Third Week in OUSU Council: Time Can Be Rewritten

‘OUSU Council is the decision making body of OUSU – a kind of student Parliament.’

At least, that’s the idea. Two weeks ago Council was on the front page of the Cherwell- the combination of poor chairing and a lot of first timers at Council had resulted in chaos in its first meeting of the year. I was there, and I can tell you that it wasn’t pretty. There was procedural motion after procedural motion, objection after objection. We were trying to vote on whether OUSU should support free higher education, but you wouldn’t have known it from the debate that we had.

We decided to postpone the vote and ask each JCR for their opinions. Catz JCR debated and voted: with 131 votes in total, 67% of us supported the motion. Yesterday OUSU Council met again, and it seems a significant majority of colleges agreed with us; the motion passed comfortably. But it passed with a Catz amendment-we asked for the removal of all references to modelling our university system on Germany’s. This was met with laughter and cheers. I also got an answer to a question that came up in our JCR debate: I can confirm that the fact that we now support free higher education will not prevent us from welcoming suggestions to lower (but not abolish) tuition fees.

The OUSU VP for Welfare and Equal Opps, Chris Pike, has just been suspended after complaints were made. We don’t yet know what complaints; the procedure requires that everything remains confidential until the investigation is over.

It’s a similar story with the NUS referendum that happened last term. Someone had hacked into OUSU’s computer system and voted 1000 times, again, the investigation is ongoing and until it’s over we won’t be told anything about who or exactly how.

One more thing to report. When I stood to be your OUSU Rep, I made one promise. I promised to put a motion to Council to set up a website where any student could tell OUSU what we think they should be working on; for us to give them our ideas. My point was that by making it easier for everyone to engage with OUSU, it’d be able to work more on the things we as students actually care about. Everyone would be able to see, and even vote on, other people’s suggestions. ‘I’m not Nick Clegg’, I said: I would definitely definitely definitely be keeping this promise. Negotiations with OUSU’s Exec followed. Louis Trup, OUSU’s President, agreed to second it. Drafts were circulated. Speeches written. The final motion submitted. It was due to be debated yesterday. Except, it wasn’t debated. There was no opposition, no one had anything to say against it. They didn’t even bother to get me to do my inspiring speech: the motion just passed automatically. Yay!

OUSU is very far from perfect, but I think it’s now heading in the right direction. We can’t change its past, but we can be a part of writing its future.

Christopher Casson

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