NO 2 LEICESTER SU VOTING CHANGES FOR DL, MATURE, POST-GRAD AND INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS.
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Currently, our four liberation officer positions (LGBT, Women’s, Disabled Students and BAME) are elected by students that identify as part of each group. However, the remaining four part-time officer positions can be voted for by any student. This means, for example, that undergraduate students are able to vote for the postgraduate officer, campus based students vote for the distance learning officer and home students vote for the international officer. Part-time roles are intended to be representative positions, and it has been suggested that we adjust election procedures so that only students within each part-time demographic can vote for that position. This sounds fine in theory, but I see serious issues in practice. A couple of these issues were raised at recent council zones. Firstly, that undergraduates going on to postgraduate study should be able to vote for the postgraduate officer. However, voting for the postgraduate officer doesn’t take place until October, which means that this would not be an issue. Secondly, there were concerns that this would have a negative impact on voter turnout. I don’t think this should impact the decision, provided the conclusion is that restricting who is eligible to vote in these categories ultimately makes the positions more representative.
Unfortunately, based on my experience of previous elections, I don't believe this can be made to work as intended. With the proposal being taken to the final Council of the year, a motion for a referendum could be raised, but would probably not be passed. I am only able to speak on behalf of Distance Learners and the Postgraduate Officer, but we don’t want to see this go through. With only 2 Distance Learners on Union Council, I feel it is unfair for Council to make this decision on behalf of a group of students with whom the SU has very limited communication. Democracy and fairness demand that these students should be given the chance to vote on a decision which directly affects them, instead of Union Council deciding for them. The Students’ Union would do better to solve the real problems of communication and engagement before changing the voting system in a way that by itself will not make things any better.
To hold an SU referendum in this issue, we need 200 signatures. Students will then be able to have their say on the proposed voting system. My view is that this proposal would only further alienate Distance Learners. Based on problems with previous elections, and with Distance Learners not being able to contact other DL departments, communication has to be a higher priority for the SU than the voting system, PLEASE ADD YOUR UNIVERSITY EMAIL ADDRESS WHEN SIGNING TO PROVE YOU ARE A STUDENT THANK YOU AS THIS WILL BE NEEDED FOR EVIDENCE.
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