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The Big Ask – Live

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18 Comments on this post.
  • Union Member
    14 February 2012 at 22:42
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    What an affront to democracy.

  • Michael, Curious Bystander
    15 February 2012 at 11:17
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    I don’t know if Dave’s comment that Karni supported the Yes campaign is true. The Karni Director supporting the Yes campaign is something entirely different.

    The Chairing Committee/Exec should probably have planned better for this rather predictable eventuality and been better prepared as to what to do in these circumstances.

    I only have an opinion on question 1. It seems a lot of noise has been made that by removing Equal Opps from the title of a position, the Union is going to allow for the trampling down of all minority groups. That is a redundant argument as the Managing Director of a corner shop still has to work behind the till – it’s just a title! The Union existence rests on its ability to be inclusive and give everyone a voice.

    And as for the removal of the other positions, I know that I probably wouldn’t make for a very good FSO, nor do I know any company that changes its Financial Team every year. At any rate, all those whose positions are being removed or merged voted Yes so I think it’s probably best to agree with them – their opinions are the most accurate as to whether their role should rest in student hands.

  • Student
    15 February 2012 at 11:33
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    What this shows is that the whole process is absolutely ridiculous. The “YES” campaigns did not tell you what you were voting yes for and the same goes for these proxy forms. They turned up at places and just told people to circle yes. This is absurd.

  • Joe Clough
    15 February 2012 at 13:18
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    @Michael, have a look at this, and judge for yourself whether or not Karni supported any yes campaigns. http://twitpic.com/8k944x

  • Matt Styles
    15 February 2012 at 13:39
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    @Joseph, I saw that tweet; it was removed within minutes. I hardly think it’s evidence of support throughout Karni so much as somebody not being 100% sure on the rules.

  • Dave
    15 February 2012 at 13:47
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    It’s a public statement – regardless of whether it was removed, it makes you wonder what other Karni machinery was deployed to convince members to vote yes. If a single person voted Yes as a result of either the Karni statement or overt support of its members in their committee roles, the entire vote is in question.

    Speaking from experience, if Impact had even attempted to support a candidate or motion in an official capacity, other SU institutions would have come down on it like a tonne of bricks. Karni have got off lightly for attempting to pervert the result of the vote, but when the leader of the organisation openly supports the motion, and the organisation itself posts statements to encourage people to vote that way, it’s a bit rich to claim that nothing untoward happened.

  • Matt Styles
    15 February 2012 at 13:50
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    But there isn’t a shred of evidence to suggest anything else, and so you can’t just assume that because a twitter post went up for 3 minutes that they’ve done anything else.

    they shouldn’t have done it, it’s a public statement, but whether it affects the unbalanced nature of referenda to a remotely significant extent would be a poor assumption.

    There were a number of official SU groups who posted yes/no status’/tweets. I wouldn’t just assume that they’d been channeling vote yes/no through to their members though.

    • Eric John
      15 February 2012 at 14:59
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      @Matt Styles: I’ll have to agree with Dave. As a member of the elections committee, you might know that NUTS recently got into trouble for their allegedly pro-No-campaign coverage of the Big Ask. I thought their shows were pretty balanced, especially compared to the Karni tweet…

  • Small Name on Campus
    15 February 2012 at 14:27
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    Joseph if you have any ambitions in this Union you have just destroyed them. Criticising Karni here is a bit like a leader of a political party criticising Murdoch pre phone hacking scandal.

  • Ben McCabe
    15 February 2012 at 15:20
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    I guess the question comes do to: Are Karni bound by the same rules that other SRSs are (I’m talking notably the media SRSs here)? If they aren’t, then this has huge consequences for events such as SU elections, where a situation is created that they and New Theatre can actively back and campaign for a candidate, without incurring the wrath of elections committee in the way that other large student organisations (NUTS, Impact and URN particularly) would be severely criticised and censored for. I’m not sure that referenda are something that any SRS should be tweeting about in an obviously biased manner, unless they are all allowed to. That would at least lead to more interest in the SU and maybe encourage more people to participate (and would spice up student media coverage no end).

  • Matt Styles
    15 February 2012 at 15:32
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    @Ben, they are bound by the same rules. The rule is essentially that you can’t be supported by any individual or body in an official capacity. So the DofE Society couldn’t support a candidate for example.

