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Ask The President Returns To stoic tv

Feb 02 2007 23:47
John Anderson
John Collins returns to stoic tv's Ask The President, to answer more of students' questions about the Union.
The two Johns.

Ask The President, stoic tv's topical Union debate show, is to return on Friday 9th February for its third edition. Presented by stoic tv Station Manager, John Anderson, the show allows students to send in their questions to be put straight to the Union President, John Collins, about the state of the Union and problems that have been faced since Christmas.

[What can Imperial bring to the NUS?] ... Our students, let's face it, are better at maths, better at finances
ICU President John Collins in the November edition

The last edition, filmed just before the Christmas holidays, focused on topics as diverse as the NHS and College and Union catering. However, much of the discussion was geared towards the NUS referendum, as the results had been announced just a week earlier. Both of the previous shows can be seen on the stoic tv website.

The January/February edition is being filmed on Tuesday 6th February, and should reach the stoic tv screens at lunchtime on Friday 9th, with a webstream available soon afterwards at Any questions for John Collins should be sent to before Tuesday, or can be posted in the discussion below.

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Discussion about “Ask The President Returns To stoic tv”

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.
Feb 04 2007 02:21

Woohoo! I love this show!

Feb 04 2007 10:37

my question comes in two parts ... a) if the no-confidence goes through, b) if it doesn't (or becomes a censure)

a) do you consider the no confidence by one of your team against another as a failure of management? could you have given the DPGS any more support?

b) with the no-confidence failing, how can you heal the rift in your team to go onwards successfully?

3. mez   
Feb 04 2007 12:06

My question concerns ammending SSP:

What does John say to ammending staff student protocol by removing the censoring of student media/ press and the gagging of staffs opinion?

Obviously the rest of SSP concerning hounding of staff by press or interferance of staff in student matter can stay. I just dont see why censorship is a good thing.

Does he agree that censorship is a bad idea and in order to make the workings of the union more transparent he should remove censorship from SSP.

Feb 04 2007 12:32

I think you're asking the wrong questions here. The SSP just enshrines as a rule the union's requirements under law as a publisher, in relation to its own staff. It doesn't stop staff giving their opinions and advice, but what it does do is stop staff trying to set policy (by submitting papers to exec, council etc).

As an editor the SSP can be irritating, as it prevents going after an inept member of staff - however doing so would get "the union" (John Collins and probably me) sued anyway.

The question you need to ask is:

Would you be in favour of an independent student media, run by an incorporated organisation?

This is the Cambridge Varsity model, which is run by Varsity Publications Ltd and distributed on the campus. Of course Defender at Lincoln shows the trouble with this.

Feb 04 2007 13:11

We'll never get the Varsity model here, thanks to a little thing called apathy. I'd be surprised if the sabb editor position stays for many more years, seeing as every union in London has rid themselves of theirs (or never had one to start with).

The model Varsity has is superb, and produces a great newspaper. They even have full-time staff members to handle the administrative side of things.

My question is: What do you think will be remembered for, and do you feel that you've accomplished what you set out to do?

6. JC   
Feb 04 2007 13:28

The President who tricked ICU into joining the NUS.

7. mez   
Feb 04 2007 14:42

Are you saying that SSP is British law and that the MOU just restates it for the purposes of ICU? If so, then i wasn't aware of that.

I was told that SSP was an addition to the MOU some years ago. Whilst i worked at the bar, I was often told that the bar managers weren't allowed to discuss thing/ give their opinion because of SSP. If that isnt the case then there has obviously not been enough clarification to the staff about this.

Yes, i probably did want to ask the question about independent student media. Fair point, my question was badly worded. but I also want to remove the gagging order for the staff as well as the media. In short does John agree that SSP should be amended to provide these liberties?

i still freely admit that there should be some sort of rule to stop press hounding and law suits being filed on that basis. But I can't see why SSP can't encorproate that AND not have any censorship related wording. FREE SPEECH!

Feb 04 2007 14:57

MoU, Annex G: "5. Staff members may advise officers of the ICU on any matter within their work area, but shall not in any other way seek to influence the policy-making process of the Union."

