The Big Ask – Referenda Discussions & Your Opinions

11th February 2012

On Wednesday the 8th February we hosted a special programme looking at The Big Ask, a series of referenda that will influence the way the Students’ Union works.

There are four referendum questions being asked and we spoke to representatives from the yes and no campaigns for each issue. Here you can listen back to the discussions on each question.

Referendum 1: Should the Students’ Union adopt the new proposal for the Executive structure?

We were joined by Rosie from the yes campaign and Fran from the no campaign to debate the proposed reduction in the number of SU exec officers from 9 (8 full time, 1 part time) to 5. They discussed the effectiveness of the Students’ Union executive, how Nottingham compares to other Students’ Unions in the UK and whether or not you should be concerned about the merging of existing exec positions.

And here were some of your views on the proposal:

I agree with reducing operational tasks, because this would make the team more effective. But then reducing the numbers from 9 to 5 just counters all of that, doesn’t it? Why not have 9 efficient Exec, instead of 5? Anonymous

What students want is a more accesible SU exec!! Anonymous

Referendum 2: Should the Students’ Union adopt the proposed decision making structure?

Sam from the yes campaign and Fran from the no campaign joined us to debate the future of the SU’s decision making process. They discussed the ‘elitism’ of the current Council system, whether or not the proposed E-polls would work and whether the existing decision making structure could be improved without the new proposal.

And here are some of the responses that we got:

I think there is too much jargon! I don’t understand the system! Anonymous

As it stands anyone can submit a motion to Council, but many don’t know or don’t know how. How is putting it online going to fix that? Anonymous

The proposal changes the number of students with a vote on Council issues from 100 to 30. Currently, any student being able to submit a motion (an idea for change) to Council but the proposal says we would have to get them voted through an online popularity contest, with only the most popular 2 from each zone going through. I may not know a lot about jargon but I don’t think that looks like an improvement. Bez

Referendum 3: Should the Students’ Union enable students to be members of the Board of Trustees?

Sam from the yes campaign joined us in the studio and we heard from Rueben, who is campaigning against the proposal to allow regular students to sit on the Students’ Union’s Board of Trustees. We talked about whether students are aware of the Board of Trustees and what it does, the responsibilities that student trustees would have and the ‘selection’ process for choosing students under the proposed scheme.

Referendum 4: Should the Students’ Union enable the possibility of serving sabbatical officers to run to be elected for a second term?

Simon (from the yes campaign) and Joseph (from the no campaign) discussed the possibility of allowing current officers the chance to run for a second sabbatical year on the SU exec. We discussed the implications of the proposal, including whether a regular student running against a current officer would stand a fair chance at election, how two year sabbatical officers might affect the idea of ‘popularity contest’ elections and how Nottingham’s current rules compare to those of other Unions.

And this is how some of you reacted:

The argument that sabbatical officers shouldnt run for a 2nd term because other people should get a chance makes me wonder what the motivation is for this role. surely we want a better exec, not student opportunities? Anonymous

Whose to say that if we get two year sabbs in, it won’t go up to three or more??? Anonymous

As ever, you can let us know your thoughts on The Big Ask by leaving a comment below.