All 11 entries tagged Union

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April 27, 2005

Reply from Simon Lucas

Follow-up to Open letter to Simon Lucas from Luke's blog

I've just received a reply to the e-mail I sent to Simon Lucas yesterday re. the John Cross issue:

I'm sorry Luke, but I'm sure you'll understand that I simply cannot comment on this issue.



Which is all right and proper. I just hope that the depth of feeling on this issue is taken into account next week as this issue has already cost the Union dearly and it would be terrible if it cost more.

I have just sent the following reply:


Thanks for the reply. I applaud your integrity in refusing to comment at this stage which I fully expected; I simply felt that I should make my feelings on the issue clear to you.


Another Union officer resigns

Writing about My resignation from Mike's blog

Mike Britland, the Chair of the Union's Democracy Committee has resigned over what increasingly appears to be the fiasco of John Cross's disciplinary hearing at the hands of the Union. I would urge even non-officers to write to Simon Lucas c/o the Students' Union or to e-mail him at to protest the shabby way in which John has been treated, and to turn up to Union Council next Thursday at 7pm in S0.21 to make your feelings known on the issue.

April 26, 2005

Open letter to Simon Lucas

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

As many people doubtless know, John Cross, the former Returning Officer, currently faces a Union disciplinary for comments made at the AGM in January. This evening, the Chair of Union Council has resigned in protest. Here's the text of an e-mail I have just sent to the Union President.

Dear Simon,

I have been greatly concerned over the past few weeks to read of the circumstances which have today led to Benny Spooner’s resignation as Chair of Union Council. Whilst I accept disciplinary sanctions must be available in some cases, I find it troubling that anonymous questions to officers, criticisms in meetings, and most importantly votes in the Annual General Meeting seem to have caused, in this case, the unedifying spectacle of someone who has been a loyal servant to this Union over a number of years being hounded through disciplinary procedures without being told which clauses of the Union’s Constitution, appendices, policies, or regulations he has breached.

Over the course of this academic year, the sabbatical team have, by and large, shown themselves to be committed to the democratic character of this Union, and I thus find it particularly troubling that this record has been marred in this way. All Union members should, within reason, have the right to say what they like in Union meetings, and, without exception, should be allowed to vote as they like without fear of subsequent pursuit for voting in a way other than how the Union’s officers, Executive, or Sabbaticals wish. Something that was drilled into us at Union Council training last year was that there should be an atmosphere at Union meetings such that everyone should feel comfortable to contribute; this affair has, at a stroke, destroyed any hope of such an atmosphere prevailing in future.

The lamentable decision to pursue disciplinary action in this case has now robbed the Union of the services of two of its most capable and committed members. It will also do untold damage to the reputation of the Union and our ability to profess its democratic nature when people are hauled before a disciplinary simply for exercising their right to take a full part in Union meetings.

I hope that this distressing issue can be resolved quickly with no further unpleasantness.




Anyone who feels that this is not the way the Union should be behaving, sign the petition.

January 22, 2005

Union AGM: exam timetables, reading week, Palestine

The Union's AGM is on Tuesday at 7pm in R0.21 (Ramphal) – for those who went, it's in the same place as the last one. Apart from the boring but necessary legalistic things we have to do, on the agenda are:

  • Exam timetables: should they be released earlier?
  • Reading weeks: should they be scrapped?
  • Palestine: should the Union express solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemn Israeli settlements etc.?

The papers for the meeting, including motion documents, annual accounts, and annual reports from various parts of the Union can be found via the Union homepage and then Democracy>Browse Council Papers>AGM-UGM>04–05>AGM250105. Please come along as we need 200 people to reach quorum and make any decisions made binding. Also, if you have any questions to ask Union officers, now is the time. Every Union member is welcome and can vote and speak.

January 21, 2005

Union Drinks Prices, a follow–up

Follow-up to Union drinks prices from Luke's blog

Doubtless many of you will be pleased to know that after lengthy discussion last night during a three-hour meeting, Union Council decided not to pass the contentious clause of the Drinks Policy under discussion (which involved ending promotions on spirits and pricing drinks according to strength). Although there were great health implications to consider, we ultimately decided to delete that section for two reasons:

  1. We felt that Union members would be strongly opposed to such a move and would therefore go elsewhere, leading to:
  2. The Union becoming a less popular venue causing people to be more likely to go to clubs etc. with a lesser emphasis on safety and ultimately doing great harm to the Union's finances and thus crippling our ability to deliver other services such as AWS, societies, clubs, etc.

Overall I think we made the right decision on that policy; however, we do still need to think very carefully about our policy on drinks prices especially with relation to welfare issues. Any ideas, suggestions, or comments are welcome, either via this blog, or direct to the Union via the Commercial Development and Communications Officer's e-mail:

January 18, 2005

Union drinks prices

Writing about web page

Doubtless many of you have heard about the policy on drinks prices in the Union up for debate at the next Council meeting. I have to cast a vote on this on Thursday in my capacity as an Arts Faculty Councillor and I don't really know what to think, so I'm inviting people to put arguments one way or the other on how I should vote (in the spirit of representative Democracy). The full text of the policy can be found here and all views are welcome.

