Warwick Students’ Union (SU) held its Term 2 All Student Meeting (ASM) on February 3, with clear tensions as debates on the student-led lectures, the No More Page 3 campaign (Page 3) and offensive themed costumes got under way.
The meeting focused on four main motions: ‘No More Page 3: Removing ‘the Sun‘ Newspaper From Campus’, ‘Clarifying Rules Regarding Themed Events’, ‘Support the Fossil Free Campaign On Campus’ and ‘Supporting the Two Tick Scheme’.
Before discussions on the motions, the staff strike was brought up by Miguel Costa Matos, Warwick Labour executive and second-year Economics undergraduate, who encouraged students to avoid using university services in support of the staff strike this Thursday.
Warwick Conservative secretary and second-year History undergraduate Remy Osman, however, reminded students that replacement lectures would be organised for the strike day, a revelation that was met by some cheers inside the room.
Mr Osman proceeded to challenge one of the sabbatical officers to attend the History Student Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC) meeting to discuss the issue further.
Lucy Gill, SU postgraduate officer, maintained that the SU supported strike action, referring to her blog post on the issue.
She stressed: “As students we do not exist in a vacuum… we need to think about the wider context of our actions.”
No More Page 3
The first motion, ‘No More Page 3: Removing ‘the Sun‘ Newspaper From Campus’, was then introduced by Louisa Ackermann, SU women’s officer.
Ackermann stated that the page 3 feature in the newspaper encouraged the culture of female sexualisation and asked: “Is it wise for the University to perpetuate images of women in this way?”
The motion was seconded by Ben Sundell, SU president, who urged that “Page 3 casualises and normalises sexism”.
One student questioned what the university’s stance was on this matter.
Ackermann stated that the manager of Costcutter, “hadn’t engaged” with the campaign. She also alleged that Peter Dunn, head of communications at the University, was less than impressed with the cause, comparing Page 3’s images of women to the naked calendars sold by Warwick Rowing Club.
Opinions from the floor varied on the issue. Jack Rankin, Warwick Conservative president and fourth-year Physics undergraduate, suggested that the SU “should be a basic organisation. If the Union comes off its core message, it devalues the Union’s impact. If people want to read the Sun, they can read the Sun.”
After debates on the issue, students took part in an indicative vote on the motion, resulting in an estimated 70 percent majority vote for the motion to remove the Sun newspaper from campus.
I feel that the welfare of women is more important than the welfare of people who really REALLY want to read the Sun. – Matt Davies, Politics postgrad
Regulation on offensive themed costumes
The third motion of the evening concerned the regulation of offensive themed costumes and events.
Ayesha Mittal, former ethnic minorities representative for Warwick Pride, came forward to propose the motion and clarified: “We’re not trying to ban anything, we’re just asserting a right to complain about it.”
She continued that she did not feel that the motion should have been passed to the ASM to be voted on by students.
Her latter statement reflected the general feeling in the room, as many students expressed confusion over the wording of the motion. There was a general consensus that the motion should not have been carried through to the ASM.
On carrying out an indicative vote, the vast majority of students present voted against the motion.
Fossil Fuel Campaign
The final motion of the meeting, ‘Support the Fossil Free Campaign On Campus’, was proposed by Theo LeQuesne, Warwick Green Party chair and third-year Politics and Sociology undergraduate.
LeQuesne highlighted that SU support for the campaign could ensure that the University removed its investments from fossil fuel companies.
Jack Rankin, however, urged that the University would in all likelihood ignore the motion, insisting that “a blanket ban on fossil fuel investment will not be beneficial to anyone”.
Lucy Gill opposed this stance and suggested that students should have an opinion and should ask the University to act on matters which are important.
Another student from the floor suggested that the student body does not unanimously believe in “man-made global warming nonsense”.
He continued that the University had shown some support for green causes by building windmills which “whirr around and don’t actually provide any electricity”.
He stressed that the University should not waste money that could be put towards students’ education.
The motion was summed up by the seconder Connor Woodman, second-year PPE undergraduate, who insisted students must not have a “pathological disregard for what university investments will do to the environment”.
The final indicative vote of the evening was held on this motion with the resulting vote largely for the motion.
There are a number of us who don’t believe in this man-made global warming nonsense.
The meeting also touched upon the Two Tick Scheme, a scheme to provide fair opportunities for those with disabilities, with the ‘Supporting the Two Tick Scheme’ motion. The motion was unopposed by the students present. The indicative vote on the motion demonstrated an unanimous support for the scheme.
While attendance was comparatively higher than previous terms, with an estimated 120 students, there were concerns that those in attendance were not sufficiently representative of the student population.
Other students were indifferent to the process altogether. First-year Economics student Saveena Magnat noted: “I won’t vote because I don’t think the issues are important enough… there should be an ‘I do not care’ option.”
Voting is open online from noon on Tuesday 4 February until noon on Friday 7.