LIVE BLOG: New free speech motion to be voted on at SU student meeting

Hello and welcome to The Linc’s live coverage of this afternoon’s All Student Members Meeting (ASM), which includes a new motion on freedom of speech, as well as proposals on free higher education and mental health first aid.

Photo: Lincoln SU/Twitter.

The meeting, which is the first of the new academic year, sees the introduction of a new free speech motion to be discussed and debated.

The proposal, submitted by student Bradley Allsop, calls for a change in the rules meaning that criticism of SU policy by elected officers or students does not ‘bring the union into disrepute’.

It comes after the University of Lincoln’s Conservative Society had their social media accounts temporarily suspended by the SU earlier this year, where a criticism of the union’s free speech record was classed as ‘bringing the union into disrepute’.

Meanwhile, the meeting also sees students vote on ‘new governance’ on how the Students’ Union operates, and discuss ‘No Platforming’ – a policy which sees SUs ban certain organisations from speaking on campus.

Vice President for Welfare and Community, Connor Delany, has put forward four motions for members to discuss, including proposals on to-let signs, automatic voter registration and an accommodation accreditation scheme.

The ASM takes place this afternoon, from 4pm, in the Isaac Newton Building (0014). The agenda for the meeting can be found on the SU website.

Come back closer to the time for live updates and coverage from the team.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201716:11

Hello and welcome to The Linc’s live coverage of this afternoon’s All Student Members Meeting (ASM).

Motions to be discussed and voted on include ones on freedom of speech, accommodation accreditation and mental health first aid.

The Linc’s Editor, Liam O’Dell, and Deputy Editor, Connor Creaghan, are on hand to bring you the latest updates.

Follow us on Twitter (@thelinc) and on this live-blog for the news as and when it happens.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201716:17

SU President Kudzai Muzangaza begins the ASM with an introduction, announcing that the meeting is the first quorate meeting in ‘ages’.

The news means that members in attendance are able to vote on this afternoon’s motions.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201716:28

The freedom of speech motion has now passed at tonight’s meeting, which requests that ‘a difference of views towards Union or University policy and actions, either written or verbal should not constitute “bringing the Union into disrepute”, provided that disagreement is primarily critical of policy and in line with the Student Code of Conduct, be it from an Elected Officer, or member(s) of the Union’.

The motion will now be passed on to the Board of Trustees for their approval.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201716:34

Bradley Allsop’s section motion on tuition fees, which calls for the SU ‘to adopt a stance of clear opposition, in line with the National Union of Students’ stance, on tuition fees’ has now passed.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201716:40

Kudzai talks about changes to union bye-laws now. Changes to Bye-Law 3 include:

– SUggestions can be used to propose petitions, hold ASMs, and propose amendments to bye-laws.

– The ‘fast-tracking’ of SUggestions can only be done through ‘unanimous resolution of the Executive’.

– Officer reports will be published as a summary, with a link to the full report. A vote of -25 on a student leader report leads to a disapproval.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201716:41

Bye-Law 4 means ‘time analyses, GOATing [going out and talking to students] and SUggestions’ are now added to the order of business.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201716:42

Bye-Law 9 means petitions can be started by a resolution by the Executive, SUggestions, and at All Student Members meetings.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201716:50

The Linc’s Editor, Liam O’Dell, asks Kudzai about one of the bye-laws, which sees the increase in number of students at ASM to vote on policy from 50 to 150.

With previous All Student Members meetings failing to reach quoracy at 50, Liam asks about whether the increase would make voting on policy ‘even more impossible’.

In response, Kudzai says he doesn’t think ‘it’s a matter of impossibility’, going on to add that the increase is far more representative than the current figure, which is 0.003% of students.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201716:54

Bradley Allsop is speaking against the motion, saying that ‘there’s some stuff I really like in [the changes to bye-laws]’, but ‘some of the stuff in there is absolutely terrible’.

He argues that a change in quoracy, from 50 to 150, will mean that ‘we will not get any policy passed ever again’.

