This week Warwick voted in favour of four out of five motions proposed at the All Student Meeting (ASM), including defending academic staff from casualisation and statute reform, having greater say in the NUS leadership and calling Stagecoach to account.
Polls opened last Tuesday and closed at noon today, with 699 students casting votes, down just over 70 percent from last year, where turnout reached 2,339.
The Students’ Union (SU) put five motions to the student body, carrying all of them except one; the call to end to the National Student Survey (NSS) boycott, submitted by Rhal Ssan and Alexandra Bevis, which was rejected by 51 votes.
The NUS boycott began in January after government reforms to higher education in which NSS satisfaction scores were to be used in determining whether tuition fees should be raised to above £9,000 cap. Warwick, along with over 20 other universities including Oxford and Cambridge voted in favour of the boycott at the end of last year.
The motion ‘Should the SU run a campaign to sabotage the NSS?’ failed to carry in a referendum in Term 3 of last year with 561 in favour, 770 voting against and 672 students abstaining.
The motion for Stagecoach to “stop taking us for a ride” passed overwhelmingly, with only 28 against and 29 abstentions out of 642 voters. It called for students to formally register their dissatisfaction with the bus company in order to give the SU a mandate to secure a better deal.
Sara Boiten, who proposed the motion, commented: “We were really pleased to hear it’s the motion that passed with the highest proportion of ‘FOR’ votes, at 91%, out of the past 80 motions submitted to ASM.
“We’re really excited to have it passed and give a clear mandate for the SU to continue their great work tackling Stagecoach.”
Calls to defend Statute 24 and oppose the casualisation of academic and teaching staff both passed with majorities of 79 percent and 76 percent respectively.
This follows a campaign by Warwick Anti-Casualisation, culminating in the two-week occupation of the Slate at the end of last year, which demanded greater pay, employment contracts, equal access and collective bargaining rights for hourly-paid tutors.
The academic trade union, UCU, has been holding negotiations with the University over the Statute 24 reform, which they argue seriously endangers both the academic freedom and employment rights of Warwick’s staff. At a recent assembly, academics voted 97% in favour of rethinking the proposed reforms.
Warwick also narrowly voted in favour of holding elections to decide who their NUS delegates should vote for at the annual National Conference and, while supporters argued it would improve the democratic process, opponents said it would be a waste of resources and was likely to engage only a small fraction of students.
The University of Manchester already uses this system; however, only a few students and under half the candidates attended the hustings organised by their SU.
NUS delegate and English Literature finalist Uma Kotwal commented: “I am very disappointed to see that this motion has passed. While the proposers of the motion have legitimate concerns about SU and NUS democracy, this motion will be a step backwards.
“Instead of mandating our delegates in a way which limits Warwick’s participation in conference democracy and prevents us from expressing our wide range of political views, in future we should be looking at how we can make our delegates be more accountable.”
The students who proposed the motion have also been contacted for comment.
Last year’s referenda passed nine motions, on NUS affiliation, mental health provision, ethical eating, fighting anti-semitism, supporting hourly-paid teachers, opposing human rights abuses, opposing TTIP and deporting Theresa May.