The actions of the QUBSU Student Council this semester have moved some students to share their views. The motions and the dates of the meeting are included below.
Council Opinion: Student Council Votes for Neutrality Policy on Abortion [December 12th]
BY SONIA BENHASSINE
The World may not have ended on the 12 of December, but it could have marked the end QUB student politics as we know it. The last student council meeting of term produced what can only be described as “gag orders” on our student’s union repealing policy 3.1 which concerned the Union’s pro choice stance and also passed a motion to stay silent on the conflict in Israel and Palestine, is this neutrality or ignorance of what issues exactly affect students?
Whilst people argue back and forth on this issue on the basis of pro or anti choice, or pro or anti Palestine, what stood out for me was the relief expressed by certain individuals about how the student’s council can focus on so called “student issues”.
Of course I understand that our council cannot legislate on national or even worldwide issues such as abortion or the crisis in the Middle East, but the belief that students do not care about these issues and are only concerned with issues that affect them, highlights that certain student council members have a very poor view of their constituents, considering them to be inward thinking, selfish and unaware of worldwide crisis.
It is also extremely naive to assume that students are not affected by these issues which their council has voted to stay silent on, the biggest of which would be abortion. To offer a dose of harsh reality, I do have to state that students face unplanned pregnancies which have an adverse effect on their university lives. Regardless of any council member’s personal religious, moral or philosophical belief, our students union should be able to provide advice and support, even if that support is a mere referral, to those who need it, a pro-choice students Union by no means was one which encouraged abortion, but a neutral students Union will by no means encourage any support for a female student in crisis.
Council Opinion: Motion to Minute Student Council Committee Meetings Defeated [November 27th]
BY GARY SPEDDING
This semester, a portion of your student council voted against a motion that was designed to ensure transparency and accountability of Student Councillors and the Executive Committee (Student Sabbatical Officers). This motion merely put forward that our council minutes should be recorded professionally so that students can see what is being said and who is saying it at Student Council, after all Councillors are elected by you in order to represent you!
In any other democratic body on the planet whether it be at government level, city council level or National Student movement level the minutes of meetings are carefully recorded, checked for errors and published for scrutiny to the electorate (In this case that's you).
It is a shame that many Councillors are all too willing to put forward their views and opinions but are in opposition to having said views and opinions recorded on an official transcript for public scrutiny.
Queen's University Students' Union is our students union, in fact it is more YOUR Students' Union and this means that you should have the right to scrutinize and hold accountable any and all members who sit on it. You have the right to look up what we are doing and saying on your behalf it cannot be expressed in any simpler terms than that.
Alas council rejected the proposed motion which hoped to instil some professionalism and regularity to the publication of council and committee meeting minutes.
I will be resubmitting my motion for the next council meeting where I shall endeavor to get through any obstacles and arguments made essentially against transparency. My main motivation behind this is to ensure students at our university are not only informed of what happens but feel they can engage in the democracy of our Student Union Council.
Let me make clear that as a Student Councillor I am elected to represent you or more precisely the students in my constituency, Medicine, Health and Life Sciences – I am of course also allowed my personal views and permitted to carry forward some of my own ideas on how to improve our Students' Union policy file. I strongly believe that what I do and say should still be recorded and published even if I occasionally say things that may appear foolish as I find constructive feedback from the scrutiny process currently denied to you all, to be very helpful. Whether you wish to challenge or agree with what I say in council at least it would be a massively positive step for student engagement which to be frank is crucially need at our Students' Union.