November 26, 2004

Vote, vote, VOTE!

Writing about web page

You're probably sick of this by now, but there are only four hours left for you to vote in the Union elections and referenda if you haven't already done so. Polls close at 9pm and I gather we have a fair chance of reaching the quorum, so get voting if you haven't already; otherwise various people will end up being appointed by a few of us at Council next term rather than by students at large.


November 22, 2004

Update on

Follow-up to Open letter to Simon Lucas from Luke's blog

According to a press release on the Union website, this debate will now go ahead (Wednesday, 6pm, H0.51) – they still moan about 'ill-informed speculation' though, which I think is a bit off really. Anyway, if you want to express any thoughts on this or any other issue, Union Council will be meeting on Thursday, 7pm, S0.21 – there will be a motion on this specific issue up for debate.

November 21, 2004

Open letter to Simon Lucas

Writing about web page /rlewis/entry/the_big_bad/

Well, as people seem to be posting their correspondences here with regard to this subject, I thought I'd post mine.

"From: Arts Faculty Councillor 6 Sent: Fri 19/11/2004 17:26
To: Simon Lucas – President
Subject: "Israeli Apartheid" debate

Dear Simon,

I was concerned to hear today that the Union has stepped in to prevent the debate on "Israeli Apartheid" scheduled for next Wednesday from going ahead. There are several ascpects to this decision which I find troubling given the Union's status as a democratic institution.

1.) Why was this decision taken in such a way that no one knew about it until afterwards? This debate was scheduled before the last Council meeting as, if you look at the minutes, you will see a reference to it in questions to officers. Why, therefore, was it left until the week before the debate was due to take place at a meeting no one knew about? As a consequence of this, there is no opportunity for a democratic body to scruitinise the decision before next term unless a motion were to be accepted at the next Council meeting as emergency business. Such an action has the unmistakable feel of cowardice.

2.) I cannot see any reason for the suppression of this debate. Leaving aside the fact that this is a university and is therefore meant to be a place where such issues can be discussed without fear of a few people deciding to shut the meeting down, I cannot see any part of Union policy which gives Sabbatical Officers or the Executive the power to stop a non-banned organisation from having a meeting unless that activity is illegal. It is the prerogative of democratic bodies and not of Union officers to ban organisations which, it would appear, is the de facto upshot of your actions in this case.

3.) It makes a mockery of our "no-platform" policy if it is expanded to cover events and groups it was not originally designed to target. To the extent of my knowledge, the group in question is not designated by the Union as a 'racist or Fascist group,' and attempts to put them on the same level as the likes of the BNP, Combat 18, and the National Front, are not only a deep insult to those who are concerned about the treatment of the Palestinians, but also make our attempts to deal with genuine racists that much more difficult.

Could you please tell me the circumstances in which this decision was made, and from what policy, regulation, or Constitutional Appendix you derived the authority to make it? Could you also please tell me why this meeting was not publicised beforehand so that people who were concerned on either side could come and make representations? The lack of this last makes it difficult for any officer to profess the democratic character of the Union when small groups of individuals can make such contentious decisions with such ease and in such secrecy.

I hope to hear back from you soon.


To this, I received an automated response:

"From: Simon Lucas – President Sent: Fri 19/11/2004 20:24
To: Arts Faculty Councillor 6
Subject: RE: "Israeli Apartheid" debate

Dear member,

The Students’ Union have asked the Friends of Palestine Society to postpone their event until security and safety criteria have been met. We seek to ensure that all events run by any part of the Students’ Union are safe for our members to attend and participate in.

The Students’ Union regrets that it is unable to reply individually to all emails and phone calls on this matter. We will inform our membership of any further developments through our website:"

The Union seems to have shot itself in the foot here, as, by simply resorting to the same auto-response to every e-mail, they a.) do not respond to all the points raise, and b.) make it seem as though it it not for us to question the enlightened decisions of Union officers. My major worry here is the way in which this was done; this debate was scheduled weeks ago, yet it was only stopped less than a week before it was due to happen and after anything could actually be done to scrutinise the decision. If you want to ask questions in person, Union Council is meeting on Thursday at 7pm in S0.21 (Social Studies). Everyone is welcome to come along and to ask questions about this decision and any other concern you may have.

October 19, 2004

Democracy, wonderful democracy

As you have probably heard elsewhere by now, the General Meeting of the Union tonight was quorate (for the first time since March 2000). No more are the days of quorate general meetings the stuff of half-whispered folklore; finally, a General Meeting attracted enough students to make policy rather than leaving it to the small group of us who are members of Council. Until now, people had generally worked on the assumption that no Referenda or General Meetings would ever be quorate; now, hopefully, people will participate in sufficient numbers that quoracy will be routine in both bodies.

For those who weren't there, the two motions were about Union policy on disciplinary regulations in halls of residence and 'Union independence' (copies of both motions are available on the Union website under 'Democracy') – both passed.

Anyway, well done to everyone involved in getting people to come, and thanks to everyone who turned up.

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