Category: Union Democracy
Creation of ‘Societies Councillor’ and 'Sports Councillor' positions on SU Council
The voices of societies, committees and sports clubs are not adequately represented within the current SU Council membership.
Issues such as storage and room bookings have challenged and compromised societies and their function, with very little progress. Consequently, Societies’ Committee and the Activities Officer submitted a proposal to SU Council that would allow for the creation of a Societies Councillor to raise key society issues. However, this was rejected by SU Council, we feel, without due consideration.
Societies and Sports are fundamental parts of our Union. With 350 societies and 58 sports clubs comprising more than 3500 committee members who give up countless hours of their time to enhance our student experience, the benefit they provide to students is irreplaceable. Therefore, their voices must be heard.
Societies’ Committee and Sports Committee feel that it is in the best interests of Societies and Sports Clubs that two new permanent councillor positions be created on SU Council. A ‘Societies Councillor’ and a ‘Sports Councillor’, with an immediate by-election being called.
Each councillor’s core responsibility will be to represent the interests of student Societies/Sports Clubs at Council. They will not have specific duties on Societies’ Committee/Sports Committee other than to engage with pertinent issues and raise them to council where appropriate, as ex-officio members of their respective committee, being a direct link between the two bodies. The Societies Councillor will also work to represent the issues relevant to the 9 Working Committees responsible to SU Council through Societies’ Committee.
Societies’ Committee Justification:
Societies’ Committee is a group of 21 elected students plus the Activities Officer who work incredibly hard to support, promote, develop and represent Societies and Working Committees in the Union. In addition to allocating funding and approving new societies, the committee strives to influence key decision makers in the Union to ensure societies are treated fairly, appropriately supported and consulted in any relevant decisions.
Other than the Activities Officer, there is no formal working relationship between Societies’ Committee and SU Council. The Activities Officer has a wide range of duties other than Societies & Committees. These groups are so crucial to student life it is of paramount importance they have a dedicated representative to ensure their voices are heard.
Sports Committee Justification:
Sports Committee is a group of 12 elected students plus the Sports Officer. The committee works to make sport more inclusive through a number of campus wide campaigns as well as supporting and being a voice for the 4000 club sport members.
While Sports Committee sits within the SU, sports clubs sit within Sport Sheffield which is part of the University, meaning that student voices often get lost in the gap between the SU and the University. A Sports Councillor on SU Council would ensure that important and long standing issues such as funding are brought to the attention of the SU.
-Amend the SU Constitution By-Laws to create two new councillor positions on SU Council; ‘Societies Councillor’ & ‘Sports Councillor’
-Elect each councillor through a campus-wide election
-On passing of this proposal through referenda, immediately elect each councillor in a by-election.
-Each councillor shall be ex-officio members of their respective committee, Societies’ Committee/Sports Committee
This proposal has the full support of both Societies Committee and Sport Committee.
Submitted by: Matt Shadrack, Chair, Societies Committee; Tori Wensley, Chair, Sports Committee.
Societies Committee Responses To Concerns Raised In Council Meeting: Shouldn’t The Activities Officer Be Doing This? The Activities Officer has a wide range of duties other than Societies. Societies are an irreplaceable part of our SU enhancing so many students’ university lives. Their importance, we feel, grants them the right to a dedicated representative on the highest decision making body. A Societies Councillor will also provide an engaged, independent representative to hold both the Activities Officer and Societies Committee to account. The Activities Officer fully supports our proposal. Won’t This Lead To Double Representation? The annual turnover of departmental councillors provides a wide ranging variation each year in how much representation Societies/Sports Clubs have. Without dedicated councillors for Sports/Societies there could be the case that, for no fault of their own, few/no departmental councillors take interest in Society/Sport issues. The SU Constitution stipulates: 5.2.1 There shall be a Council of no fewer than 40 and no more than 80 representatives made up of the Students’ Union Officers, representatives of the general student body and of specific groups of students, and representatives of SU activity areas, as specified in the Bye Laws. The two key ‘SU activity areas’ of Societies and Sports are not adequately represented in the current SU Council Membership. By creating these councillor positions, we are ensuring that there is always someone to speak up on behalf of Societies and Sports Teams. Will This Lead To Lots More Councillors Being Created? In addition to our proposal seeking greater representation for Societies and Sports Clubs, it specifies that the ‘Societies Councillor’ will also be expected to represent issues pertinent to the 9 Working Committees who are responsible to SU Council through Societies Committee. These are: Conservation Volunteers, Film Unit, Forge (Press/Radio/TV), Debating, RAG, Volunteering and Theatre Company - as well as Societies Committee and Sports Committee being covered by this proposal. We are proud that our proposal provides greater representation for a vast majority of student groups. If SU Council identifies a need for a further councillor roles on passing of this proposal, they will be able to implement those.