Posted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 7:41 pm Post subject: Liberation officer's and their associations
For the sake of debate - and an issue i think people want addressed i'm going to bring this up. We have associations, they provide welfare to their causas and represent them and campaign on issues etc. Each assocation has a convenor. We now have liberation officers. These are , bizarely, not elected by the causas but in a cross campus ballot. Liberation officers are therefore seperate from their assocation. Do we believe this to be a good state of affairs? I presume the Liberation Officer is designed to lead the liberation campaign however would this not conflict with the convenor. And why, if their a causas, are they elected in a cross campus election. I'm not saying we should get rid of our liberation officers at all, its just i think the situation could be reviewed to make it work better.
I am glad we don't have executive officers who are elected by anything other than cross-campus ballot (however unrepresentative that is in practice).
Then again do liberation groups need executive representation at all... why do we have specific LGBT, women, BME exec officers when in practice Exec is not underrepresenting these groups, and in any case should an exec be about being a cross-section of students or about being a good team to execute the wishes of the legislative. Is it not more important to make sure GC is both effective and representative of our membership?
Yeah I definitely think it would be very wrong to have Exec elected by anything other than cross-campus (which I believe was proposed til Jon ruled it ultra vires) as exec are also supposed to represent all students so it would be wrong to have votes that are binding on the whole Guild made by people only representing part of the Guild in my opinion. (I suppose you could say that about GC but there's a much larger size with each society having a vote etc. so it's not such an issue).
Plus it would be wrong for what are in some instances about 5 people in regular membership at an association getting to elect 1 exec and 2 GCers.
i can understand the sense in both- but I think that liberation officers being elected by thier caucuses is a great idea, simply because I feel that its more democratic to be elected by those who self define as the 'thing' you are going to represent., and those people should have the right to elect the person they think is going to represent them best.
This indeed does pose a problem because of the strengths of the associations- i think we need to build up the associations so that they are in a stronger position to become a strong democratic caucus.
This works well in NUS, because the liberation officers on the NEC are elected by autonomous liberation campaigns, at conferences attended by many many people who self define into that liberation campaign.
While there are benefits of that set-up I think it would be wrong for them to have a vote on exec if they weren't elected cross-campus as that is how exec should be elected. If we were going down the route of having them elected by the association it would be better in my opinion to have the association chairs/convenors sitting on exec rather than elect a chair and officer presumably at the same time.
My question about having their caucus elect them is, how would it work? How would we know who got a vote? Would you have to go to a specific meeting at a specific time to vote? And what if you didn't want to openly admit to being, for example, LGB or T? You surely still deserve a vote, but how would you get it?
A couple of us have been talking about this already.
First off, it seems like a waste to have more than one person effectively doing the same job. For example, it is the job of the womens association to promote womens issues on campus, and this is also the job of the womens officer. So already you have more than one person doing the job, which inevitably (and I've been victim to it) leads to communication breakdown. Which means the students being represented (ie women) are losing out. I'd be tempted to say that we need a system where the caucas only elects either the convener or the exec officer (not both, mind you, as there only needs to be one position). If the convener is elected, then they get some sort of vote/link/something with exec - if an exec officer is elected, then they become convener. I've got no problem with only the caucas electing the relevant officer - I don't need representing by the BEM officer so why should I vote for them? It works fine at Auckland Uni so I don't see why it shouldn't work here.
As for how to manage the vote, it can't be done unless e-voting is implemented. I'd imagine there to be an option when you log on to vote where you have to tick a set of boxes along the lines of are you female/disabled/minority etc etc and then the voting options are open in accordance with this. _________________ http://www.flickr.com/photos/hannoir/ - check out my photos....
I agree with Hannah's comments. It's an absurd situation, having two people performing the same function (and sometimes at odds with each other, from what I hear). Also, the exec liberation officers have no direct accountability to those they represent other than the fact that they are accountable to the student body as a whole in the way any exec member is. This has got to be wrong. Let's scrap the liberation officers and have the convenors representing their associations (and thereby their constitutents) at exec, in some form or another.
people not going to associations does not nessesarily mean they are happy, apathy is usually due to people not believing they can make any difference or because they think the current system is at odds with their point of view.
They could also not know of either their existence or of what they do, or because they have a preconceived misconception of what they are like.
You build up an association by showing people that it actually does stuff and they they can make a difference if they go to it.
I'd say the liberation officers are instrumental in making sure associations are able to do stuff properly. We've seen increase in activity from all the associations this year.
The election by cross campus ballot and the fact we are actually separate from associations I think is quite important. We are actually part of the exec, and not just people who are put onto the exec by the associations, whereas just having the association head go to exec meetings would be different as, they would be an outsider and not really part of the exec. Also, the would not have time to both organise the internal workings of an association and do the whole 'exec thing'.
Also there is the problem that associations can easily be subverted, it only takes the chair and a few other committee members to effectively take over an association and then we end up associations becoming ineffective, saying, we're not political, we only do welfare, or only telling people on thier little mailing list when meetings are or only posting it on little forums that noone reads except for the committee, and there's nothing anyone can do to sort it out cos they don't know when the meetings are or anything, so the same little group keeps control.
