Of course, because of the national lockdown the Council members met online and from all corners of the UK and beyond. We miss the days of pizza and Luther’s chat but nothing will stop democracy!
The Chair began with Notices to Council and there were not too many but one important notice to inform the members about the annual NUSU Elections. Nominations close at midday on 4 Febraury and the Chair took the opportunity to let members know how to get more information.
Minutes and reports passed without any questions and we moved onto the State of the Union from Dorothy Chirwa, NUSU President. Dorothy reported on tough times with the virus throwing up many issues for students, she gave an overview on the incredible amount of work the Officers have untaken and are planning for the future.
Questions to the Sabbatical Officers followed and there were two questions from the floor. The first was for Sian Dickie, NUSU Education Officer, who was asked about the lack of books available online and what the SU was doing to help in this. Sian reported that she was indeed working with the library on this in having all essential reading available online. Sian encouraged students to email her directly if they are having problems with a large amount of online provision. The second question for Hannah Finney, NUSU Activities Officer, asked for confirmation on the plans for Refresher’s. Hannah confirmed that Refresher’s is being planned for February.
Officer Reports were then passed and the meeting moved onto the motions. With only two motions proposed there was more than enough time to debate and we began with 401 Motion “Lobby the University to urgently provide both financial and nonfinancial support to postgraduate research students impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic”. Proposer Sunil Rodger successfully convinced the members to agree with the motion and it passed with an amazing 100%. This means that the PG Officer has the support of Council in lobbying the University on this important matter. A good result for PG at Newcastle.
402 Motion on “NUSU to prioritise catering from local catering companies and/or suppliers” was proposed by Christopher Winter, the Chair of Council and therefore Sian Dickie, Education Officer, took over the mantle of chairing. With the small amendment of withdrawing the names of certain catering providers, the motion passed with 88%. A positive step forward in supporting local businesses in what must be the hardest of times for them.
Elections for positions selected by Council followed the motion section and all of the spaces were filled. With three students (Alexander Wang-Evans, Jack Andrew Mallinso and Shah Yaseen Ali) running for the two Scrutiny Committee places an email with election details will be sent out to members next week and the results will follow. Disciplinary Committee had two place available and two members (Alex Walker and Smruthi Venkat) nominated themselves, perfect!
Next was Student Notices and they included Ben Campbell’s (NUSU LGBT+ Officer) upcoming Pride Inside campaign, the Chair reiterated the NUSU Election information and Dorothy Chirwa encouraged members to think about nominating in the TEA’s.
The final item of the evening is always the Open Debate and this Council the topic was "What support would be helpful for student groups and activities for this semester?". With a number of ideas brought forward including campaigning with societies, GIAG sign up and thoughts on how difficult things are for all during the lockdown, this was a worthwhile debate for all students who are members of a club or society.
The end of the meeting came and a thank you from the Chair finished the business.
The next meeting of Student Council will take place on 18 February. If you would like to submit a motion for discussion, please submit here and the deadline for submissions is 10am on Friday 5 February. For more information on how to get involved in Council head here or email.