So "I think we should lower bar prices to increase trade" is a perfectly fair thing for bar managers to be discussing. "I think we should oppose the war in Iraq" is not.

I don't think the rules themselves are the problem, the problems are:

  • the media is not truly independent
  • people err on the side of caution
  • it sounds like some staff have either been misinformed, or deliberately misinterpreted the rules to cause tension
9. jess   
Feb 04 2007 15:01

Ashley was that last point <i>deliberately</i> designed to make people want to come here and yell at you? It sure looks like it.

I am sure that the bar managers would never have misinterpreted rules to cause tension - they were far too busy running the bar to bother themselves with things like that. They wanted a happy working atmosphere for their staff, not to cause a divide between upstairs and downstairs - besides, the sabbatical officers did a grand job of that anyway

Feb 04 2007 15:32

The last point was designed to make people think about where any historic misinterpretation may have come from. I didn't say the bar staff may have deliberately misinterpreted, just that some staff may have done.

Who is to blame for the misconception that staff can't advise? Who can fix it? If we answer that and can educate the staff as to what they can and cannot do and make sure that information is available to everybody, then we can avoid any deliberate or accidental misinterpretation later.

Feb 04 2007 17:44

"Would you be in favour of an independent student media, run by an incorporated organisation?"


But I don't think the College Council will let that happen. If anybody can think of a way of creating a CLG called "Felix" without the powers that be noticing then please let me know.

Feb 05 2007 01:41

Would this be related to not wishing to be sued for something I print, John?


13. cynic   
Feb 05 2007 02:46

"the media is not truly independent"

of course it's not - truly independent editors would never sign a motion of no confidence.

14. cynic2   
Feb 05 2007 09:30

'a way of creating a CLG called "Felix" without the powers that be noticing'

And without them cutting ICU's subvention by the amount the Union gives to Felix?

15. Seb   
Feb 05 2007 13:32


I think Ashley may have been referring to a previous "General Secretary" or whatever it was we called Mandy's successor.

16. jess   
Feb 05 2007 14:59

Seb - Permanent Secretary. And Ashley could have said so. ;)

I've never heard a president of ICU complain so often that he is liable to be sued. In fact John Collins is the only president I have ever heard complain about it. The reason why remains a mystery to me.

My question for John Collins then stands at: "Why are you so worried about being sued"


Feb 05 2007 15:18


Read the Court determination. It states quite clearly that ICU and its trustees are responsible for Felix, Live!, etc. People have threatened legal action in the past, indeed there were several out of court settlements last year resulting from Felix's conduct.

Sameena was just as worried about this as I am. She personally asked me to research this area of law on her behalf last year because she was concerned about her legal liabilities.

It's a legal anomaly and it probably needs fixing. Ideas on a postcard please.

Feb 05 2007 15:23

Test case.

Feb 06 2007 11:07

My question: with the new arrival of a Subway right next to SK station, who's been appointed to the task of convincing them to give me a 40% (50% before 9am) discount like we used to get at Earl's Court?

Feb 06 2007 12:28

Cynic: Hah, you make me chuckle. A truly independent editor, by your reasoning, would live in a box and refrain from expressing any opinion on anything.

Just because I seconded the motion does not somehow make me not independent. I thought it was right, though I had qualms with some of the points, and I think the censure was the right thing to do.

So there.

Feb 07 2007 19:59

a truly independent editor would observe union activity, not get involved.

felix should report what's really happening in the union without the personal agenda of the editor getting in the way

Feb 08 2007 05:28

Some people argue the very opposite and insist that the Felix Editor (as the only sabb without a vote on council) should be given more voting rights. Andy IS a voting member of council but only because he was elected as such (Non-faculty Postgraduate Representative) and therefore is an entirely separate entitlement which he has earned for himself.

I do not think that Andy has shown any personaly agenda in Felix - in fact I would commend Andy on a lot of the articles I have read because he remains unbiased or even sways towards the opposite side of an argument on accaision where his own views might affect his journalism.

23. Seb   
Feb 08 2007 11:55

I think Felix editor getting involved with politics outside that needed to keep felix financed is a major breach of etiquette.

The only reason as a Sabb he could stand for that position at all is the technicality that he is enroled on MSc in Felix or whatever the dodgy title is.

