Seeing as most of you who will be reading this statement will be wanting to find out whether the Union will be providing transport for the national demonstration for free education on 19th November, I can tell you in spite of a student council vote in favour of this, the Union will not be providing transportation.
If you would like understand the justification for this, the following is a run down of all the processes leading up to this decision...
On October the 28th, the Students' Union had its first Student Council for this academic year. For those that don't know, Student Council is a democratic decision making body of the Union with a membership that consists of: All elected officers, Liberation reps, academic School reps and Clubs and Societies reps.
At this Student Council meeting, a paper was brought from our Religions and Belief's rep regarding organising transport to take students to the demonstration.
This can be viewed here.
The motion to provide transport (to be paid for by the Union) was put to a vote at the meeting and was passed with a large majority in favour.
On November 6th, NUS (National Union of Students) released this statement, announcing they were withdrawing support from the demo due to their health and safety requests not being met to their satisfaction.
Shortly after this, Bath Spa Students' Union recieved a statement from our Insurers saying they recommended against sending students to the demonstration due to their concerns regarding NUS withdrawing support, health and safety and the lack of public liability insurance at the event. Insurers in this context, are there so that if a student was to get injured at the demonstration and decide to claim against this injury, and if the claim could be put down to poor organisation or information from the Students' Union, then the insurers would pay the compensation for this.
In the event that a decision at Student Council is deemed to carry financial or legal risk to the Students' Union, then it is referred to the Board of Trustees to consider. Which is what happened with regard to this decision. It is important to note that the board do not consider the validity of the Student Council decision, this is formally the responsibility of the Student Council members, they only consider the associations around financial and legal risks related to those decisions.
The Board of Trustees is made up of the three sabbatical officers, five students officers (all of whom are part of Student Council) and four external volunteers brought in for their expertise related to the board's remit. The remit of the board primarily includes: legal responsibility for the activities of the Union, financial overview and vision and strategy.
So I wrote a letter to the Board which was sent on Tuesday 11th November, requesting that all members take into account all the information up that point and vote Yes or No as to whether the initially approved motion at student council should stand.
The vote was 8 for 'No', 3 for 'Yes' and one Trustee abstaining (although this wouldn't have swung the vote anyway).
You can read my letter to the Trustees, which includes statements from the insurers, here.
I'd like to make it clear to students that I followed a democratic procedure here in line with the Unions constitution, but my position was and still is that the Union should organise transport and support at this demonstration for free education.
Despite the fact that the Union will no longer do this, I still intend to offer any assistance and support I can to students who still wish to attend the event. I feel it's a very justifiable and important cause and I hope this decision will not affect the morale of those who intend on going. I apologise for the delay in this statement coming out and I hope everyone is able to make arrangements in time for the 19th.
If you'd like to comment or question this decision or the processes behind it, feel free to email me on: email@example.com
All the best,