February 16, 2006

Freedom of Speech for Media Societies

From Kat Stark's Presidential Manifesto, 2005:

University is a place where students should be free to express their beliefs and should be talking about difficult issues. I will be actively encouraging students to express their own beliefs and hear others (sic) beliefs with respect and sensitivity

Well said.

But in reality, has Kat implemented this? Or did she reject a policy to prevent the Boar from commenting on referenda? Or did she change the current Union policies which state that – effectively – the media societies can't broadcast or print opinions about referendums or elections, for fear that 'debate' might bias the elections?

Sadly not.

This is why I've submitted a referendum (which is likely to get 'hacked' to pieces tomorrow) which would allow media societies to speak freely about such referenda and elections – so long as coverage of each society is, in the whole, unbiased.

Unlike the Union's current rules, there is some thinking behind this. Notably, OFCOM's regulations, which state exactly this method of ensuring bias doesn't occur. And considering RaW is capable of adhering to OFCOM's regulations about everything else, why not this? And why just RaW? Why can't WTV and the Boar have a proper debate rather than have to tip-toe around while the Union North people have a feeble debate which consists solely of "official" arguments?

My feeling from Union North is that they're against this motion. But why? Surely a healthy democracy requires debate about the issues (as Kat herself advocates above), not just two 'official arguments' which leave no room for a middle ground.

On the abortion issue, for instance, wasn't there a middle-ground somewhere out there? Did it get expressed during the last referenda period? No. Because that would break the rules.

And I'm not advocating RaW or the Boar taking a 'view' – they'd simply be allowed to facilitate arguments between people with differing opinions. They'd still have to be 'unbiased' as a whole.

For instance, you couldn't say in the Boar: "Don't Vote Duggan". You'd have to have someone say why you should vote for him, and someone say – equally forcefully – why you shouldn't. Just like in the 'real' world.

And if RaW, WTV and the Boar slip up, they should be punished. Just like now. But give them a chance, rather than strangling their coverage of important issues. You never know, it might just improve participation and turnout. Assuming that's what Union North wants.

Kat Stark's Presidential Campaign Slogan, 2005:

No Empty Promises

I trust Kat'll be voting in favour of the motion then.


- 6 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. So, let me get this straight… the Kat Stark that said "I will be actively encouraging students to express their own beliefs and hear others (sic) beliefs with respect and sensitivity" was the same Kat Stark that, according to Comment 8 of this entry, went to a Union Council meeting and patronised disgracefully those who had voted on a policy (which she had disagreed with) by claiming they didn't understand it? That's "respect and sensitivity"? More like insensitivity and contempt, if you ask me. I don't take a word she says seriously.

    I fully agree with you. I think the current regulations stifling the Union's media outlets are an absolute farce. The problem is that it's a vicious circle. I'd fully support a motion to have the election coverage regulations changed if one came about. But of course, people are too busy fannying around with nonsensical debates which approximately 0.1% of the Union's membership cares about, and of course everyone else loses interest. Then, because they've lost interest, the people who would of course benefit from a motion like this won't vote for it and it'll end up being voted against by the Union North control freaks, meaning RaW, WTV and The Boar are end up in the same position. And it's sad really, because one major way of reducing apathy would be to raise awareness and encourage debate through those same outlets, which reach out to a far greater audience than the wannabe MPs in their little hidey-holes in Union North ever will.

    16 Feb 2006, 20:37

  2. How badly do you think the motion will be 'hack-attacked' tomorrow Chris? Do you get to find out what amendments have been proposed prior to the Composite or do they try and throw you off guard as much as possible?
    Good luck, fingers crossed they don't weaken it down.

    16 Feb 2006, 21:11

  3. I suspect it'll get changed somehow, but they can only change it so long as it is in the spirit of the motion.

    I don't actually intend to go to the Composite Committee, despite being rudely summoned during the week. Clearly the Union doesn't understand that some people at Warwick are actually doing a degree, and therefore can't spend three hours at a meeting where 'anal' is the most dominant stench.

    Personally I think this assumption that students have unlimited time to spend on Union politics serves only to further the interests of the hacks that can be bothered to waste their time at Warwick, and who so often agree with each other anyway.

    16 Feb 2006, 22:10

  4. But in reality, has Kat implemented this? Or did she reject a policy to prevent the Boar from commenting on referenda?

    Presidents can't reject policy; however, I'm fairly sure Kat didn't vote for it and she then wrote a compromise motion to improve things from the Boar's point of view.

    Personally I think this assumption that students have unlimited time to spend on Union politics serves only to further the interests of the hacks that can be bothered to waste their time at Warwick, and who so often agree with each other anyway.

    Composite is a pain but it's necessary and almost certainly couldn't be timetabled to suit everyone who wants to be there. If you ask AJ (chair of Council and composite) in advance he might be able to arrange to discuss your motion at a more specific time. Even if no one is there to defend it, the motion is entirely reasonable so I wouldn't expect anyone to want to change it drastically.

    On a different note I think you'll find plenty of disagreement on a lot of things (including several current referenda motions) amongst Union Officers (including amongst Sabbaticals). Just because we can work well together doesn't mean we always agree.

    17 Feb 2006, 10:12

  5. Go Doidge! I'm with you. Bring it on.

    17 Feb 2006, 10:44

  6. David

    Me too! Just give the chance to lay into those [**CENSORED UNDER UNION POLICY 628**] policies!!

    17 Feb 2006, 15:55


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