Guild GM 8th December 2011

Despite a poor venue choice, this months Guild general meeting was a suitably lively affair, with the Guild chairperson opening the meeting by offering his resignation. Jonathan Hendry then chaired the rest of the meeting in his place.

After some meeting formalities(including opening elections for the Elections committee: more on that later on) and sorting out the translation equipment, we heard from all the full time Sabbatical officers, starting with the Guild President Ben Meakin.

Ben discussed acquiring a £10,000 fund for a bus pass subsidy to help those students who have been forced to live “out of town” as a result of the housing situation in Aberystwyth and thus are reliant on a bus service to get to campus but cannot afford the extortionate Arriva pass this year. He also highlighted the letter that he sent to Leighton Andrews’ proposal for a merger of Bangor and Aberystwyth University (sometimes referred to as Bangorystwyth)

Once he had finished his speech there were quite a few questions, from both Kieran Ford and Eric Bunyan about Starbucks and bunk beds. On the Starbucks questions Ben argued that he thought the last GM acted as consultation on the issue but he prepared to accept further consultation on the matter.

Min was next to report. “Short and sweet” as usual. Just a quick round up of sports and societies related information touching as well upon the grants system. There were no questions for Min. “Much easier ride than Ben!”

Jess Leigh’s report followed, with questions following from Ainsley Gilbert and Robert Hardware both concerning the policy on late submission of coursework, which is something that Jess is working hard on that the moment.

Tom “Poncho” Burmeister apologised from the outset for the lack of written report from him in the booklet but explained that he’s been extremely busy this week with accommodation and student welfare issues. He’s working towards, with others “One form to rule them all!” when it comes to a wide range of student welfare issues. Last week, the week of the GM was also “Housing Week” where he’s been providing advice and information to students about the pitfalls of the Aberystwyth housing market as they move into private accommodation in their second year.

Tammy was last up, utilising the translation equipment that had been provided this time around to ensure all English speaking students could hear an English translation of her speech in Welsh. There were some problems with the volume on the translation equipment, but this was probably concerned with the translator as opposed to the equipment.

Ben was back again after Tammy’s speech to present the Guild budget for the year. Last years deficit stood at £61,000, which will only rise this year. Kieran Ford asked another question, this time concerning ways in which staffing costs can be reduced – Ben’s response was that one staff redundancy has already been made over the summer and he didn’t think any more could be made without cutting core guild services. Questions were also raised about what we as a Guild get for our NUS subscription

Just under an hour into the meeting the DPC moved onto discussions about the proposed motions. The first one was “Reviving the guild’s dying democracy” which was put forward by Rory Roberson.

“This motion condemns all those people that have done wrong!”

The next motion on the agenda was a rehashing of a motion from last year concerning the sale of Real Ale proposed (on both occasions by Ainsley Gilbert) in the Guild bars. In a nutshell, this motion instructed the guild to do “Real Ale properly” The Motion passed after many questions about feasibility

“I’m not asking for a tap, just bottles that aren’t frozen”

After a motion concerning housing the next motion was concerning lack of communication by Sabbs about what they get up to. The Sabb team seemed generally in favour of this motion.

Ble Mae’r Gymraeg? (Where’s the welsh?) was up next. This motion concerned the disregard for upholding bilingualism within the Guild. There was talk about the “Billingualism committee” which now no longer exists and has been replaced by a steering group on the issue. The motion eventually failed

A living wage motion, pushing for the Guild of Student and the University to provide all of its staff with a living wage (which it currently does not do) passed after some wrangling over whether the Guild can and should be brought into this issue. After an amendment was put forward by Ben Meakin, ensuring that the Guild push for a greater block grant from the University in order to pay for this increased cost, the motion was voted on and passed with significant support.

There was one final motion which was looking at moving away from a General meeting model towards an elected assembly of students. This provoked quite a reaction in the room from some quarters. Some argued that there hadn’t been enough consultation on the issues involved here. Ben Meakin responded to this by saying that it wouldn’t be a direct move from GM’s to elected assemblies but that there would be Working group established to determine the best course of action and the exact make up of the elected assembly.

“I don’t want this motion to become the working group”

The Motion eventually passed and its implementation shall now be dealt with by a working group who shall report in due course.

Before the meeting closed for the evening there was one final, but very important, emergency motion to deal with which concerned an updated bilingualism policy for the guild. As one tweeter pointed out on our live blog, the meeting, at this point, was inquorate (not enough people in the room in order to make decisions legitimate and binding) but the motion discussion went ahead regardless. The Courier’s own editor, Steffan Storch, spoke to move an exemption for The Courier from the meetings section to the exemptions section of the policy. The Courier is exempt from bilingualism to ensure editorial separation from the Guild as well as for logistical and practical reasons surrounding printing.

“We’re not asking for priority, just equality” – Tammy Hawkins

 

After this motion had passed, the four nominees for the Elections Committee were announced and since there were only 4 places available these people were elected to the committee.

Those people were as follows:

Mike Buchanan

Huldah Knox-Thomas

Keiran Ford

Thomas Tudor Jones

Shortly after 2115, the meeting finished its business, having run for nearly two and three quarter hours.