Last week Concrete broke the news that a union officer had been suspended from the LCR following their behaviour on a night out. Since this story broke, several conflicting motions have been brought against Jo Swo and will be discussed at union council.
Over the weekend we spoke to students on campus to gauge their reaction to the story. Although almost half of those surveyed felt that Miss Swo should remain in her position as Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer, most did feel that a line had been crossed and there should be consequences for her actions. On the whole however, there is a large amount of sympathy felt for Miss Swo, with many students of the idea that “we all make mistakes, particularly after a few drinks.”
With conflicting motions about to be discussed at council, there is confusion over the future of Miss Swo’s position at the SU. 62 percent of students we spoke to said that did not understand how union council works and, having spent most of the weekend trying to decipher the union bylaws, I don’t entirely blame them. As it currently stands, both a motion of no confidence and a motion to censure Miss Swo have been proposed for discussion.
As these motions have entirely conflicting consequences, the proposers of both motions may meet before council to decide which is a more appropriate course of action. Should this prove fruitless, the censure motion becomes an amendment to the no confidence motion, which will then be debated first. If this censure amendment is approved, then if the no confidence motion passes, it will be passed as a censure motion rather than a no confidence motion. In order for the no confidence motion to be passed, it now has to win two votes in its favour, the latter of which needs to be more than 75 percent. Confused yet? Me too.
Many students we spoke to felt that they did not how to get involved with union council, and it’s not difficult to see why. However, all that I can suggest is that if you feel particularly strongly about this, or any other vote, contact your union council representative to voice your opinion. Democracy only works when we get involved, which is perhaps why so many feel disconnected from the SU at the moment.
Concrete will be present at the union council meeting and will be livetweeting throughout the night. Make sure to follow the Media Collective on Twitter: we’ll be bringing you on up to date news, as well as many cat gifs. You can find us at @Concrete_UEA and @UEA_media.
Yet what was more worrying was that 48 percent of those we spoke to that said they feel that the students union does not accurately represent their views. I seem to find myself saying this most weeks, but it’s not been a good semester for our SU: from rent strikes, to calling poppies “oppressive”, to the actions of union officers, it seems that UEA’s 48 percent are once again sighing as they continue to feel disconnected from an institution that is supposed to represent them.
Yet it’s not all entirely bleak: this week, Campaigns and Democracy officer, Amy Rust will be publishing a major review into the SU Officer structure that aims to increase transparency within the SU and open up the leadership to more students than before. We can only hope that this will improve relations within an ever-fractured student body.
It is a shame that a lot of the good work being done by students within UEA as a whole is overshadowed by the actions of a few. Last week UEA SU celebrated Aids Awareness Week, aiming to increase visibility and campaign for PrEP to be offered on the NHS. It is thanks to the work of these, and others like them across the UK that a few days ago the NHS announced it would be funding a large scale clinical trial of the drug. I spoke to Kieran Burden who helped organise the week at UEA: turn to page 5 to read more.
Hopefully we will see you next semester on a more optimistic note, and with more positive change being enacted throughout the SU. In the meantime we hope you have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy your break. Thank you to all our incredible writers who made this semester so much fun, we couldn’t have done it without you.