November 29, 2004

A Counter–Anti–Fac/Racist Motion

Follow-up to The 'No Platform to Fascists and Racists' Motion from The Militant Wing of Pacifism

Ok, so I suppose the No-Platform motion has been passed.

The best thing I can think to do now is to counter it, with a motion of our own, and this time make sure things are a fair fight, with proper arguments provided and publicised for both sides of the debate.

This is where you can help

I need some advice and feedback on drafting this motion. Firstly, I want to check the waters to see how far we are willing to go – ie. to what degree can we expect to gather enough support for.

1. Not to allow any person who can be shown to have advocated or expressed, or to be likely to advocate or express, racist or fascist conduct, attitudes or views to have any involvement with the Union and to ban any such person from entering Union events and buildings. If the person is a Union member they should be dealt with via the Union disciplinary process.

1. We can remove the word 'likely'. This is a no brainer. I doubt anyone can justify that.
2. We can remove the 'buildings' part. This should also be pretty easy – it's plainly unenforceable.
3. Or we can scrap this one entirely.

3. That no Union Officer shall share a platform with any known racists or fascists at any Union event; or any other event in their capacity as an Officer.

We can scrap these entirely. Racist and fascists should be welcome to reasonable debates. Also, puts way too much pressure on officers to determine guests etc are 'on message'.

7. To empower and require the President to deal with potential or actual conflicts between Societies that could exacerbate tensions between students along the lines of race, religion, nationality or ethnicity, such as tensions erupting in relation to international conflicts.
8. To mandate the Societies and Student Development Officer to liaise with the relevant Societies to ensure that events organised by them reflect the Unionís commitment to tolerance and understanding (e.g. no offensive or inflammatory speakers or publicity).

We can scrap these two, at least partially. Ie. empower, but not require. Societies should deal with their own conflicts, until they are severe enough to call in the President. Also inconsistent. Are societies causing political (eg. left/right tensions) or sexual tensions somehow exempt?

We can then add resolutions of our own.

Any ideas?

Any thoughts? Please comment!


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  1. steven kiddle

    Yeah, i was thinking of raising a motion that all motion must have a for AND against arguement to be voted on, as otherwise it would be far to easy to pass things that seem to be ok until you inspect them closer

    29 Nov 2004, 20:41

  2. nigel walker

    I agree with steven – its crazy that people read one side of the argument and vote.

    I also think that the wording of the motion is poor – how do you, for example, define a fascist? The definition is not simple, meaning that it will be up to a sabattical to decide; I don't think that it is good when you have someone deciding whether or not you have the right to listen to someone else's point of view – sounds more like a police state.

    Also how do you define an 'offensive' speaker? I find anti-abortionists offensive but would fight tooth and nail to allow them a platform to express their opinions. Similarly I find Boris Johnson offensive but that doesnt give me (or anyone else) the right to ban him from the SU

    29 Nov 2004, 20:53

  3. Great, I'd go along with all of that.

    How does the actual process of passing (or attempting to pass) a motion work? Could someone within the Union explain? Having never tried to do this before, I'm pretty clueless.

    29 Nov 2004, 21:23

  4. Steven, the problem with that is that you could end up with an 'against' campaign, knowing they were going to lose, refusing to submit an argument and thereby voiding the referendum totally. Also, a lot of the time, no campaign groups are formed, and instead people simply rely on Union publicity to get people to vote.

    Nigel, the 'no platform' thing doesn't actually change anything in practical terms; these things are already in the policy file and they are currently defined by Union Council, which mandates the Finance and Internal Affairs Officer to add organisations to the 'banned' list. The reason it got sent to referendum is that it makes it much harder to get rid of.

    29 Nov 2004, 21:29

  5. Edward –

    There are three bodies which can pass policy

    1. Referenda
    2. General Meeting
    3. Union Council

    As the Banning Racists and Fascists motion was passed by a referendum, it can only be overturned or amended by referendum for the next 2 years.

    The procedure to do this is to collect 150 signatures (80 signatures if the University Council approves this change) and hand it in with your motion by 12 noon Friday week 6.

    [you can alternatively ask Union Council to send your motion to referenda]

    You may wish to read the current policy file at www.sunion.warwick.ac.uk/portal/ – click on the Democracy tab and then choose Read Council Papers, then Policy. This may not have been updated since the last council yet.

    If you want any further advice about submitting motions to any of the Union's bodies, feel free to email me (Chair of Union Council) at uc008@sunion.warwick.ac.uk

    29 Nov 2004, 21:40

  6. Luke –

    Just to correct you slightly, the Banning Racists and Fascists motion extends existing powers, for example it stipulates that only 2 sabbaticals would be required to prevent an event from going ahead rather than the existing 4.

    29 Nov 2004, 21:41

  7. Edward, in a nutshell, there are three levels of decision making in the Union, all of which pass policy which govern the running of the Union and the actions of our officers. At the bottom of the ladder is Council which meets 8 times per year and has a membership of about 110. Next up the ladder are General Meetings which are, according to policy, held at least twice every year, where everyone can vote. The quorum here is currently 300 but will fall to 200 if/when referendum motion 1 is passed by University Council (which has to happen because it involves changes to the Constitution). Finally, at the top of the hierarchy, are referenda which are held twice per year by ballot of all students. Currently, the quorum is 10% of Union members (or 1888 for the referenda just gone), again, falling to 7.5% or 5% voting either way on one motion. Referenda are the only way to change the Constitution or affiliations (eg. NUS); things are sent to referendum by one of two methods: either 150 (soon falling to 80) signatures on a petition, or via another body (ie. Council or General Meeting) passing a procedural motion to send a policy to referendum. Once a policy is passed, it can be lapsed at any time by the same body which passed it or a higher one; thus, our environment policy could be lapsed by any body because it was passed by Council, whereas the 'no platform' policy can now only be lapsed by another quorate referendum. Policies also automatically come up for lapse after two years (for which there is a specific proceedure I can explain to you if you're really desperate to know but won't bother otherwise). If you want a more detailed (or simply clearer) explanation, check out the 'Democracy' section of the Union website.

    29 Nov 2004, 21:42

  8. Benny, the policy file isn't updated yet (and if memory serves, we passed 12 policies last week), but it still gives a fair notion of our position. Just to say, sending a motion to referendum via Council isn't a good idea if you want it to emerge unamended; if you want to use specific words, send it by signatures.

    29 Nov 2004, 21:45

  9. Benjamin and Luke, thanks for your help.

    29 Nov 2004, 23:23


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