Guild GM report

The first Guild general meeting, held on the 8th November, had a much higher than usual turnout, as it had been billed, in some circles, as the “Starbucks GM” Cynically, some might say the higher than normal turnout was as a result of the motion passed at last years AGM that requires two members of each club and societies committee to attend each GM but there did seem to be a genuine interest, on both sides of the debate, about the Starbucks motion being put forward.

Both The Courier and Bay Radio were covering the event, with Bay Radio providing a live stream of the event. The Courier provided a liveblog of proccedings on the night. AberTV did not put in an appearance. The Couriers live blog seemed remarkably popular, with 31 “Live readers” at the height of the Starbucks debate and voting.

The start of the GM was delayed by 21 minutes due to shambolic organizing by the guild chairperson. Once it did get underway, Mike Buchannan briefly explained what a GM and what it does, since there were so many new faces this time around, and then apologized for a number of administrative issues around the Guild.

Aside from DPC nominations being opened, Sabbactical officer reports followed next. Ben, the Guild President, went first, explaining that whilst he had many things in his manifesto to accomplish, the Arriva situation, when combined with the accommodation issues, had put many of these on the backburner. He also outlined that he is in the process of setting up a Bus Bursary for students(£10,000 provided by the University to provide financial support to Students who require the use of buses around town), as well as putting a sustainable admissions policy requirement to University management – hoping to force them to avoid a repeat of this years debacle.

Min was up next and to quote, he is a “man of few words” so kept his report brief. In a nutshell he is currently looking into restructuring the grant system for both societies and sports clubs to make the limited funds go further and work better. He is also working to try and make the societies grant a more credible amount.

Jess’s speech highlighted the success both her and Ben have had in getting a 24hr computer room set up in town (10 Laura Place). The most striking element of her speech was “love or hate Starbucks, you need to start loving or hating your education”

Toms contribution to this section mainly revolved around the Housing crisis centre he ran at the start of term, in response to the aforementioned accommodation debacle. He is also critical of student support services but calls for “intelligent action” rather than just action for the sake of action.

Tammys report was delivered entirely through the medium of welsh and no translation facility was available. She spoke of organising freshers week for the Welsh speaking community here at the university as well as being busy putting together ‘Dawns Rhyng-gol’ the Inter-collegiate dance. She made a particular note in her speech of the fact that UMCA had been praised for a lack of A&E admissions and police activity. She is now busy planning the UMCA Christmas ball.

At this point, Tammy raised the issue of  the lack of welsh translation at this general meeting, which was met with much support by many members present. This led, in turn, to Ben Meakin calling for a vote of no confidence in the chair, who highlighted that the booklet that SOME people had in front of them was only printed on the day of the meeting. At least two people wanted to speak against the vote of no confidence, but this speech was met with much less approval than Ben’s. A vote was taken, and the motion passed, meaning(for this meeting only) that the Guild Chairperson had to give up their position and the rest of the meeting was led by the DPC as a collective.

After a substantial period of time and some procedural issues concerning lapsing motions, the meeting moved onto the motions that had been put forward. The first concerned a change to Guild byelaws to allow the DPC to deal more firmly with disruption at General meetings. Despite some heckling over the definition of “disruption” this motion passed without major obstruction.

The second motion, put forward by Laura Dickens, concerned Alternative nights in the Guild and expressed the opinion that Unions nights are dominated by mainstream music. After a minor wording amendment, the motion was passed.

The first motion by Andrew Tindall was concerned with mandating the Guild executive to organise a walkout of students on November 30th this term. Adam Robertson spoke against the motion, but his speech did not go down especially well, with substantial booing. The Motion passed.

By far the least contentious motion of the evening concerned the spelling of the Union’s Bierkeller nights and the selling of German beer at such events. The proposers speech was very well received(not unsurprisingly) and he pointed out that whilst the issue was simple, a motion was deemed necessary due to the commercial services team(those who organize guild events) being uncooperative and unresponsive to such requests in the past through less formal means. There were no votes against this motion and it passed easily.

Another motion was proposed by Laura Dickens at this point, concerning students registering to vote in local elections. Students make up 60% of Aberystwyths population, but student voter registration is poor, which makes it easy for local councilors to dismiss the views of students. The motion passed and now mandates Tom Burmeister to implement its core principles.  However, some appear to feel that this motion involves a lot more work than many people believe.

I hope students understand that greater involvement in the town council is a big task. Passing a resolution is fine, but without the information or guidance from both the union or local political parties, student image could be seriously damaged” –  Comment from JEvans92 during our GM liveblog event

A carnage motion was also proposed, by Laura James, in light of a motion passed at last GM where Carnage was banned from the Union premises. She wanted to present a good side to carnage and suggest that its banning(there was some confusion here to where it was banned from – only the guild) was a knee-jerk reaction to the bad press. Ben Meakin spoke in opposition to Carnage being allowed back into the guild, largely on the grounds that in such a small place such as Aberystwyth the deals provided by Carnage promotions are not good value for money for students. Adam Robertson spoke briefly to suggest setting up a subcommittee to look into the matter – this was almost completely shot down for being unnecessary and unworkable. The amendment and the motion both failed to pass.

The centerpiece motion of the GM, the Starbucks motion will have its own writeup shortly.

In the “Any other business” section, the only noticeable objection was from our own reporter, Matt Calfe who was enraged by the “2 people from each club/society” rule instigated at the last GM.  Matt informs us that he is proposing a motion for the next general meeting to try and revoke this rule.