Event Description

1st Week MT17 Student Council Minutes

Wed 11 October 2017 17:30-19:00, Worcester College, Tuanku Bainun Auditorium


Sam Banks, Chair of Council, welcomes students to first week Council and explains how the meeting will run.

Minutes of the previous meeting

An typo of Dane Roger's name in the previous minutes was noted.

Matters arising from the previous minutes

none seen.

Elections in Council

Jim Brennan, Returning Officer, introduces the Elections in Council with Alex Curtis being the only nominee for Steering Committee and Nominations Committee

Steering Committee member

Alex Curtis is the only candidate. A hust is requested.

Steering Committee member Hust

Alex Curtis introduces himself, explains the role of Steering Committee, that he was sat on Steering Committee before as Returning Officer.

Tom Barringer, Oxford SU: How will you navigate your two roles, steering committee and student trustee, to make sure there's no conflict of interest?
Alex Curtis, St Catz: We already have two trustees on the Steering Committee so it's just something we have to deal with.

Steering Committee member Vote Result

Alex Curtis: 47

RON: 9

Nominations Committee member

Alex Curtis is the only candidate. A hust is requested.

Nominations Committee member Hust

Alex Curtis, St Catz: We once again have positions which are unfilled. Nominations Committee is there to appoint External Trustees to the Trustee Board. This is a very important role. From sitting on the Trustee Board I know what makes a good External Trustee and as this position is vacant I'm happy to fill the position while no one else wants to do it.

Tom Barringer, Oxford SU: How will you avoid conflict of interest with being a student trustee?

Alex Curtis, St Catz: I'm not sure what conflict of interest there is. No one else is running for these roles so I think it's beeter to have someone doing the job than not.

Tom Zagoria, St Anne's: What ideas do you have to increase the number of people running for positions and if some were to run for one would you step down?

Alex Curtis, St Catz: I'd be happy to step down if wanted. I think we need to highlight what you can gain and contribute from doing these positions. Generally more information about what these roles are.

Nominations Committee member Vote Result

Alex Curtis: 38

RON: 16

Reports to Council

Sam Bank, Chair of Council, informs Council that Motion 3:Amending Oxford Students' Disability Community's (OSDC) constitution has been withdrawn.
A procedural motion is called to move Motion 4: Motion to end the wearing of scholar’s gowns to exams up the agenda. The Chair explains there is no formal procedural motion in the Rules of Council do to this but he will allow it. There was no opposition therefore Motion 4: Motion to end the wearing of scholar’s gowns to exams was moved up the agenda.

Motion to end the wearing of scholar’s gowns to exams

Sam Banks, Chair of Council, explained that this motion was coming back to Council following an All-Student Consultation. The results of which were:

For: 1214

Against: 2126

Abstain: 33

As this motion is following an All-Student Consultation it requires a simple majority to pass.

Speech in proposition

Michael Aguis, Hertford: When this motion was first brought it was in reference to various gaps in relation to race, gender and class. Also mentioned was stereotype threat. In first year exam results there's a gap between those who went to public schools and those who didn't which mean that tose wearing scholars gowns are more likely to have gone to a better school. If it is the case that the wearing of scholars gowns affects the performance of students in exams this should be deemed unfair and more important than tradition.

Short factual questions

Curtis Crowley, St Hugh's: What was the result of the consultation?

Sam Banks, Merton: For 1214, Against 2126, Abstain 33

Edward Love, St John's: Straw poll: how many people here have mandates to vote on this motion a certain way

???: How many people could have voted in the consulation? What percentage did?

Sam Banks, Merton: All Student members could vote so 22,000. The turnout was 13%-14% then.

Conleth Burns, New: Is there a precendent for Council rejecting the outcome of a consultation?

Sam Banks, Merton: This is the first consultation so no.

Speech in opposition

Alistair Hankey, St John's: The primary function of council is to represent the opinions of the student body. We just had a one person one vote consultation and the result is clear. The students of Oxford opposed the motion and that is a clear message to this council to strike this motion down.


Ava Scott, Hertford: Couple of years ago we voted to keep subfusc mainly because it creates a level playing field. This means people can't power-dress. Scholars gowns unbalance the playing field. Also, there's nothing stopping students just buying a scholars gown even if they're not a scholar.

Dane Rogers, Merton: To respond, seems to me that if anyone can buy a scholar's gown rich people are more likely to buy them therefore you're arguing for something which makes the inequality worse and is therefore an arguement for banning the gowns in exams.

Catherine Canning, Oxford SU: To clarify this motion the wearing of scholars gowns in exams not banning gowns all together.

Alex Curtis, St Catz: There was a lot of confusion about what the consultation was about. I therefore think we should consider the consultation as just one piece of evidence of what the student body thinks. I think we should support this motion on the grounds of the likely affects that seeing others wearing a scholars gown can have on performance.

Will Prescott, Univ: I'm a post grad so technically this doesn't affect me. I'm not convienced how much of a big issue this is considering the turnout in the consultations. Also, the numbers of votes was low but the outcome was clear that the motion should fall.

Move to vote heard

Speech in proposition: Alex Rostron, Wadham: We've had the consultation and this debate already. Most people have a mandate so we should just vote now.

Speech in opposition: Danny Hatem, New: Alot of people aren't mandate to vote and I'd like to get my question answered.

