Over an hour of constitutional bickering and procedural hackery resulted in precisely no changes to the current status of the RSM after tonight's Council turned into a shouting match. A controversial paper seeking to restore Union status to the RSM fell by only one vote, with DPFS Chris Larvin, speaking out in opposition. The paper had 184 seconders and was claimed to be the fourth largest list of seconders to have appeared in front of Council, dwarfed only by the Environmental Policy, changes to the Beit Masterplan and the Make Poverty History campaign.
Many Councillors had already expressed concerns with parts of the proposals prompting ICU President Stephen Brown to win amendments removing the RSM representatives from both the Executive Committee and the Representation and Welfare Board. Worries that RSM students would receive too much representation through seats on these committees were cited, with Brown stating that students should not be treated as a special case just because of a historical significance. A compromise was reached by increasing the number of RWB representatives appointed by the Faculty Union's to two with Council 'strongly suggesting' that the second CGCU Representative should be from the RSM. This essentially meant that the Guilds Exec would appoint an RSM Rep rather than the RSM Exec to avoid Dep Reps outside RSM feeling unfairly disadvantaged. Several times it was highlighted that by allowing RSM to sit on Union committees, it could open the doors to other bodies such as MechSoc, EEESoc or even Dance Club to demand a place on those same committees, just by getting 200 seconders.
Shortly after the two amendments had been overwhelmingly voted through, the RSM President, Danny Hill, stormed from the room in disgust. Should he have been present at the vote a two-thirds majority would have been reached and the paper would have passed. Speaking afterwards about this matter Hill responded that in the amended state he did not feel the paper represented the needed changes for the RSM and may not have voted for the paper anyway. This was despite the compromise solution having almost the same effect as the original proposal, just without a seat on the executive.
RSM members who had turned out to observe the meeting, including past and future RSM Presidents Seb Turner and Adam Baldwin, were shocked by the tirade leashed upon the paper by Deputy President (Finance and Services) Chris Larvin. Having been Honorary Junior Treasurer to the RSM Exec before his election to Sabbatical Office, Larvin's allegiances could have been wrongly assumed. Describing the process as a "power grab" by the RSM Exec that, contrary to the consensus in the paper, did "not represent the views of the majority of students in the RSM" he questioned the validity of the paper and the method by which Hill had gathered support.
With Hill no longer present to refute claims of mal-practice, co-proposer Jon Matthews attacked Larvin on behalf of the RSM President, saying that inferring the proposers and the DPEW had lied to council was a grave allegation. Larvin responded by asking the Council Chair to read out two emails, sent by the RSM President to students in ESE and Materials. He clarified that he was concerned that the method in which the seconders were collected was dubious, due to the nature of the emails sent out to collect them. Part of Mr Matthews tirade, along with the content of the emails, can be seen in the video below. The principle concern of Mr Larvin's was an email with the subject "Click reply, then click send" - the list of seconders was collected based on replies to this email, and a previous one which had the paper attached. The email also claimed the paper was a "win-win" situation, leading to "more money" for RSM clubs and activities.
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Continuing in his attack Matthews gave a passionate speech drawing comparisons between the GSA representatives and the RSM. Postgraduates are represented twice on Council and RWB through their Faculty Unions and the GSA. No-one, he said, would remove the GSA Chair in fear of accusations of killing the GSA but everyone was willing to kill the RSM. This did not sway Council though as the paper failed to pass with the required 2/3 majority.
The rest of the meeting passed mostly uneventfully, aided by the resignation of Undergraduate Engineering Councillor Rosie Smithells who departed with the Deputy President (Education and Welfare) after the paper fell. There are a lot of hurt feelings after tonight's rather heated debate.