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Governance Review Recommends Court

Sep 08 2006 09:18
Ashley Brown
Big changes are being proposed to the Union governance structure.
Who will pay for the gavel?

The Union Governance Review will present a number of recommendations to Council when it meets in October, including the introduction of a 'Court', to handle election appeals and disciplinaries.

Separation of Powers

The core theme of the changes is to create a clearer split between the executive (who manage), the legislature (who set policy) and the judiciary (who decide on election appeals and disciplinaries). At present Council performs the last two functions, despite differing requirements - in the first, members are expected to represent their constituency; in the second, members are expected to act solely on the facts, without bias.


The proposed Court would be made of around 10 members, including three lay members - expected to be life members of the union - holding three-year terms. One member would be drawn from College staff. Council would approve the members of Court ever year, based on recommendations from the executive committee.

Election complaints, media complaints and disciplinaries would be referred to the Court instead of Council. It would also have the power to overrule Council if it believed a decision taken was unlawful or unconstitutional.


At present Council has around fifty members, many of whom are also on the Executive Committee. It is seen by many as dysfunctional and unrepresentative of the student body as a whole. Most members are elected by a cross-campus or cross-faculty ballot, with the exeception of CSC chairs who are elected by the committees of the CSC's clubs.

Under the proposed plans, only the sabbatical officers, faculty union presidents and two CSC chairs would remain on Council, joined by two members from a new Representation and Welfare Board (more on this later). The remainder of council would be Ordinary Members, elected in a cross-campus ballot at the start of the year.

The End of SAC

Other recommendations include the end of the Student Activities Committee, which would be replaced by two entities: a Clubs and Societies Board and a Representation and Welfare Board. The first would function mostly as the current SAC, handing out money to most clubs and societies. However, money for representation and welfare - e.g. faculty unions and departmental societies - would come from the representation and welfare board instead.


The review also recommends the reversal of some changes made by former ICU President Mustafa Arif, including the reinstatement of the Health and Safety Committee and the Permanent Secretary reverting to the title of Union Manager.


More controversial proposals are also being considered, but will be submitted to Council separately. Among these are a quota for women, as it is felt that they are under-represented on Council at present.

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