Warwick Students’ Union’s Board of Trustees has chosen to prohibit the implementation of Policy 774, Boycott Bacardi.
Following a meeting on Wednesday 7 December, a statement was published on the SU website which stated that “The Trustees consider that the proposed wording of the motion and particularly the notes and beliefs expose Warwick SU to undue legal and financial risk… The Policy has been overridden as it was felt that the decision made on November 29 was, in part, made on the basis of allegations that cannot be sufficiently verified.
“Students remain able to impose a boycott on Bacardi products; however, the Trustees cannot permit Union policy which exposes Warwick SU to financial and legal risk by virtue of its wording.”
The Board of Trustees have made amendments to the policy, which will now be reviewed at a General Meeting, to be held on Monday 23 January 2012. The statement published online clarified that “Students remain able to impose a boycott on Bacardi products”, but that they would not be able to do so given the existing wording of the policy.
Jackie Smyth, the SU Marketing Manager, is responsible for the Union’s relationship with Bacardi. She said that “It is important that the wording of the motion is such that no-one, including the Union, is put at risk.”
SU President Leo Boe commented: “we’ve done what we think is the responsible and just thing to do. Chairing the trustees meeting where this was discussed was by no means comfortable, but the result is a necessary evil. I hope the union’s credibility is not put at risk and that the decision taken will be seen as a responsible and necessary move.”
Chris Luck, SU Democracy Officer, said “While another General Meeting is a significant extra thing to take on, we firmly believe that it the right thing to do.”
Student opinion was varied. One student who supported the ban and who wished to remain anonymous, commented: “It does seem like they’re doing this because they care more about upsetting companies who might be unethical, and care less about whether the claims of them being unethical are authentic or not.
“If the Board can overturn things when most students are away for Christmas, that makes me very apathetic and untrusting of them… I don’t know if many people will turn up for the next general meeting if they feel the last one was a waste of time.”
Second-year councilor Aidan Hocking said: “Obviously the trustees were concerned about the risk element, which is a shame but I do understand where they were coming from. I’m glad we’re having another General Meeting so we can amend the policy and make sure we get the balance right.
“I am concerned that, after having a General Meeting already this year, it might be hard to reach quorum a second time. We really need to be proactive in taking the opportunity it offers to make big decisions that effect positive change for students and society.”
The original statement published by the Board of Trustees is available below:
_Policy 744, Boycott Bacardi, passed at Union Council (14/11/11) and subsequently at General Meeting (29/11/11), was discussed in depth by the Board of Trustees (7/12/11). The Trustees consider that the proposed wording of the motion and particularly the notes and beliefs expose Warwick SU to undue legal and financial risk.
The Memorandum and Articles of Association, the Union’s Governing Document, states that the Board may choose to prohibit the implementation of any policy recommended by Union Council which has financial implications if it is passed without a realistic financial plan, is detrimental to reputation or is not legal. Following very careful consideration it was felt that Warwick SU would be exposed to undue legal risk with Policy 744 in its current form.
Our legal advisors have reviewed the motion and have proposed revisions that remove this risk. The Trustees do not feel it is appropriate for them to make this decision on the members’ behalf and therefore decided that the revised Policy should be sent back to a General Meeting for the members to decide. The Policy has been overridden as it was felt that the decision made on November 29 was, in part, made on the basis of allegations that cannot be sufficiently verified. Students remain able to impose a boycott on Bacardi products; however the Trustees cannot permit Union policy which exposes Warwick SU to financial and legal risk by virtue of its wording.
This General Meeting is to take place early term 2. Any member is able to attend and have their voice heard. Further details will be available in the new year._