Consultation is underway on policy submitted in term 3. See here for more information.
Following a lack of feedback no policy was passed in term 2.
Following the PRG’s completion of the policy cycle in first term, in line with the Board of Trustee’s duties as YUSU’s highest decision-making body, the Trustees considered policy that has governance implications. On a day to day basis Trustees don’t generally get involved with the political or policy setting side of the Union’s activities, but the Board has a responsibility to ensure that all policy passed by the Union is consistent with YUSU’s charitable objects and interests and consistent with legal requirements. The role of the Trustee Board here and the provision for this is set out in clause 28.3 of the Union’s constitution.
This policy raises important issues about quality and consistency of support for students on LoA, proposing that the Union offers membership to students on LoA due to health problems and assesses membership (on a case-by-case basis) for those on LoA for disciplinary reasons. It does however, as written, raise a number of matters that need further exploration relating to: the development of different forms of Union membership, safeguarding and YUSU’s data sharing agreement with the University.
The Board reiterated a number of concerns about the feasibility of the policy that has been discussed with the proposer prior to submission. As an alternative to policy implementation, and in recognition of the importance of the issues raised, the Trustees have tasked YUSU’s staff team with developing a workable operations policy for the Union that takes account of the issues raised in the policy.
The Board has approved this policy with the following amendment:
Clause three in the section ‘YUSU resolves’ calls on YUSU: ‘To support any student that comes out privately as a sex worker to any staff member or representative of the Union, including supporting health, safety, and legal needs.’
To ensure that this resolution is reflective of YUSU’s primary mission as an educational charity and resource limitations, Trustees have amended this clause to insert ‘as appropriate’ at the end of the sentence, reading: ‘To support any student that comes out privately as a sex worker to any staff member or representative of the Union, including supporting health, safety, and legal needs, as appropriate.’
The first term of the 2017-18 academic year saw thirteen detailed and diverse ideas enter the policy process. Engagement with the policy process continues to remain high: a combination of Consultation Leaders’ accounts and individual students’ thoughts contributed to approximately ten thousand words of feedback for the PRG to digest.
The vast majority of feedback was positive, indicating widespread support from students for the ideas on show. Students approved of proposals for the Students’ Union to take a stance on the ‘Prevent’ programme, to actively support student sex workers, to hold termly gatherings for students of faith, to provide menus in large print and Braille at commercial outlets and more. The PRG’s full report can be read here.
In its meeting to close the policy process, the PRG chose to accept twelve of the thirteen policies submitted. The PRG deliberated for half an hour on one proposal, which called for the Students’ Union to readdress the boycott of the National Student Survey. Many students were concerned that this idea challenged the results of the recent referendum held at York, in which students voted against the Students’ Union encouraging a boycott. The PRG elected to reject this idea, but encouraged the proposer to make some changes and submit the idea again at a later date.
The policy process is enjoying a greater presence in the campus community. Last term saw five proposals put forward; this term sees thirteen! Like last term, feedback for the ideas has been thorough, providing the PRG with plenty of arguments from a wide range of students to consider. Also, the PRG has joined Facebook – you can find us here.
That said, there is still work to be done. Many students and commentators from the campus press have noted that just four students, two of whom were serving Part-Time Officers, were the authors of the thirteen motions. In addition to this, we only heard from one of the nine college committees during the consultation period.
Looking forward, I hope to encourage more students, regardless of their familiarity with the Students’ Union, to put forward their ideas for change. The policy process is open to all students at York. Any student can put forward an idea; any student can offer their thoughts in the form of feedback; and any student is welcome to attend and observe meetings of the PRG, which is also composed of students.
The policy process should be available to all and used by all, not simply by those most acquainted with the Students’ Union and its procedures. We are happy to help students craft their ideas into policy proposals – or, when possible, get to work on them straight away!
If you have an idea, whether researched and developed or just a thought, you can let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Who knows – you might end up making official Union policy?
Jack Harvey. For further information, contact the Policy Coordinator at email@example.com.