SU policies pass with flying colours

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The second round of policy proposals has just closed, with 9 of the 11 proposed policy reforms being passed. After a less than successful December Policy Round – with most proposals not reaching minimum voting numbers – a huge voter turnout has shown a major boost in student engagement.

In line with Bath SU regulation, there must be at least 2% of the student body engaged. Quorum for this February Policy Round was therefore set at 337 votes. Let us try and be a bit clearer about the voting process: Each proposal needed at least 337 votes for the SU to recognise the results. The votes could be for or against, so long as the total number of voters for each proposal reached quorum.

With over 500 students participating, each proposal hit the targeted quorum and was accounted for. In fact, the lowest ‘voter engagement’ proposal was still quite a way away from minimum quorum with 359 votes.

The proposals in this round of policy reform were quite varied. It is not impossible to believe the success behind this higher student engagement was affected by the variety of the proposals; there was something in it for everyone.

Basically, the sporting community had the very popular Online SCORE tickets proposal. With its passing (363 for/44 against) it will now allow students to avoid 6am queuing on Monday morning to get them and their friends their Wednesday tickets.

The environmentalists among us could vote for the Fossil-Free Bath policy (262 for/99 against), shifting the whole university focus – administrative and academic – towards a greener path.

Gender-equality supporters did a great job of passing both the Gender-Neutral Signage (201 for/173 against) and the Sanitary Products proposals (269 for/70 against), selling tampons at cost price and ensuring no profit is made off the sale of sanitary products.

Performance Arts were also in the mix with the ICIA Practice Cards proposal being passed (355 for/42 against), allowing students better access to practice facilities such as the Edge.

Of course the larger national student attention questions were also tackled. Maintenance grants were in the discussion, with over half of student voters (269 for/100 against) demanding the SU take an active stance against government plans to cut maintenance grants. The Maintenance Grants policy that was passed also expects the SU to join other universities in the national campaign against the marketization of Higher Education.

This is a clear example of important student engagement, as the question at hand would affect students above all others. A more international question was raised with the Stronger in Europe proposal. The reform, which passed with 293 of the 501 votes, expects the SU to take an active role in the running-up-to the EU referendum with actions including organising voter drives. Specifically, taking an IN stance until a wider student referendum will be carried out – expected in the next few months.

The proposal that was passed with the strongest support – 400 for votes – was the External Use of Rooms. Similar to the ICIA Practice Cards, this proposal relates to student’s access to facilities. The policy reform will ensure that students have priority above any external bookings of rooms and facilities on campus. In a way, this stance from the voters is seen as another affront to the marketization of Higher Education. By putting student’s first we are reminding the SU, the administration and externals that a university is first and foremost for the students.

A similar attitude can be seen with the Blurred Lines policy reform that reached highest voter engagement – with 513 votes in total. Strangely enough, the high engagement was against this proposal, meaning it is one of two proposals that will not be adopted. The Blurred Lines proposal intended to ban from the SU any songs deemed offensive or inappropriate, as set by the Diversity and Support Executive Committee.

The refusal of such a proposal just goes to show how much the students want to be in charge of their own decisions. Student engagement was highest regarding a policy that would diminish the freedom of choice really, quite poetic.

Another policy reform regarding student freedoms was the Preventing Prevent (182 for/97 against). Interestingly enough, this same proposal had failed to reach quorum back in the December Policy Round. At the time, only 1 of the 5 proposed reforms had reached the 2% minimum for validity.

This February round doesn’t just show a higher political student engagement but also a more socially aware student body. With the reforms passed and the two refused, a clear underlining of student freedom and student awareness is evident. Only good news for the upcoming SU Officer elections.

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Tommi Mazzanti is Online Editor at bathimpact (2015/16). He writes about both national and international politics.

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