With the cross campus ballot, its harder to do that, you can't take control with just 6 mates, and you can't have a shitty little AGM nobody turns up to so you can make sure your mate gets in as successor.
I have mixed feelings on the idea of having the cacus elect liberation officers, noone is suggesting only home students elect the home student officer, or that only postgrads elect the postgrad officer or only international student only elect the international students officer.
Exec officers are also student officers and are there to represent all students not just their own people. as such, we should be elected by everyone.
Secondly, at womens association, the quorum is 20 people and they never make it. How exactly would that be representative of the whole campus? I'm certain the opinions you would find in the tiny minority that actually go the WA is pretty unrepresentative of women on campus.
Also, sometimes associations forget who their members are, they talk about 'the members' when they mean 'people who come to events and meetings' or 'people committee members know' and they call members they don't see 'non members' and they say, let's try and get more members and they say, 'we told all the members about the AGM', when what they mean is we told people we know about the AGM. now is it a clever idea to put the same people in charge of running elections for exec?
Association elections are utter shit, you don't know who the candidate are until you get the the meeting and someone nominates themselves and then they have no manifesto, and don't even have to have any policys at all, because they only have a 2 minute speech, but then the chair is too lazy to hear all the speeches so they cut it to 1 minute and they make answers to questions only 30 seconds and then it goes straight to the vote and people vote on who spewed out the best sounding meaningless rhetoric in 1 minute, even if it was full of lies and noone can call them out because it goes straight to a vote, or which onone even hears or records the vote count. Now, do we really want this to be the way people are put on the exec? careerists will abuse it so easily in order to get on exec and enhance their CV or get their first step up the slippery pole of politics.
Now, the idea of having the ballot paper say, only women can vote for woman's officer, only LGBT people can vote for LGBT officer etc, of course, people could just ignore it and vote anyway, but then, they could just say they self define as it and vote anyway, so there's no difference.
I'm waiting for the right moment to weigh in on liberation officers tho and that moment is yet to come...
I still think if you're gonna let liberation officers vote on things like (to quote from another thread) "whether we have an alternative prospectus" then they should be voted for by all members of the Guild, regardless of how crap/weak associations are.
I also think that cross-campus ballot gives them a legitimacy which can't be said for convenors, not only in theory but for all those practical reasons Oktober outlined so well already.
Also I think separating liberation officer as a separate category to other non-sabbs is not a good idea in my opinion, but I think it would work if the other non-sabbs were split into campaigning (CAO, EEO, ARAFO) and representation (PMSO, ISO, HSO and SSO) sub-categories as well. Otherwise it implies a lesser status even though this is not actually the case (except in trustee decisions).
If the trustee set-up is changed so only sabbs (plus external (non-uni) people) are on it then there won't be reason for the separate status. I'm not convinced by the current set-up where say the ISO is a trustee and the BMESO isn't purely by default of position. I get the argument that liberation officers have a different status as they don't want the trustee element to put people off, but I doubt most ISOs run wanting to be a trustee. If they were all equal people wouldn't be discussing chucking the 4 off en masse while keeping all the other positions without question. Some liberation officers have a better resources attendance rate than some trustee non-sabbs so it would have made more sense to have internally elected 7 of us onto the trustee board so that people are on it that want to be. This is all irrelevent though with the potential change.
Liberation officers do get far more support than association chairs so that's a difference and electing them cross campus gives reason for this, an association chair sitting on exec would get less support as they would be seen as less than an exec member and have little justification of their equal vote on exec with someone elected cross campus.
Agree that scrapping the positions is wrong especially after one year as I feel they have been successful (at least on a par with other non-sabb positions) and scrapping them shouldn't be considered at this stage with a review in a couple of years of whether they've been a success or not would make sense, they can't be judged on the officers from one year.
Total agreement with above post, the only reason why the liberation officers thing was thought up was so that they could maintain the 7:7 ratio of sabs to nonsabbs on the Trustee board, if that hadn't have been an issue then we would be the same as the other non sabbs and wouldn't be seen as an easy target for people wanting to attack exec jobs. I'm pretty certain ARAF officer, or ComAc officer would be the favourite one to have a go at.
You could equally line up ISO, PMSO, ARAF, ComAc, E&E, and claim all are redundant because of associations and standing societies doing the same thing.
Also, on a another point, it was suggested that the associations could elect the officers if they were built up to a decent size, however, this would leave them open to the same vunerability that those associations could easily be messed up, it only take 1 year of a crap committee chair to wreck an association, and then you're back to 7 person meetings. The Exec officer acts as a kind of anchoring force there, as even if the association gets cocked up and it effectively dies, (as SWD has in the past), previously, it was hard for people to bring it back, but it is a lot easier if there is an exec officer to co convene associations and bring them back if they get messed up. Having the associations and the exec officer elected in different was means they act as a check and balance on each other and so make sure they are doing their jobs correctly.
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