Scrutiny

Alice Fish

Scrutiny Officer

 

End of Term Report December 2018

What have I done this term?

Scrutiny Committee and I must remain confidential on a lot of things, so let me be as specifically vague as possible: Our committee was quickly filled with a capable, committed, and diverse team – I’m proud of all of them. We’ve been meeting quite regularly, I would say an average of once per fortnight. To my knowledge, this is an improvement on previous years and this is good because it means that student scrutiny of the Operations Board, that manages the day to day of NUSU, has been more regular and relevant.

I also chair Disciplinary Committee, which in theory may convene around disciplinary measures and investigations around NUSU staff, and I’m pleased that students have come to join it. However, we haven’t had any reason to meet, which is of course exactly what everyone wants to see.

I didn’t have prior experience in Scrutiny Committee, but I would say its more straightforward in practice than it seems on paper. I’m grateful for the experience of some veterans of Scrutiny Committee on the team. The most common thing we do as a team is read through the minutes of Operations Board, identify anything that may contradict policy or the will of the student body, and/or ask for more detail in certain areas. These questions go to the President and we see if we are satisfied with the response.

There was a lot to cover at the start of term. For my first scrutiny report the committee thought it was in the student interest to disseminate some of the President’s answers to our questions, such as with regard to It Happens Here. At times Scrutiny can convene to consider appeals and investigations, and everything has gone well in this regard. As Scrutiny Officer I’m satisfied with the progress being made at NUSU and the work of Operations Board.

 

What has been your biggest achievement?

I can’t go into any detail but when faced with some delicate issues we have as a committee come to considered and fair conclusions. I’m also pleased that such a strong scrutiny committee was formed quickly, and that we have convened quite regularly.

 

What could you have improved on?

There’s always room for improvement. At times, work and health has prevented me from convening Scrutiny Committee quite as much as I would have liked but I am still pleased with what we have accomplished. For similar reasons, I haven’t submitted Scrutiny Reports to council as regularly as I would have liked, however I can be certain that the scrutiny work behind these reports has been done to Scrutiny’s satisfaction and that NUSU is running effectively.

I think its important to have a good level of diversity in Scrutiny and Disciplinary Committees because in some situations it could make for a more informed decision. I had planned to add quotas before I came to the role. However, I’m glad I didn’t go down this route because it could have made it much harder to fill the committee and blocked out some valued members. In the end, there’s a good representation of the student body, if not perfect, but on balance I wouldn’t have changed anything because I’m very pleased with all the work every individual has done.

 

What do you plan to do next term?

I should have more time next semester and now I’m used to the role, so I have some interesting (I hope) plans. The main thing I want to do is run campaigning efforts with Adam the Chair of Council to increase the amount of student engagement in NUSU – this could include a “Democracy Week” campaign, question and answer sessions, and promotional materials to halls of residence and places of study. Similarly, I would also like to produce a work of literature, “The Unofficial Guide to NUSU” that manages to outline the most important areas of NUSU and how it functions, and how to get involved.

-        Jamie Cameron, Scrutiny Officer (NUSU)

 

P.S. For a bit more clarity and ease I’ll add as an appendix the scrutiny reports produced up to the time of writing:

 

NUSU Scrutiny Officer's Report (October 2018)

Scrutiny Committee met on the 10th October and reviewed the minutes of Operations Board from the 2nd July 2018 forward to the 8th October 2018.

Present: Jamie Cameron (Scrutiny Officer), Harry Parsons, Laura Staniforth, Dean Geddis, Scarlott Rowland.

Apologies: None, all present.

Scrutiny Committee raised a number of questions with the President based on minutes of Operations Board from the 2nd July to the 8th October 2018. Committee read the responses from the President and were satisfied.

