Union Council Review: 02/10/08

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By Zain Sardar on 10.10.2023

Union Council Review: 02/10/08

The first Union Council got off to a rip-roaring start when the Union Chair, Niall Allan, proclaimed that…it was quorate.

However, after that, excitement which should have been generated from the election of the vice chairs died down into a damp squid, one drowned and choked in its own apathy, when a grand total of…no people ran for the positions. The elections of the vice-chairs have now been moved to the next Union Council, and the positions may possibly be better publicised beforehand. One can only hope so.

Does anyone remember the whole drama surrounding the car parking fiasco last year? The ‘Taking the Park Out of Parkwood’ campaign? Well, according to the car parking campaign update, it seems that our honourable president has merged the campaign for student parking into what he sees as a ‘bigger problem’- the problems now surrounding students, unable to park on campus, parking near local resident’s drives and in their streets. As you can imagine, they aren’t pleased by this new state of affairs. So the campaign is now one that affects everyone in Canterbury. Tom Christian has therefore, in the interim between this and the last academic year, strove, in a manly and heroic vain, to obtain “concessions” from the university; like making them cry and admit that they need to invest more in public transportation. He is also lobbying the city council to extend free Kent bus passes to students, although it may prove an “uphill” struggle- the kind of one where the hill gets, quite sharply, steeper and steeper the more you climb up it, while a strong gale blows down on your face from above. On the plus side, Cai Robbins has said that she has spoken to the university about the possibility of communal showers for bikers, those drenched with sweat after the uphill struggle, so at least they’ll all be clean and smell nice.

In the president’s report, Tom Christian outlined that from now on elected Union Council members were entitled to discounts such as, on entrance fees to the venue (cut down to £3), 20 percent of ball tickets and 50 percent off NUS discount cards (yay!). As someone who doesn’t particularly like the Venue and finds NUS discount cards useless to the extreme, this wouldn’t motivate me to turn up to Union Council. However, these rewards could be taken away from you if you don’t turn up to council. For me, anyway, it’s very much like giving a baby a copy of Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Our Time’ with one hand and then taking it away with the other. With others, it may well be another story. Mr. President then went on to explain the Campaign to review Higher Education funding- a NUS campaign that’s going to be run in many universities across the country, designed to make the government think twice about tuition fees (I don’t think they thought once about it, let alone twice). The campaign will be run in a fayre-like atmosphere with fireworks, cotton candy and the like. If that doesn’t fight apathy and make you think about the amount of debt you’ll be in after your degree, nothing will! The money funding this event will come jointly from the Union and Kent Hospitality- who are seeing this as a commercial event they can- ironically- cash in on. VP Education, Helen Palmer, confirmed the date of this campaign, which will be during the end of October. Additionally she summarised proposals to give course representatives better and harder training, and also to give Student Committee Education Officers something to do. It’s about time, I certainly wasn’t aware they actually did anything.

VP Welfare Tom Page warned us of ‘Carnage’, which is a group that organises a ‘mega bar crawl’ that is set to come to Canterbury late October, which promotes ‘irresponsible drinking’ and drinking ‘yourself to death.’ He stated that anyone who he recognises as confirmed to go on the facebook event he’d send a ‘polite message’ persuading them not to go. VP Sports, Cai Robbins, and VP Activities Caz Brooker, added to the concerns expressed over excessive drinking by speaking about how initiation events held by sports clubs or societies from now on could not pressurise people to do what they don’t want to do, and how a non-alcoholic alternative should be offered.

Among the Student Committee written reports, Rutherford President’s Alice Maskell quip that ‘we managed to make sure our fresher’s were healthy, happy and having fun (getting lashed and laid), which is the most important thing at the end of the day’ is something I found, well, interesting to say the least. It makes you wonder if orgies are now in the on the menu for Rutherford Bar along with low calorie salads and the like.

Finally regarding the motions, Tom Christian’s proposal of the commercial Associations motion hit a hard place when Keynes Student Committee President Lauren Crowley, asked where student committees, looking for publicity and sponsorship in Welcome Week before the first Union Council, would go to for approval of dealings or arrangements with commercial companies. After a five minute break, Tom Christian changed the resolves 1 section of the motion so that a representative would be able to go to Student Trustees and the Union Chair for approval of deals. Following this, the motion passed easily.

The Postgraduate officer, Jason Simpkins’ motion about Postgraduate representation passed comfortably too. He expressed concern that issues with the Virginia Woolf building, for example problems to do with its construction, did not have representatives to express them to the union, and so emphasised the “importance of a committee to speak on behalf of the students.” The passing of the motion will go a little way to rectify this.

Next council will be after the October bye-elections, which means more elected representatives will be present and so they’ll bring more passion, debate and argument than you can wave a political manifesto at.


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