Passing measures against discrimination of both disabled and homosexual students was the highlight of the eighth Student Council meeting of the academic year, held on Thursday March 4th. Printing was also extensively discussed and updates to the university library were explained.
Attendance took a leap up with 35 people altogether, though this was due to the SU elections campaign. The unfamiliar faces of Andreas Zacharia, Lucy Alborough and Katie Blackburn made an appearance at the council. Despite running for an important vice-presidential role, Ellie Marchant-Williams was not in attendance.
Library revamps were first on the agenda. The online booking system has been updated so that students are no longer able to pre-book books. This is due to demand time where some students would book late at night, therefore not giving staff enough time to reserve books. As a consequence, all bookings will now have to be made in person.
Also, after a mandate made at the last council, who can book group rooms was investigated and explained. Kayleigh Turner, VP for education and academic affairs at the SU, specified that group rooms are not allowed to be booked by teaching staff. Tutors may go into group rooms and talk to students but “must not engage in any formal teaching”.
Printing was the hottest topic at the meeting. Turner, despite being better prepared than at the last council, found it difficult to explain how the printing system works within the university after being pressured by the council to investigate.
Joe Hicks, student officer and campaigns officer candidate, told Turner that he had asked 30 students and none knew about the difference between staff and student printing costs. He told the council that students were “outraged”.
Turner told the council that staff do not actually pay for printing, and that it’s part of the budget, so counts as business costs. The 2.5p value has just been “plucked from the air” and they could set the value at £1m if they wanted to, only that would result in virtual budgets of billions of pounds.
Turner stressed to students that it is an economic value only and bears no relation to how the literal expense that students pay for printing. She also told Hicks that he was incorrect when when said that personal printing was cheaper than university printing.
Turner also said that the university was looking into ways to reduce the expense of printing, such as online hand-ins and dealing with professional printing companies for art students’ work. However, despite these potential changes saving up to 20% of the current printing budget, students will not see a reduction in their printing fees.
This wasn’t satisfactory for the council. Georgina Elson, student rep for History, called for an investigation into faculty printing budgets, since certain faculties only provide online handbooks which are needed for every seminar.
This was echoed by another, JP Thackeray, who was unhappy with project briefs being placed on Blackboard rather than being printed out. Hicks also asked for the SU to provide a data sheet with the university’s printing costs, so that the council could better understand the issue.
Next, Steven Greaves, VP welfare and liaison, brought up the problem of lecturers not allowing students with learning difficulties to record lectures, despite it being within their right to do so. He told the council that there had been reported incidents where lecturers were reluctant to allow recording, presumably on the basis of intellectual property.
Hicks spoke up and said that his flatmate was “asked to leave his lecture unless he stopped recording.” Emily Gough, student officer and VP welfare and diversity candidate, also said “Media don’t seem to like it at all.”
Greaves then asked for all reps to talk to their students to find out if they are facing difficulty in recording lectures. He said that reps should advise such students to contact their disability advisers if they did.
Finally, the council passed three motions, two for the LGBT conference and one for the NUS conference. The first LGBT motion called for protest action to be taken against the Pope after his recent comments attacking the rights of LGBT people in the UK.
The second called for action against the BNP, and to raise awareness of their homophobic policies and members. Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP once wrote “The footage of dozens of ‘gay’ demonstrators flaunting their perversion in front of the world’s journalists showed just why so many ordinary people find these creatures so repulsive,” amongst other things.
Both were passed by the council without hesitation. The third motion called for the end of “mass exploitation of unpaid interns.” The motion pushes for the NUS to “lobby for a crackdown on unpaid internships,” and other breaches of minimum wage law.
Put forward by the Art Group, the motion also seeks for a living wage to be paid to interns and for students’ unions to campaign for the difference between paid and unpaid internships to be highlighted by their careers services. This motion was also passed flawlessly.
The next student council will be held on Thursday, March 18th.Tweet