In line with clause 16 of the “Strategy and Guidance Document Annexe J: The Procedure of Scrutiny Committee”, committee voted to waive confidentiality on two responses for the student interest:

  1. Sequence of events relating to GDPR and freshers fair:

President: “The ‘A4 disclaimer’ was purely an explanation to societies/clubs about GDPR. I have attached it for information. This disclaimer was sent to all leads from individual clubs and societies preceding the fair. To give a little background we had been discussing a lot the use of the new website, of our MSL system and GDPR issue in the lead up to the clubs and societies fair. While we could have had clubs and societies with email sign ups on the table (the paper format previously used) we were very conscious that it was a very open and busy space and if left, or picked up, by the wrong person could leave our students vulnerable and would violate GDPR regulation. This, coupled with more practical issues such as the space we have to hold the fair not being massively accessible (even with the early access hour) for students potentially and the crowds that often blocked the route when more popular clubs and societies had sign ups, led to the conclusion that perhaps we are thinking about the fair wrong and not utilising the software available to us.

We decided our approach this year would be no sign ups on the table, it had to be done through the MSL system on the website. This would primarily address concerns over keeping our student’s details safe, and would also mean students who couldn’t come to the fair for one reason or another could have as much opportunity to sign up to the clubs/societies as anyone who did make it down.

As you can see on the guidelines, we also suggest use of the university list system for emails which some of our societies did. Also, when requested, clubs and societies were still able to take details such as names, position played, level played at (for example in the clubs) or name, instrument, level of play (for example in societies) and Sophie tried to make this clear.

All in all, we don’t think clubs and societies will see a massive decrease in numbers signing up, in fact year on year I believe we are on par with that has been before, and I do not think there has been any detrimental damage to any either. Early anecdotal evidence also suggests that sign-ups are not down, with a popular sport initially expressing concern that they would face this, but actually ending up receiving over 100 new students at the trial.

Where there may be evidence of sign-ups being reduced however, the Union will do everything it can to ensure that the society or club does not take the impact. We want to extend our thanks to all clubs and societies for being patient and for getting on with things in an exemplary way. We don’t think we are wrong to make the change to go online, but we are aware there were significant teething issues because it was the first year of the change, and when Sophie gathers feedback from both clubs and societies on what kind of sign up system they wish to see (and hopefully improved internet connection in the new sports hall!) she can get this in place now for next year, so we can avoid all the issues that we encountered.”

  1. Events relating to It Happens Here and its membership on Changing the Culture board

President: “The University Changing the Culture project changed. Some groups and workstreams folded that IHH sat on. There is one key meeting left that Jack sits on with our DMDS (this is likely to be wider than sexual assault and cover all hate crime. There are 3 workstreams left, of which one is relevant to IHH, and Jack is suggesting they represent on it. It’s important to note that the entire role of an Officer is to provide the student voice to University meetings, by collating views from those that are relevant. Jack will continue to work with the society and other appropriate members to increase representation.”

 

Disciplinary Report for October

Disciplinary Committee had not been given cause to meet, and therefore has nothing to report.

 

 

NUSU Scrutiny Officer’s Report (November/Early December 2018)

Scrutiny Committee met on the 2nd November and reviewed the minutes of Operations Board between the 8th October 2018 to the 22nd of October 2018.

Present: Jamie Cameron (Scrutiny Officer), Harry Parsons, Laura Staniforth, Dean Geddis, Scarlott Rowland, Alex Preston, Courtney Levin, Matthew Sykes.

Apologies: None, all present.

Scrutiny was satisfied with the minutes and had nothing to report.

 

 

Scrutiny Committee met on the 30th November and reviewed the minutes of Operations Board from the 29th of October forward to the 19th November.

Present: Jamie Cameron (Scrutiny Officer), Harry Parsons, Courtney Levin, Matthew Sykes.

Apologies: Alex Preston, Dean Geddis, Laura Staniforth, Scarlett Rowland.

Scrutiny was satisfied with the minutes and had nothing to report.

 

 

Disciplinary Report for November and Early December

Disciplinary Committee had not been given cause to meet, and therefore has nothing to report.

Comments

No comments have been made. Please log in to comment.