSU should be involved in local campaigning and in the wider community. We also exist outside University. We should take a stand against xenophobia. Question to proposer of the amendment: What support should be given? Official affiliation to the campaign; KUSU should support the national demonstration and so publicise this. This can be done for free by the University screens and emails. Speech against amendment: Will Franden (WF) The amendment and the motion are two separate issues- students can put in a campaigns request. Amendment Falls No speech against the motion Summation: DG DG encouraged students to sign the petition online and do their part. Motion Passes Motion 5: Defending a Woman’s Right to Choose Speech for: FM
FM outlined why this was important and outlined the case of Savita Halappanavar, who died after being denied an abortion while miscarrying. FM said this motion as to take a stand against back alley abortions. Question to proposer of the motion: Were there actually organisations on campus? Yes, there was a group in attendance at fresher’s and they shouldn’t have been invited there. Question to proposer of the motion: Is this a limit to what can be said on campus? No, this is talking specifically about groups who intimidate women on campus. Question to proposer of the motion: Who were these particular groups, were they students? The group in question is an outside group called ‘Life’. No amendments to the motion Speech against the motion: Victor Giwa (VG) VG said people could not be banned from campus. Choice is up to an individual and is not imposed. Speech for: Phimchanok Saothongthong (PS) PS said the groups in question do not want choice and that outside groups should not tell women on campus what to do. Speech against: Shahmina Begum (SB) SB argued ‘Life’ is not anti-abortion and they offer choices with adoption and clothing. This written in their statement and this research can be done online. SB suggested people should research and both or neither opinions should be banned. Speech for: Lucas O’Neill (LO) LO said some opinions are hateful and damaging and should not be allowed. LO argued that at some point you have to say no. Speech against: Mustapha Mohammed (MM) MM said abortion is killing and suggested supporting the motion is supporting murder. MM suggested the law was making women legal murderers. Summation: FM FM noted that abortion is legal in this country and this is not what is up for debate. FM said no groups are pro-abortion as this would mean the end of the human race. FM stated she had spoken with the group in question and they were not a pro-choice group. Motion Passes
Motion 6: London Living Wage Speech for the motion: DG DG noted KUSU employs students; the Union does have financial constraints but students are entitled to a living wage. Question to the proposer of the motion: How will this be done? This motion would mean it can be taken into consideration in planning. Question to the proposer of the motion: Would this require additional funding? Yes Question to the proposer of the motion: Where will this budget come from? It would be considered in KUSUâ€™s next planning round and come from the University. No amendments No speech against Summation: DG DG said this is a basic thing to provide; it is about equality for students. Motion Passes Motion 7- London Living Wage (2) Speech for the motion: AF AF clarified this motion was separate to the first living wage motion as they contained differences. This motion is concerned with those who provide services to students. AF noted Elior have made no commitment to the London living wage. It is affordable for the University to provide staff with this wage- there are current plans to build a new Town House. The SU should support both students and staff. Question to the proposer of the motion: Why are the University saying they are a living wage employer if they are not? There is a difference between staff on salary and hourly paid staff.
Question to the proposer of the motion: How would this affect students? We use their services; we would want a freedom of information request in order to develop a campaign with all of the facts. No amendments No speech against No summation Motion Passes Motion 8- Microwaves on Campus Speech for motion: Emma Shakir (ES) ES said students do not want to spend more money on meals; they want on a choice on whether to eat from home or buy on campus. This is especially true of commuter students who could not just go home for lunch. ES explained KUSU would work with the University on this but want a short-term solution on Union sites. Question to proposer of the motion: Where would the microwaves be? KUSU premises for example shops and bars or in the office by the food store on Roehampton Vale. Question to proposer of the motion: Would students pay to use? This would need to be explored later. We will be working with Dt. George’s Union who have done this. No amendments Speech against the motion: James Mitchell (JM) JM acknowledged microwaves could be valuable but from a business perspective, the SU can’t give up incoming funds. Microwaves could be good in the future but this is not right for the current situation. Speech for: WF WF said St. George’s has seen a rise in funds since having microwaves and that the SU could sell microwavable food. Speech against: Rui Jaime (RJ) RJ noted funding had been cut for societies and this could affect funding for societies and sports. Summation: ES ES said we will get more revenue when selling microwavable food.
Motion 9- Unite Against Fascism (UAF) Speech for the motion: Nilufer Guler (NG) NG noted fascism is a real threat to KU which is a very multicultural institution. There has been an increase in racist rhetoric and discourse in the media, particularly targeting Muslim and Roma peoples. NG explained far-right groups are on the rise and in nearby Worcester Park a violent holocaust denier is standing for election. The University is not in a bubble and UAF provide resources for ‘Love Music Hate Racism’. This motion would create an anti-racist environment on campus. Question to proposer of the motion: Is this an advertisement for UAF? UAF is not for profit. Racist people exist everywhere and UAF provide good resources. Question to proposer of the motion: Will you apply for a campaign funding request? This should be a priority and yes we would request financial support. Question to proposer of the motion: Why UAF? Due to the success of the campaign; it has good links with music artists. Proposition of amendment to the motion: JM JM proposes to replace all existing resolves with: ‘To consider this campaign/policy when reviewing all campaign fund requests’. Speech for amendment: DG DG said it’s fair to other students if this is submitted to exec. Speech against amendment: AF AF said this motion is not to priority one cause over another; it is democratically taking a stance against racism. The matter is not about money. Amendment passes No speech against amended motion Summation: NG NG said the motion now took no different stance to KUSU’s current one.
Motion 10- Social Space Speech for the motion: WF WF said social space is important for every campus. Student need to engage outside of academic space and not have to pay. The University need to consider this with current campus development and make sure the SU is always consulted. Question to proposer of the motion: Define social space- a bar? It does not necessarily mean a bar. Question to proposer of the motion: What would be in the space? This would depend on what we can get and how to utilise it. No amendments No speech against Summation: WF This motion ensures the SU will discuss these plans with the University at the earliest possible stages. Motion Passes Motion 11- Wednesday Afternoons Speech for the motion: JM JM said that many students this year have had lessons on Wednesday afternoons; this puts people at a disadvantage. Wednesday afternoons should be kept free for sport and activities. Question to proposer of the motion: Will this be changed in January or next academic year? Realistically, this would be next academic year. Question to proposer of the motion: Has this actually happened to students this year? Many courses are affected by it. No amendments No speech against
Summation: JM JM said he wanted to say the same as before. Motion Passes
End of Big Student Meeting