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[quote="steven"]Top class stuff, well done. Hopefully, it'll get squeezed into the Radish this time round (see Administration forum for details)[/quote]
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Guild and University
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Posted: Wed May 31, 2006 9:31 pm
Quality - I'd forgotten how funny this year has been!
Posted: Wed May 31, 2006 1:42 pm
I've squeezed it onto one of my pages, because it saves me having to write anything else.
Posted: Wed May 31, 2006 11:27 am
where do you think we should put it?
Posted: Wed May 31, 2006 8:26 am
Top class stuff, well done. Hopefully, it'll get squeezed into the Radish this time round (see Administration forum for details)
Posted: Wed May 31, 2006 2:16 am
There is no clapping emoticon, but imagine a round of applause.
Posted: Wed May 31, 2006 12:19 am
Post subject: A Year of Guild Council
We're apparently in need of articles for the radish, so heren is my poor attempt at making some sort of sense of GC this year. It is a little long, by about 200 words, if this is published, feel free to cut!
So another year gone, and what has been done? Well one is Guild Council, which has continued on its unstoppable path like a runaway freight train. At the beginning of the year I was a positive Guild politics virgin. Totally innocent to the ways and wills of Student politics, and naively believing that students all lived happily ever after in a world of more enlightened politics. I lost my student politics virginity by prostituting myself to Guild Council, as I was hoodwinked into becoming an esteemed member of that very same prestigious club.
My election was uncontested, and was therefore rapidly catapulted into this new world without having to lift a finger. The alarm bells should have started ringing at that point. An uncontested election? Not enough candidates to fill the posts? Surely this wasn't for the body that is the sovereign body of the Birmingham University Guild of Students? I thought this was supposed to be important? No matter, as at the time I wanted my piece of the pie. I wanted my say in how my Guild of Students was run, and this seemed the easiest way to do it. If the rest of the student body didn't want to get involved, this was hardly my problem. Oh how wrong I was!
The first Guild Council was confusing to say the least; Point of Informations, Clarifications, Procedural Motions, or just plain old normal Motions, the Standing Orders and the bye-laws. One needed a positive Dictionary of terms simply to understand what the hell was going on. Often, I found myself just sticking my voting card in the air, and just hoping that in doing so, that I didn't bring the meeting crashing to a close. Granted there was a training session before the meeting, which was very useful. If it had not been for this, I would have probably left the meeting believing I had ended up in the wrong room because of the lack of any intelligible English. Granted this does seem rather harsh, and this was not because of anyone in the room in particular, just the daunting nature of the institution and its terminology.
My memories of the second meeting are rather hazy, although I do seem to recall the PMSO (by proxy, he was in Prague at the time) comparing the SWP to the BNP (something about extremists). And another GCer accusing the SWP of being anti-American and therefore racist. This was all to do with a motion about supporting an international peace conference. Clearly student politics was anything but all nice and lovely with icing on top.
Over the year at GC we debated (or should that be attempted to debate?) issues such as a mayor for Birmingham, equal opportunities for homosexuals in the workplace, union workers' rights in Columbia, the National Blood Service, sweatshops, the AUT strike, exec revue and of course beloved BEUCU. By the third meeting I had managed to get to grip with Guild Council, and I even started to find it mildly interesting, and by the fourth meeting I had also managed to convince others to attend, (oh how they must now hate me for it!).
But as Guild Council continued on its annual course I to noticed things that were starting to annoy me. People would use Points of Information just to interrupt people's speeches, people would try and use procedural motions to disrupt the meeting, thinking it was a laugh. During the fifth meeting Guild Council decided, in its wisdom, to pass empty reports. At the sixth meeting a councilor starred the entire agenda. Meaning everything had to be discussed even though there was consensus, and the GCer in question did not really wish to speak on everything. Guild Council rarely questioned exec officers, or voted against exec on motions, lending support to those in the Guild who see GC as merely a rubber-stamp. These were all things which started to explain why we rarely managed to maintain quorum (50) and at one meeting we did not even have fifty councilors in the room to start the meeting.
Granted this low participation of Guild Council has to be put in perspective, only 10% of BUGS members voted in the elections, but this therefore means that the problem is actually worse. I have not been the perfect Ger, this is true, however what kind of example was I given? Granted some of the problems I have with GC are problems that come with the package that is politics, but why does the microcosm of student politics have to behave like the macrocosm of national politics? A badly functioning GC is not the reason for student apathy, but it is a small part of it. Yet GC should be the most important democratic organ in the Guild of Students, to become this, it needs a simpler way of doing things, but it also needs people. Students who care about issues, and who want to make some sort of positive change. If enough do take part, grinning and bearing the crap that does go on, then maybe, just maybe, the freight train, if it can't be slowed, can be turned onto another track, away from its current destination.
By Julien Pritchard, Humanities Guild Councillior 05/06
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