Assembly policy handling sparks criticism

YUSU Women's Officers, Cat Wayland and Nell Beecham, have talked to The Yorker about their concerns ©YUSU

Concerns have been raised over the function of the Liberation, Diversity and Welfare Assembly after a heated debate on whether YourShop should sell ‘lads mags’.

The assembly was asked to consider a policy from YUSU Women’s Officers Nell Beecham and Cat Wayland surrounding the banning of pornographic magazines from YourShop.

However complaints have arisen from the officers that debate focused too significantly on the merits of the proposal, rather than a constructive debate on how it could be put to the student body.

YUSU by-law 5 outlines that assemblies should “receive, discuss, amend and vote on policy ideas to be put to Referendum by an Officer or Committee within that Assembly”.

Beecham told The Yorker: “The assembly was designed to constructively discuss and aid the motion that Cat and I were planning to submit.

“The debate was not meant to be that of whether the motion was good or bad. Unfortunately it turned into this, and many other points surrounding liberation groups were raised.”

In the ensuing debate various people who attended the meeting posted critical tweets, with one individual tweeting “apparently @YorkUniSU already passed a motion banning informed political analysis from assembly meetings”, with another individual tweeting “turns out LWD committee are in favour of objectification of women”.

Several other allegations were made against those who were speaking about the policy proposal as some felt comparisons drawn by speakers were offensive.

Beecham added: “Whilst we have no doubt that these were meant with no malice, it did highlight certain points of unawareness on the subject of liberation.”

It is as of yet unclear whether attempts will be made to push the subject to a student-wide vote through a YUSU referendum.

In May 2011 a motion was put to the student body to cover up lads’ mags in YourShop in the now defunct “Union General Meeting” format. The motion failed by 496 votes to 412; however this would be the first motion to deal with the question of whether the union shop should sell them at all.

Beecham told The Yorker: “We do believe the motion is necessary, we find it difficult to comprehend why our SU should profit out of the objectification of women’s bodies.

“This is not a debate about whether or not an individual should buy these magazines, we believe if an individual so desires they are perfectly entitled to walk to a local newsagents and purchase such material.

“But in an institution which aims to value each student for their mind and intellectual capability, we must then ask why it sees fit to profit from the sexualisation and objectification of 50% of them,” she added.

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