The motion will see CUSU Council devolved to two separate forums Louis Ashworth

CUSU Council has voted to devolve its structure in an effort to boost student engagement, with college and faculty-level issues to be discussed at two devolved bodies, a ‘College Forum’ and an ‘Academic Forum’. The vote passed by a clear majority at this evening’s CUSU Council, with only five members voting against the motion and three abstaining.

The proposal justified the change – stating that: “despite our best efforts, it is very rare for college or academic related motions to be brought to Council. In part this is because many of these types of issues are better resolved by informal discussion than by passing a motion.”

During an all-student consultation running from November to January, which received 122 reponses, 83% students said that CUSU Council should focus on academic issues, whilst 80% said that it should focus on college life issues.

The proposal stated that “Academic Forum and College Forum would therefore be informal spaces for discussions and CUSU Council would remain a legislative body”. The two forums will be able to propose motions to be put forward at CUSU Council, but would not be able to pass legislation themselves.

College Forum would be comprised of JCR and MCR Presidents and CUSU sabbatical officers, whilst Academic Forum would consist of all Student Academic Representatives, including School, Faculty and Department representatives, as well as sabbatical officers.

In particular, the establishment of Academic Forum seeks to address issues of a lack of engagement from Schools’ Representatives at CUSU Council. CUSU Education Officer Matt Kite said that a previous change to CUSU’s constitution two years ago under former President Amatey Doku saw the replacement of faculty representatives attending CUSU Council with Schools’ Representatives. However, Kite claimed that “in that process they forgot to tell school reps that they could come to Council” and so “that culture of coming to Council never took place” for Schools’ Representatives. No Schools’ Representatives were present at this evening’s CUSU Council.

Kite added that Academic Forum would be a place “where you can talk to people trying to achieve similar stuff”.

The Murray Edwards MCR President also commented that having faculty representation was important as many students at the University are not represented by colleges, including an “increasing number from the Institute of Continuing Education” and students doing Education and Clinical degrees who “sit in an awkward position between their JCR and MCR”.

In response to a concern that this proposal would add another layer of bureaucracy to CUSU Council, CUSU Disability Officer Emrys Travis said that motions would not have to go through either forum to get to CUSU Council and that “anyone can bring motions to Council at any point”.

Instead, they said it was a “way to increase that [process] and make it seem more accessible” by removing a “level of fear and confusion” that might arise from going directly to a “very formal legislative body”.

The number of members of CUSU Council will decrease slightly in order to make sure that representatives are “not overburdened with meetings” and are “able to focus their energy on issues they care about, with only one representative per Common Room needing to attend Council (which, including a representative from both college JCRs and MCRs, will result in about 60 college representatives).

Furthermore, the roles of Ethical Affairs Part Time Executives will be reconsidered, with further discussions to be held on whether to create an Ethical Affairs Campaign and a full time sabbatical position for Ethical Affairs.


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The proposal was one of two proposals to change the Council’s structure brought forward at the Council, as part of a ‘Democracy Review’ conducted by the CUSU executive to address engagement with CUSU democracy. The proposals were formed after consulting JCR and MCR representatives.

Evie Aspinall, CUSU President, said to Varsity that she is “delighted that CUSU Council voted in support of the democracy review. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to make CUSU more democratic and accountable and to make sure it focuses on the issues students care about.”

In the past, CUSU Council has been accused of being irrelevant to students. Evie Aspinall ran for CUSU President last year promising to change that, with this devolution a clear part of this policy.

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