He also goes on to add that the changes ‘would destroy democracy at the university’.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201717:08

One student, James, takes to the floor to call upon members to abstain, saying he is ‘somewhere in between these arguments’.

“This was advertised well,” he says. “Where are the 150 people?”

James goes on to add that he ‘would like to see 150 people here’ before the limit is increased, saying: “I am concerned that we would not get 150 people here every time.”

“I don’t think any amount of advertising will get people here,” James says. He also says that the increase to 150, which will represent 1% of students, ‘isn’t a massive amount’.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201717:13

Sabbatical Officers have given their thoughts on points raised by the floor.

SU President Kudzai Muzangaza says that if the changes are pushed back to April, then ‘we will always have the same stagnant process’.

He later goes on to add that a vote against the changes would be a ‘massive mistake’.

Meanwhile, Vice President for Activities Luke Exton says he is ‘fully confident’ that the 150 student limit for policy to be passed can be reached.

Tommy George also speaks against pushing back the decision, saying: “The next time to do this is April, so we can do something now, or we can’t.”

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201717:18

With 57 students voting for the bye-law changes, they have now passed.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201717:22

Chief Executive of the SU, James Brooks, goes through the ‘no platform policy’, which prohibits elected SU officers from debating on a stage with blacklisted speakers or groups.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201717:25

One student, from the Islamic Society, voices his concerns with no platforming, saying he is unhappy with the ‘selectiveness’ of the policy.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201717:29

One student suggests a ‘case by case’ speakers policy, where if enough students vote against a person speaking, they don’t speak, but are not blacklisted.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201717:30

Meanwhile, another student brings up the SU’s decision against the Conservative Society earlier this year, and says the No Platform policy is ‘just another form of censorship’.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201717:42

Vice President for Welfare and Community, Connor Delany’s motion on accommodation accreditation has passed, which calls for ‘accreditation scheme based on an annual accommodation survey be conducted by the union based on student feedback and one which places emphasis on service and quality’.

It goes on to add: “The results of this survey should be displaced online to students before the first housing fayre of the academic year.”

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201717:43

Connor Delany’s second motion this evening, on to-let signs, has been passed.

It reads: “This Union believes that to let and accommodation advertisement signs on student properties cause students to be at heightened risk of crime and to be singled out in the community and that these signs should not be displayed.

“This Union resolves that the union and its officers should campaign and lobby to ensure student properties will not have displayed accommodation advertisements such as to let signs.”

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201717:47

Connor’s penultimate motion on voter registration has passed as well.

It says that ‘automatic voter registration is the most appropriate method to increase voter registration and student turn out in elections’.

It goes on to add: “Voter registration should be combined with enrolment and re-enrolment so students are registered in each new property. Every effort should be made to ensure students are registered to vote.”

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201717:51

Connor is now explaining his final motion of the evening, which is on mental health first aid.

It calls for mental health first aid training ‘[to] be offered to students and university staff to allow them to identify those at risk and to also understand basic triggers and how to help students suffering from poor mental health access the best possible care’.

However, Connor adds that this motion ‘will not call for every student or personal tutor to become a counsellor’.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201717:55

Responding to a question from the floor, Connor says the motion, if passed, will see the training given to an ‘initial cohort’ before offering it out to others.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201717:55

Connor’s final motion on mental health first aid has passed.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201718:03

All motions tonight have now been voted upon, and the Sabbatical Officers are now talking through their trustee reports.

Kudzai comments on topics such as the Walk-in Centre, Freshers’ Week and contact with students, whilst Tommy talks about plug sockets.

Connor talks about the recent news around sanitary products at the university shops and the campaigns network, Luke mentions the recent discount at the LPAC for activities, and Sophia talks about the International Friends initiative.

Liam O'Dell Monday, October 16, 201718:06

Tonight’s ASM has now come to a close, with motions on free speech and changes to SU bye-laws being passed by members in attendance.

Thanks for tuning in to our live coverage. Be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook page (/thelinc), our Twitter (@thelinc) and our website for the latest news from the University of Lincoln and beyond.

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