February's Student Council featured Professor Chris Day to help answer some of the questions we know students have surrounding this unusual academic year.
The 30 min segment was split into two halves:
15 minutes for Chris to talk about the big issues affecting students at this time. Based on student feedback and queries, the Officers decided on the following questions.
- Why were students invited back to Newcastle in September?
- In a recent Wonkhe article, you largely agreed that student experience isn't what you intended this year. So why haven't students been offered a tuition fee refund?
- How are you working towards diminishing barriers for students accessing mental health support?
Followed by 15 minutes for Chris to answer questions from students. These included questions on tuition fees, term start dates, PG funding and graduation plans. There were too many questions to ask in the time frame so we will be collating the ones we didn’t have time for and will send them the VC and then publish the answers on the NUSU website at a later date.
If you missed the live stream you can watch it back here.
Next, on to the business of Council and the Chair took the seat.
Five motions are proposed by two students. Chloe Thompson, NUSU Ethics and Environment Rep and Metro Kieran, NUSU Commuting Students Officer took turns to have their motions heard. Chloe began with motion “To mandate the Ethics and Environment Rep to monitor the progress of Green Pledges”.
NUSU has pledged to improve their carbon footprint in a series of ‘green pledges’
- Reduce the amount of paper staff and services print by 25% End of Year 2021 / 50% End of Year 2022 / 100% End of Year 2023 in order to cut our carbon usage.
- By 2023 NUSU staff and services will become fully digital.
- Work with the University’s LED Project to fully replace all the lights in the building to LEDs and swap light switches to light sensors in every room where possible by EOY 2020.
- Complete an energy survey of the building to review power consumption in all areas (Electricity/Gas) by EOY 2021.
- Implement food waste bins throughout the building by EOY 2020.
- With the introduction of a new waste management company improve communications with all students and staff on how we can improve our recycling habits.
- Work with our 3rd party partners to reduce the amount of single-use food containers.
Students can also lobby their school, halls or course to propose a Green Pledge. Personal pledges are also welcome and an important part of changing things for the better. This motion will ensure that the green pledge initiative will continue every year even when the Ethics and Environments Officer role changes to a new student volunteer. The motion passing is good news for the environment and for NUSU in their commitment in sustainability.
“Rename Newcastle Student Radio to Metro Kieran Radio”
This motion, proposed by NUSU Commuting Students Officer, Metro Kieran, links to his 2020 election manifesto and in particular Point 9 of his Manifesto relating to Newcastle Students' Radio. Remove all other forms of transport to truly nationalize the Metro system as the only transport medium in the North East as well as replacing Newcastle Students' Radio with Metro Kieran Radio. Playing only Train related Bangers.
The motion failed and NSR remains the mighty Newcastle Student Radio.
The next motion was proposed by Chloe Thompson. Motion ‘Annual commitment to food and clothes donations at NUSU’ resolved the NUSU’s Ethics and Environment Rep to work alongside NUSU staff members to create a sustainable route for students and societies to be able to lead on donation projects and campaigns and for NUSU to adopt a policy on an annual donation campaign, led by the Ethics and Environment Rep.
A fantastic result for Chloe and people in need. This motion passed with again with 93% pass.
Back to Metro Kieran with motion “Name room after prolific alumni”. With a single resolve to Rename the MLK room to the Tim Farron Room, Kieran argued that Tim Farron is one of our most successful alumni, having previously led the Liberal Democrats in the 2017 general election and was a previous president of the SU and is deserving of recognition.
Unfortunately for Metro Kieran and Tim Farron, the room will remain as it is.
Motion failed 69%
“NUSU Official Song”
To end the motion section, we heard from Kieran for the final time. Metro Kieran wanted to immediately adopt Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! as official NUSU song, to be played at the beginning of all official NUSU events as well as lobbying the Congregations Team at the University to similarly adopt the song and replace the graduation pipe song with Venga boys. It is worth noting that Metro Kieran submitted a procedural motion to change the song to We Like to Party by the Venga Boys.
Although members enjoy the Venga boys as much as anyone it was not thought to be suitable for all NUSU events and the motion failed.
Motion failed 67%
The end of the motions and on with the order. The open debate linked to Chris Day’s visit to Council and asked “The Vice Chancellor holds frequent town hall meetings for staff to ask questions similar to the one at the beginning of council. Would you find having these frequently helpful?” It was generally felt that this is helpful, welcomed and would be enhanced in using a Town Hall style format.
If you missed the meeting you can catch up with the livestream here.
The next meeting of Student Council will take place on 18 March. If you would like to submit a motion for discussion, please submit here and the deadline for submissions is 10am on Friday 5 March. For more information on how to get involved in Council head here or email.