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Another Attempt to Ban 2-Year Sabbs

Dec 10 2006 18:01
Ashley Brown
Despite previous attempts to ban two-year sabbs, another attempt will be made on Tuesday.
Previous 2-year sabbs: Mustafa Arif, Sen Ganesh, Sameena Misbahuddin

The issue of Sabbatical Officers who spend two years in their role will rear its head again at Council on Tuesday, with a paper by Deputy President (Education & Welfare) Ben "Fluffy" Harris calling for a one year maximum.

At present students may hold sabbatical positions for a maximum of 2 years, a limit set by the 1994 Education Act. ICU sets no further limits, which has seen every President from 2001-2006 have a second term: Sen Ganesh held the presidency between 2001 and 2003, Mustafa Arif between 2003 and 2005, with 2005-2006 President Sameena Misbahuddin having previously been Deputy President (Finance & Services).

Opponents of two-year sabbs believe that it has significant problems, not least because it is extremely difficult to beat an incumbent sabbatical in an election. Indeed, former Deputy President (Clubs & Societies) Richard Walker was re-elected with little, if any, campaigning at all. They further believe that after a year the holder of a sabbatical position becomes disconnected from the student body, so it is vital to have new ideas coming through in the form of fresh sabbaticals.

Supporters of keeping the status-quo believe that sabbs in their second term provide continuity, while also having more time to see through any changes they put in place. The new elections regulations from the Governance Review also allow "campaigning on record", so opponents to incumbents can use negative campaigning if previous manifesto pledges have not been achieved.

The Governance Review process saw a compromise appear, which suggested that sabbaticals could not remain in the same position for more than a year, but could move up from a Deputy President to a President (but not move down). This proposal was deemed controversial, so was not submitted with the other changes which are now in effect.

The proposal being presented on Tuesday is the extreme position and not part of the Governance Review changes. If passed, two year sabbaticals would be banned entirely - indeed it goes further, preventing anyone who may be elected during the year (in the case where a position becomes vacant) from standing again.

An attempt to ban two-year sabbaticals last year was defeated by a narrow margin.

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Discussion about “Another Attempt to Ban 2-Year Sabbs”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. Adil   
Dec 10 2006 21:49

The article covers the negatives of 2-yaer sabbs well. Surely there are positives of moving up the ladder.

2. What   
Dec 11 2006 16:35

Mustafa Arif...enough said

Dec 11 2006 17:34

there are many advantages to two year sabbs, some of which are mentioned in the article above.

the obvious ones are experience and continuity - a 2nd year sabb has already had the learning curve and should be fully functional from day 1, which is not possible for a new person. further, assuming they haven't spent the year in a hole, they will know a great deal about current projects (e.g. masterplan) and can progress them effectively. some projects take more than a year and being able to complete them under the same leadership is a huge benefit.

additionally there are leadership skills that a 2nd year sabb can provide - they are guarranteed to have 'been there and done it' in terms of getting papers through committees and can lead debates more effectively.

the arguments about fresh blood and stagnation are pertinent, but the proposals in the governance review struck a decent balance, allowing those essential skills a 2nd year sabb will have to be retained and preventing.

Mustafa (imho) was an aberration - it is not sensible to reject the whole idea of 2 year sabb based upon one incident: you may as well suggest that the US shoud ban 2 year presidents because of george Bush!

for me it comes down to the simple question of "why do we have sabbatical officers?" if the answer is to provide experience to students and to give them a launch pad, then absolutely 2 year sabbs should be banned because they are preventing others from having that opportunity.

on the other hand, if the function of sabbs is to run the Union then it would be crazy to bar any candidate who can legally stand. the electorate should pick whoever they believe will do the best job. end of story. if they believe a 2nd year sabb is bad then they will vote accordingly.

Ultimately the decision should go in favour of whatever is in the best interests of the Union, and not be a paniced reaction to an isolated bad experience.

Dec 11 2006 17:36

other info;

at IC, to the best of my knowledge, there are 4 examples of 2 year sabbs (Sen, mustafa, sameena and richard Walker). 4 data points are not the soundest evidence upon which to draw conclusions...

5. Seb   
Dec 11 2006 20:30

Sen also lost focus in his second year.

Two year presidential sabbs are a bad idea.

I don't see any reason why you shouldn't be allowed to move up or sideways though.

Dec 11 2006 21:29

There were five 2-year sabbaticals; what about former Felix Editor Will Dugdale?

Dec 12 2006 08:26

good point; i thought he was quite good

Dec 12 2006 15:31

Will Dugdale was a legend, people.

Dec 12 2006 16:09

But Felix Editor is not a *proper* sabb, as Andy will tell you...

Dec 21 2006 14:08

Yay or Nay?

Dec 21 2006 14:28

After much discussion/argument ... nay.

Closed This discussion is closed.

Please contact the Live! Editor if you would like this discussion topic re-opened.


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