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Forty-five ideas for change sent to YUSU policy process

Image: YUSU
Image: YUSU
Image: YUSU

Students at the University of York have submitted forty-five proposals for change to this term’s first policy process.

The Policy Coordinator, Josh Mackenzie, has received forty-five submissions from students to the term’s first policy process, which runs from Week 1 – Week 5 of this term.

The number of policy proposals received in the first two weeks of this academic term is higher than the total number of proposals received in the space of a year.

Students are able to put forward their ideas for new policy of the University of York Students’ Union. Students can send their ideas to a policy process, in which these ideas are distributed among key student groups and representatives to gather a broad summary of students’ views towards them. The Policy Review Group, all of whom are student volunteers, use students’ feedback to decide which ideas should be formally adopted by YUSU.

Some motions are explicitly critical of YUSU’s recent performance. Chris Haley, the former Secretary of the Vanbrugh College Junior Common Room Committee, criticises YUSU’s promotion of college Freshers’ Fair tickets. After quoting an email sent to YUSU to request changes to their promotion of college tickets, Haley writes that “College events during Freshers week are the primary experience for students, and to not advertise them in a way that reflects this would be deliberately misleading.”

“Students show great satisfaction for College Freshers within surveys and YUSU should do all it can to assist Colleges in the promotion of College Freshers Week.”

In another policy, Annie Bocock suggests that YUSU creates “some kind of safe, therapeutic space” for students to speak about problems affecting their mental health.

Following her resignation as Editor-in-Chief of York Vision last week, Amelia Hubbard has submitted a proposal calling for the society’s de-ratification. Referring to her resignation and the resignation of Managing Director, Lucas North, Hubbard contends that leading a media society “can and has caused significant emotional harm” and that York Vision should be de-ratified “following proper investigations and prolonged and exceptional attempts of intervention.”

In addition, the YUSU Environment & Ethics Officer, Oscar Bentley, has submitted a motion calling for YUSU to change its choice of venue for the YUSU Summer Ball. Bentley, a prominent member of the Vegetarian & Vegan Society, argues that the Students’ Union should look for an alternative venue to the York Racecourse.

Among several submissions by Lucas North is the proposal for YUSU to stock “bendy straws in its commercial venues and at its events,” which should be “biodegradable when possible,” as well as a proposal for all mentions of the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ to be removed from YUSU documentation.

Submissions in this process ran until Friday Week 2; students will have Weeks 3 and 4 to respond to the policy ideas. During Week 5, the Policy Review Group will meet and determine whether students are generally in favour or against each idea.

Mackenzie intends to hold two policy processes in this term. This is a return to the format with which Mackenzie’s predecessor, Jack Harvey, broke. Harvey chose to hold a single policy process per term.

Mackenzie told The Yorker he was “delighted” that students are “so engaged in the policy process” and encouraged students “to submit detailed feedback so we can confidently determine how students feel about the ideas we’ve received.”

Harvey, the former Editor of this publication, who finished his year’s tenure as Policy Coordinator at the end of the last term, told The Yorker:

I am delighted to hear that Josh has received so many ideas for change. It’s great to see a wide range of students submit ideas. I only hope that there are not so many policies that gathering enough informative feedback for each idea will still be feasible.

A lack of feedback from a broad enough range of students caused the most recent policy process to end early. With the Policy Review Group’s unanimous support, Harvey brought the process to a close, citing a deficiency of feedback that the Policy Review Group would use to decide which proposals would become official YUSU policy.