For: 40

Against: 12

Abstain: 5

Move to vote passed

Motion Vote Result

For: 16

Against: 36

Abstain: 8

Motion condemning harassment-discrimination

Sam Banks, Chair of Council, explains that a friendly amendment has been submitted for this motion:

"(replace from especially) notes 1: involving a characteristic protected in law, namely ‘age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation 

(add) notes 1.1: that the Equality Act 2010 does not include protections for paternity or non-binary parenting, gender expression, sexualities other than hetero/homo/bi-sexuality, wealth, income or class 
(add) believes 1.1: Oxford SU also condemns discrimination/harassment on the basis of characteristics listed in notes 1 and 1.1 

(change) resolves: to make believes 1 and 1.1 policy 

Proposer: Dane Rogers (Merton) 
Seconder Farheen Ahmed (Pembroke)"

Motion passed with no opposition

Changes to Elections

Sam Banks, Chair of Council, explains that this motion proposes changing the Bye-Laws and Regulations and therefore must pass two consecutive Council meetings must be discussed.

Speech in proposition Tom Barringer, Oxford SU: Last term there was a similar motion to this which fell. There were many reasons for this, namely that it wanted to change the Returning Officer role to a staff role, which Council disagreed with. There were, however, parts of the motion in 'notes 4' fell with the motion yet weren't objected to. Also, the fact there's a student Returning Officer with no oversight is still a high risk thing to have as outlined in 'notes 5'. We're trying to follow the advice of Council with keeping the student Returning Officer but making sure they can't do anything ridiculous. Governance needs to be built on a foundation of distrust and work despite the potential incompetence or maliciousness of those that carry it out.

Short factual questions

Tabitha Ogilvie, Exeter: I'm the Deputy Returning Officer, is this motion trying to abolish my role?

Tom Barringer, Oxford SU: Yes

Tabitha Ogilvie, Exeter: I took this role because I was maybe thinking of running for Returning Officer and thought I could shadow the Returning Officer as their Deputy. Do you not think there's value in that?

Sam Banks, Merton: I don't think that's a short factual question.

Dan Mead, St John's: Could you explain how you're going to constrain the actions of the Returning Officer?

Tom Barringer, Oxford SU: We'll introduce an External Appeals Officer who will ensure that the Returning Officer stays within governance. Council is too slow to do this as they meet every other week and Elections is a short period. This could be someone from NUS or an SU staff member from another SU.

Dane Rogers, Merton: In notes 4 you say you've removed the Budget Advisory group. What does that do and what will take on its responsibilities?

Tom Barringer, Oxford SU: The Budget Advisory group, in practice, doesn't exist. It's job is done by the Finance Committee which is made up of Trustees.

No speech in opposition


Tom Barringer, Oxford SU: To answer Tabitha's question; you spoke about removing the Deputy Returning Officer and losing the ability to shadow before becoming Returning Officer. Currently the Deputy Returning Officer has no function beyond sick leave for the Returning Officer. To keep the shadowing opportunity we are changing the Elections Committee to have three student memebers elected by Council, the Returning Officer and a staff member. They will make lots of directions before the election starts.

Tabitha Ogilvie, Exeter: So you're replacing one Deputy Returning Officer with three.

Tom Barringer, Oxford SU: Yes, because the jobs are very different. the Elections Committee makes calls on things like mailing lists. The Deputy Returning Officer doesn't have any 'powers' until the Returing Officer is unable to do something.

Sam Banks, Merton: Point of information; in the proposed changes the Elections Committee must, 14 days before the opening of nominations, make directions on mailing lists, social media and slates. They will also ensure elections are fairly and properly conducted.

Motion vote result

For: 37

Against: 7

Abstain: 11

Motion passed

Items for debate: Sabbatical Trustees running for re-election

Kate Cole, Oxford SU: We are pretty much the only SU in the country which doesn't allow Sabbatical Trustees to be re-elected for a second year. Just want to know what Council's thoughts on that are.

Alex Curtis, St Catz: I think it would be a good idea. There's a learning curve for Officers and allowing them to do an extra year means they'll be more experienced. There is the issue that they might become disconnected from the student body after a period of time though.

Dan Mead, St John's: I was on the Scrutiny Committee so I've seen two different Sabbatical teams and how they work over the year. I think it's a good idea to keep the current one year limit because Sabbatical Trustees get ground down over the year and new Sabbaticals bring fresh ideas.

Tom Zagoria, St Anne's: It would give a big advantage to those running for re-election as opposed to those running for the first time as they already have a bunch of achievements under their belt. 

Katy Haigh, Oxford SU: I'm in favour of allowing Sabbs to rerun. Although fresh ideas are good you're also naive at the start and by the time you've done a year you're likely only just getting to grips with the job. Also the university works slowly and having a Sabb working on a committee for two years would mean we could push more consistently for students.

Catherine Canning, Oxford SU: In regards to having an advantage when rerunning. A lot of things take two years or more to get done so I think it's optimistic to say they'll have a large amount of achievements by the end of one year.

Kate Cole, Oxford SU: It's a lot less common that those rerunning are relected in other SUs

James Brennan, St Peter's: I think this would increase the chances of contested elections. I'm generally in support.

Sam Banks, Chair of Council, explains that Alex Curtis has had to leave and therefore will not be presenting his report on the relationship between the Trustee Board and Council. Instead he will present at 3rd Week Council.

Any other business

Sam Banks, Chair of Council, outlines the progress on the Council Review mandated to the Steering Committee at 7th Week Trinity Term Council. He explained there would be a voting members of Council survey and an all student survey going out.

Catherine Canning, Oxford SU, mentioned there was a Suscam meeting on Thursday and encouraged people to like Oxford SU's social media pages.


Sam Banks closed Student Council

Meeting Documents