    On the issue of media SRS’, I think they should be allowed to be objective throughout. Not so much biased or openly support candidates, but ask objective questions, report and individuals comment with opinions, sure.

    • Eric John
      15 February 2012 at 15:45
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      The problem is how people use the word ‘bias’; there is no such thing as a totally unbiased media. We can’t even achieve true objectivity in science, let alone journalism. I am completely against publicly backing a candidate, but our writers should be allowed to criticise them if they are standing on questionable policies. We would be doing students at this university a disservice if we decide to keep schtum simply because we are afraid of the Union. Newspapers and magazines do it all the time (and that’s why we have a Comment section). And yet, people would accuse us of being biased, hence limiting the quality of our coverage of events such as SU elections.

  • Matt Styles
    15 February 2012 at 15:50
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    @Eric, completely agree – I think you articulated this far better than I did in my last comment, but they’re my sentiments entirely!

  • Student
    16 February 2012 at 12:01
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    What bothered me was that a member of the SU council turned up at the New Theatre AGM and instructed people to fill in forms circling “YES”. I believe that the way the Big Ask was run was incredibly undemocratic.

  • Ben McCabe
    16 February 2012 at 13:03
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    @Matt Styles

    “On the issue of media SRS’, I think they should be allowed to be objective throughout. Not so much biased or openly support candidates, but ask objective questions, report and individuals comment with opinions, sure.”

    It’s interesting that you suggest we should be allowed to have ‘individuals comment with opinions’. I know full well, having been in charge of both NUTS and Impact SU Elections coverage over the last couple of years that had either organisation let one of its writers/interviewees express opinions that were negative of a candidate then we would have had the SU censor us immediately. Even with candidates such the girl who ran for President last year, we simply weren’t allowed to let a writer point out how unsuitable for the job she was. Luckily, in her case it was possible to simply quote her and for it to be clearly obvious to everyone that she didn’t know what she was talking about. But it is a serious hindrance on how we run SU coverage that we cannot let our writers express opinions as individuals, or even provide quotes from other students that could cast a negative light on any candidate’s campaign.

  • Daniel Cooper
    16 February 2012 at 13:49
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    @Student In my opinion the biggest problem with these proxy forms was that they meant people on both campaigns were at times privileging collecting them over actual campaigning – something which didn’t exactly aid us in hitting quoracy!

  • Dave
    16 February 2012 at 14:02
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    When I ran Impact’s elections coverage two years ago, one of our writers was informed by an SU Exec member that one of the candidates for his position was talking complete rubbish. As he was unwilling to go on the record, and we had been warned against anything other than complete neutrality, we had to kill the story, and I don’t doubt that this had a big effect on the way the voting went.

    There’s a level of quiet professionalism that Impact just gets on with which is often conspicuously absent in other organizations and for which I don’t think anywhere enough credit is given. Media SRSes are noticeably underrepresented on the Exec and have been for a while. It’s not because they’re small – when I left Impact had about 850 members – but because they can’t coordinate the opinion of their members in the same way that other SRSes can. An Impact member I know actually found the magazine a hindrance to his campaign, because all of his friends were bound to be completely neutral, and any attempt at campaigning internally saw him in serious trouble.

    Thankfully, despite myself often being accused of being biased this way or that (last year I was accused of a ‘blatant anti-Conservative bias’, which was hilarious), there has never, in my view, been a question of Impact being biased in favour of a candidate. SRSes are bound to serve the entire student body. It’s already ethically dubious (but practically impossible to stop) for candidates from those organizations to command a near unassailable block vote when elections come round. But if that can’t be stopped, then at the very least SRSes should be whiter than white when it comes to showing bias either way in student politics.

    That’s why more should be made of the ‘Karni Tweet’, regardless of how quickly they took it down when people complained – if Karni was whiter than white, that tweet wouldn’t even come close to being published. The fact that it was published at all is symptomatic of a more general cavalier nature towards student service.

  • Matt Styles
    16 February 2012 at 15:18
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    @Ben, interesting perhaps, but surprising, less so. Elections, much like any other committee, rules on majorities. The general consensus was that media SRS’ had been briefed to be impartial and consensus suggested the NUTS videos weren’t as neutral as they could have been.

    I must say, I only saw one and a bit of the ‘Live at 5’ videos; really had so much going on those weeks!

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