CUSU Council is the largest democratic body of students at CambridgeLouis Ashworth

CUSU Council voted unanimously tonight to adopt a more transparent system of voting, which will see the voting choices of voting members listed on the student union’s website.

In practice, this will mean the introduction of a section of the CUSU website to display voting choices “in the format of a table.” Whether representatives of a particular constituency did not attend Council will also be noted.

The motion was proposed by Sidney Sussex JCR President Georgina Gledhill, who emphasised a greater need for JCR presidents and vice-presidents to consult with their college constituencies before voting on motions. She argued that the current system of voting “puts responsibility on the individual rather than the constituency,” but that reformed voting will encourage “people to consult their constituency”.

The motion stated that “students deserve full transparency and accountability in the main decision making body of CUSU, regardless of the individual agency of their elected voting members.” It added that “formalising the voting decisions of CUSU Council members will in turn make constituencies increasingly democratic and promote stronger links” between CUSU and colleges.

Also stressed in the motion is the “limited” accountability with regards to Council voting, due to the use of an “inaccessible spreadsheet,” and “a heavy reliance upon voting members disclosing their voting preferences to constituencies”.

While Council is open to all students at Cambridge, ‘voting membership’ is given to two members of a College JCR – typically the president, and the vice-president or an externals officer – while an MCR has one vote. Each of the ‘CUSU Campaigns’ also has two votes.

A point of concern raised during the discussion was whether the new system would compromise the privacy of voting members, or leave them at risk of being singled out were CUSU to vote on controversial motions.


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It was suggested that the list of votes would not name individual voters, and that there was potential to ensure that the list would only be accessible to University members, through the Raven login service.

Another possibility raised in the motion was modernising the Council voting system, with a view to investigating “updating the transparent voting system to an electronic voting mechanism for CUSU Council.”

This reform comes after the Democracy Review passed at the previous Council meeting, where it was resolved that CUSU Council will see the addition of two devolved bodies – the ‘College Forum’ and the ‘Academic Forum’ – to better address student concerns and propose relevant motions to the CUSU Council, which will remain a legislative body.

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