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UPDATE: Response to Student Feedback on Inviting Political Parties onto Campus

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In response to recent feedback expressing concern with inviting political parties, in particular UKIP, onto our campus please see the following information:

UPDATE:

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Why have parties been invited onto campus?

This year, the executive officer team decided that encouraging students to engage in politics, register to vote and make an informed choice in the General Elections 2015 would be a priority campaign of ours.

Sarah Haider and Daryl Sharpe have lead on this campaign working closely with a member of staff in the Union, and decided that we would have ‘Registration Days’ whereby the local Council and the Students’ Union would stand alongside representatives from the parties standing for election to encourage people to think about registering to vote and to begin thinking about which party they may wish to vote for. We are engaging with NUS on various different tactics to get students to register to vote. For a full list of what we have planned so far visit: https://www.angliastudent.com/represent/campaigns/generalelection/

There is a full statement explaining why we are inviting all parties onto campus which you can find here http://www.angliastudent.com/represent/campaigns/generalelection/parties/

Why did we decide to take it to a full executive vote?

Late last night, we learned of student unhappiness with the Union inviting UKIP in particular onto our campus. Here is a Facebook group outlining the views of these students: https://www.facebook.com/events/545486262262702/?ref=ts&fref=ts

Some concerns raised were that UKIP have ideals which can cause distress to our students, and that by allowing them a platform to speak to students on campus there is no way we could monitor what could be said. With this in mind, and taking into account that this could apply to any person/organisation or political party representative, we took the decision to ask students whether or not we should hold the event.

We took it to our full executive made up of the Full Time Executive Officers, the Portfolio, Liberation and Faculty Reps. These students represent all students on our campuses and therefore can make decisions such as this based on who they are representing.

Why the 3.30pm deadline?

Reps were asked to respond to an email (which can be accessed here) before 3.30pm today. We apologise for the short amount of time given to our reps to make this decision, however, we really needed to take into account the people who had been invited from the parties. We needed time to contact them to ask them to cancel their plans of attending should this be the outcome. It would have been unfair to contact them any later than before the end of a working day the day before.

What was the outcome of this email?

We placed a quorocy at 50% of our full time executive +1 in line with other situations in which a vote is needed. This meant that to reach a decision by email vote, we needed 20 responses.

At 3.30pm, we had received 10 responses, and therefore the email votes became invalid and could not decide what happens with the event tomorrow.*

In this case, the decision came back to the Full Time Executive Officers. Below is the result of our discussions, taking into account all email, social media and in person comments and pieces of feedback.

  • Daryl Sharpe (President) YES
  • Megan Bennett (Communications Officer) YES
  • Sarah Haider (Experience Officer Cambridgeshire) YES
  • Aisha D’Souza (Academic Officer) NO
  • Ola Adetola (Experience Officer Essex) is away on compassionate leave and so was not consulted, since a majority was reached this was not a problem.

Final result: The “Meet the Political Parties challenging to win the Cambridge seat” event on Thursday 4th December 12pm-2pm in the Helmore Street will be taking place as planned.

What is in place to ensure the highest safety and welfare of our students during this event?

During this event, the representatives sent from each party will have to abide by rules set out by the Students’ Union, explained clearly to them on arrival. These rules will be available to view for all students from tomorrow morning, and any party contravening these rules will be dealt with accordingly. These rules will include clear outlines that they are on our campus to be approached by students to answer their queries and to get them thinking about politics and registering to vote. They are not on our campus to canvas for votes, they are not allowed to directly approach students for this purpose or any other.

There will also be a safe space clearly advertised to our students in Helmore 125 which is open to all during this event.

Who will be attending the event?

Representatives from:

  • Liberal Democrats

  • Labour

  • UKIP (UPDATE: UKIP are unable to attend the event)

  • Green Party

  • Conservatives (TBC)

You will be able to register to vote at this event.

Students who wish to partake in any protest during this event are reminded to do so safely and with the welfare of those around them in mind, and to do so peacefully.

*It may be of interest to know that if the email votes cast had been enough to meet quorocy, the event would still be taking place, as more voted YES than NO (or to abstain) If you wish to find out how your reps voted, please feel free to email Daryl Sharpe (President) or Sarah Haider (Experience Officer Cambridgeshire).

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