Union council last week decided to hold cross-campus referendums on two of the most controversial motions tabled at this years Students’ Union Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The motion for Sussex disaffiliation from the NUS and the motion for a ban on military recruitment at Sussex will now be put to the student population in referendums planned for next year.
While both motions were passed at the AGM neither was official as the meeting failed to have enough students. The AGM requires 406 students (5% of the student population) to attend in order to make motions that are passed automatically be put into the constitution. The number of students fell below these numbers and so the motions were passed to council as indicative votes rather than mandatory rulings. Council decided that in both cases the motions were so controversial and had such big implications for the constitution that referendums were needed to ensure popular support.
The issue of military recruitment on campus was very controversial at the AGM but was an area of agreement at council. The meeting voted unanimously in favour of a referendum so that the motion could be properly debated and give students a chance to have a clear and honest debate with reasoned responses. Dan Higgins, USSU Communications Officer, said “the very nature of referendums opens it up to both sides.”
‘Holly Chard, Chair of Union council, was quick to stress that a secret ballot was important to ensure that no pressure could be put on students’
To encourage discussion further, a number of structured debates are to be planned for the weeks in advance of the election, which will give students the chance to hear both sides of the argument. Holly Chard, Chair of Union council, was quick to stress that a secret ballot was important to ensure that no pressure could be put on students.
A number of other motions that were given indicative votes at the AGM were also passed officially at the meeting. The motions on Sussex Not for Sale and the Campaign for an ethical University were both firmly supported at the AGM and the Sabbatical Officers were instructed to carry out the “this Union Resolves” section of both. However, the motion in support of the creation of an International Students officer was rejected as it had been at the AGM. The motion on flight policy, which was not discussed at the AGM, was passed by Council with one vote against.