There will be no new Sabbatical position next year, as Council rejected the proposed paper to create separate roles for Education and Welfare this evening. Although the majority of members voted to pass the paper, the two thirds majority needed for constitutional changes was not reached. The final vote tally was 20 in favour, with 12 against and 1 abstension.
The main reason put forward for the splitting of the role was that, unlike the other Deputy Presidents, the DPEW should be taking a more proactive stance on education and welfare issues within the college. However, the hectic schedule of meetings and committees, means that currently the DPEW does not have enough time to carry out proactive welfare tasks. It was argued that splitting the role into a separate Deputy President for Education and Deputy President for Welfare would allow the standard of welfare provided to rise. This is especially important as Imperial is languishing near the bottom of student satisfaction tables.
Many concerns were raised. The main one was the financing of the potential new role. A figure of £25,000 per year is the cost of supporting a sabbatical. Both the Union President Jenny Morgan, and the DPEW, Hannah Theodorou, believed that College would foot the bill, using the money that had been saved from leaving the NUS. However, this was not certain, and could not be guaranteed until after the role had been approved, and elections for it had started. If it had passed, but college not agreed, the Union may have had to pay for the role, with fears that money would be taken from clubs and societies.
Due to the time needed to fully ratify the role, this was the last opportunity to approve it before the Sabbatical elections in February. The paper had clearly been written in a hurry in an attempt to pass it in time for the elections, and many people were concerned about this. Miss Morgan, one of the papers proposers admitted that the paper was sloppy. The concensus was that something as important as this was not something to be taken lightly, and that it would be better to wait and try and introduce a new role for the academic year 2010-11. Furthermore, a lack of discussion between the current sabbatical officers was obvious, with Miss Morgan and Miss Theodorou vocally supporting the splitting of the role while DPFS Cristian Carter expressed serious doubts. It was felt that for a major change such as this, a united front would have been necessary from the Sabbatical Officers.
This was not the only welfare related issue to have run into difficulties: the International Students Officer elections have had to be postponed until the new year due to College not providing accurate records of who is a home student, and who is not. With the added constitutional implication of allowing somebody to stand for a position that they could not vote for the decision has been made to postpone them.
Although this years Sabb Team are proposing a lot of new positions and roles, they are encountering many problems with implementing them. This raises the question are the new roles going to solve the problems, or is a wholescale reform of the Sabbatical Officers roles necessary to succeed? Welfare reform seems to be the topic of the year, and this is by no means going to be the end of it...