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To Tree or not to Tree, that is the question!

Find out why planting a tree was such a hot topic at Novembers Student Council!

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Second Student Council of the year did not disappoint! A council session that surprised all when one motion sparked more discussion than many expected.

Welcome, Elections and State of Union

Council started with a warm welcome from the Chair Haaris Qureshi and a reminder of the new process of interacting in council with the new blended approach now being in place. 

Elections for the position of Marginalised Genders officer (fourth times the charm) were then held with nominations opened to the floor. 

1 nomination was received from Nathan Hartley and with no objections they were duly elected to the role. Congratulation Nathan!

If you want to learn more about Nathan and see what their aims for the year are please visit here.

President Abbie Hutchinson joining Council virtually lifted everyone’s spirits with an upbeat State of Union address reminding all those struggling with their mental health that they are not alone, and it is a big issue in the current times. If you want to watch the full address you can find it here.

 

The Motions

Up first for debate was Motion 401 “To mandate the Sabbatical Officers to investigate Newcastle University’s hiring practices and for the creation of the NUSU modern slavery policy”

The motion was presented by Alex Walker to discover that Newcastle University was adhering to UK hiring practices and Law in its work with the Confucius Institute. With only two questions and no arguments FOR or Against the motion we went straight to the vote.

Resolved by 71% votes for 29% against to accept the motion (3 abstentions)

With most believing the night now almost over (boy they were wrong) we moved onto our final motion of this council. 

 

Motion 402 “The Queen’s Green Canopy”

Elliot Kirkpatrick presented the motion explaining that as part of the Queen Platinum jubilee she has instituted 'The Queen's Green Canopy initiative, for people to plant a tree in honour of the event.

This is where council got heated with strong views from both sides of the augment coming quick and fast. 

Those AGAINST were arguing that the planting of a tree for the Queen who represents the institution of the monarchy which is associated with historic racism. Goes against everything we are doing as a Union/Uni to decolonise the curriculum and University. That the University is made up of many international students not just British students. We are trying to decolonise, and the Queen is the image of colonisation. There were also arguments that planting one tree was negligible and that the motion was more about getting a plaque for the Queen. 

Those FOR augured that we don’t have to plant just 1 tree, no reason why the tree has to be alone, could plant many in names for different people/representation and start a trend. Some people support the Monarchy and a recent poll said the majority of public including students were in favour of the Monarchy. Also, that there a lot of people are pro monarchy, whether they come from previously colonised states or not. The Queen oversaw a time where the empire came to an end, and thats something we should be proud of. The tree is for the community not just for the Queen.

Just as the discussion was reaching a crescendo council was rocketed by a Procedural Motion Amendment submitted by George Wood. To remove all references to Queens’ Green Canopy from the motion to simply investigate the feasibility of planting more trees on campus. The chair on considering the procedural motion decided that the amendment did not substantially alter the motion so allowed it. 

As Elliot Kirkpatrick the original motion proposer did not accept the amendment this created a whole new debate on whether to accept the motion and went down to a vote.

Resolved by 61% votes for, 39% against to accept the procedural motion.

With the amendment past the updated motion, to investigate planting more tress on campus, then went to a vote. 

Resolved by 69% votes for, 31% against to accept the motion.

 

Then that was it, it was all over, what was expected to be a short quick council surprised us all with is engaging debate and extended discussion. 

If you want to watch the action yourself you can here or if you want to join us in person or virtually for the next meeting and have your vote hear, sign up for a casual voting place here.

See you all again on the 09/12/2021 at 17:00 for the last Student Council of 2021!

 

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