Just in time for the beginning of Executive Officer nominations, an Extraordinary General Meeting of the SU Council passed a series of wide-ranging changes to the structure of Nottingham’s Students’ Union. The reforms come after over three months of discussion and analysis by the Executive, and represent the product of years of dissatisfaction with the previous system in the SU.
Welfare Officer Hannah White, presenting the motion, said that it would benefit students if the number of sabbatical (full-time) officers was reduced, while non-sabbatical (part-time) officers needed reforming, owing to their high workload and lack of input into strategic decision-making. It was also felt that the positions of Student Run Services, Intersite & Residential Associations, and Equal Opportunities weren’t working satisfactorily, due to overlap with the duties of other positions.
The proposed solution defined the roles of four main decision-making bodies, the Trustees, Union Council, Executive and other Officers, all with varying responsibilities. Instead of a single SRS Officer, Student Run Services will be overseen by Exec officers more relevant to individual services. For example, services such as URN, NUTS and Impact fall under the remit of the Democracy and Communications Officer. Equal Opportunities will now combine with Welfare to create a single position, while Intersite & Residential Associations has been combined with the Community Officer.
There were numerous amendments proposed, the most contested of which was the discussion over the status of the Environmental and Social Justice Officer. SU President Nsikan Edung and current ESJ Officer Matthew Butcher argued that the position needed to be at the heart of Executive activities, as many day-to-day issues need input from an environmental perspective. On the other side, it was argued that the ESJ officer could function much more effectively without the baggage associated with being an Exec member, and that even without a vote on the exec the ESJ officer would still be able to attend Exec meetings. The vote passed narrowly in favour of the ESJ officer retaining his position on the Exec, 20 votes to 19.
The meeting also passed an amendment – proposed by Education Officer Craig Cox – creating the position of ‘Union Historian’, whilst also clarifying the role of the Education Officer. SRS Officer Stuart Bailey proposed the creation of a ‘Student Activities’ Officer, worried that the new Finance and Services Officer would be representing different groups with conflicting interests.
Matt Leventhall and Charlotte Senior proposed an amendment pertaining to the representation of healthcare students, as it was felt that the issue of representing students on medical courses had never adequately been dealt with. It was noted that healthcare students are unique, not least because a sabbatical position of Health Representative had been described as ‘career suicide’ by a member of the medical faculty. It was decided that in order to take the concerns of health students seriously, it was too big an issue to discuss for the current changes. The proposed amendment was retracted, but with assurances that the Exec would look further into the issue.