Come on, Felix editors are paid to run Felix, and I recon in future that loophole should be closed.

Feb 08 2007 12:05

What about the other members of Felix staff who are also members of Council?

25. Seb   
Feb 08 2007 13:08

Slightly less of a conflict of interest.

Editor decides content of Felix. Anyone can write for it.

Besides which, Sabbs are not normally considered (or at least not used to be considered) students, they ought not to hold multiple posts in that fashion.

Certainly, previous Felix editors (Will and Alex) were always very clear about not wanting to do anything to compromise their editorial independence.

Feb 08 2007 13:16

On the other hand, editors of Live!, who decide the content of an editorially independent, have often been on Council, and it's never been too much of a problem, just a question of judgement regarding what to write as news and when to write as opinion.

27. err   
Feb 08 2007 14:21

but then a lot more people read felix. it (traditionally) has more impact on student opinion and so the editor should be especially vigilant towards any kind of conflict of opinion

Feb 08 2007 14:37

So whatever opinions the Felix editor may hold, if he didn't have an actual vote on Council he would no longer hold those opinions and would remain opinionless on everything?

Anyway, my point was that it is possible to recognise a conflict of interests and act accordingly. If you can vote on a matter in Council and still produce a balanced report for Live!, surely the same is possible for Felix? Admittedly Live! tends to attract people of a higher intellectual callibre, but still...

29. Seb   
Feb 08 2007 15:18

We don't PAY the editor of live, the editor of live is a student rather than an employee who is technicaly registered as a student for arcane bureaucratic purposes of college.

Also, you look at only half of the problem. It's not whether the editor of felix is capeable of avoiding conflict of interest, it's whether the readers can be sure that the Felix editor doesn't have an interest in what and the way he is reporting.

It undermines Felix. With Live you know you are getting a hack talking shop, and you know it has a C&G slant and the editors are to some extent political involved.

I think it is reasonale for students to demand in future that if they are paying for an independent media sabbatical, they actually get an independent media sabbatical.

30. Seb   
Feb 08 2007 15:19

I think, for the record, that the Felix editor has done a fairly good job of being well ballanced. Hence the use of the word etiquette rather than anything stronger.

Feb 08 2007 15:30

For the love of FSM, people. I don't have an agenda. As for politics that would keep Felix financed, Seb, what the hell are you on about?

If any of you actually knew me, you'd know I only stood for that position to point out how foolish it is. The only people eligible for it are the sabbs (yes, by design it seems, Seb), and Tanaka folk. The sabbs could have stepped in and removed me, but they didn't. More fool them.

There's no conflict. I have my opinions; they go in my editorial. The news is a different matter, and I take care not to colour it with any of my own opinions, as any good reporter would.

Feb 08 2007 15:34

Oh, whatever. You're unhappy I hold this position. Would it satisfy you if I resign from it? Would that prove my independence?

I couldn't give one flying chunk of excrement whether I have a vote on Council or not. I'll end up going anyway.

33. Seb   
Feb 08 2007 15:39


No, I don't know you, and hence I've been careful to speak largely in generalities.

I didn't know you'd stood for it to highlight the absurdity, good that you have succesfully done so, but I'm surprised at your reaction to pointing out that it is absurd. Surely we agree then?

There is always the perception of a conflict of interest though. Like I said I don't actually think you have been distorting the news agenda or anything, but the possibility simply shouldn't be there (like President's getting to interpret the bits of the constitution relating to their own powers). Previous felix editors used to even refuse to second motions etc.

What I meant by involvement in terms of getting felix financed, I mean I don't see any problem with a Felix editor engaging in politics in so far as that relates to the technical issue of Felix.

Feb 08 2007 15:47


Yup, it's absurd; on this, you and I agree.

The possibility should be removed, I agree, and now I begin to see your point. It's not about me specifically (assuming you trust me, as you've said above), but about people who may fill this position in future. On that, you're completely correct; it shouldn't be allowed.

Feb 08 2007 23:34

Regarding the Felix "loophole" - I believe we closed this during the last governance review.


Feb 21 2007 19:20

This edition of the show is now online.

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