Union General Meeting Guide

Introduction

Union General Meetings – or UGMs - are a vital part of LSESU’s democratic process. They are a forum for you to hold your representatives to account, to set the direction of the Union through debate and to guarantee that the Union remains membership-led.

At UGMs you can also hear from some fantastic guest speakers. In the past, we've invited LSE’s Director, NUS Officers, MPs and other decision-makers to speak and to take your questions.

UGM Motions: The Basics

What is a UGM Motion?

A UGM motion is a document proposing a change to the Union's policy. Motions can be submitted on anything ranging from decisions taken by LSE or LSESU, to wider national or even international concerns.

How do I write and submit a motion?

Any member of the Students' Union can submit a motion so why not go for it?

Every motion needs three things:

  1. A title Make it short, easy to understand and a question. For example: Should LSESU make elections paperless?
  2. A clear issue explain the issue in simple terms, and include references for any facts or stats. For example: LSESU provides free printing for election candidates in Michaelmas and Lent term elections (LSESU Election Rules Document 2018) which means a huge amount of paper used twice a year.
  3. A solution Again it's important to keep it simple and realistic! For example: LSESU should work to phase out unnecessary paper usage with the aim to go paperless by 2020.

Every motion has to be proposed and seconded - that means, one person puts a motion forward, and another person ‘seconds’ it, or backs them up. This is to make sure that there's already some support for the motion to be debated.

How do I get a motion passed?

You must submit your motion to the Democracy Committee before 5pm on Friday, so that it can be discussed by the Committee the following week. If the Democracy Committee allows your motion onto the order paper, they will contact you directly to let you know the date that it’ll be debated.

Motions must sit on the order paper (the agenda for the meeting) for at least one week before its debated.

At the UGM you’ll need to propose your motion, and it also needs to be seconded by someone else. You should be ready to take questions from students and discuss any suggested changes to the motion offered by other students.

Your motion will then go to a vote online. Once quorum is reached – the minimum number of people who need to vote on an issue, in this case 250 – a simple majority is required for the motion to be passed into policy. This means that when 250 people vote, you need 126 people to vote for the motion.

What should I do before writing a motion?

Top Tips

  • Check the motion you want to propose isn’t Union policy already. All LSESU policy is available online here: https://www.lsesu.com/democracy/resources/
  • Make it relevant to students. People will vote for something that will positively benefit them, so show how your motion directly affects students. If your motion is about a national or international issue, try and relate it to LSE life.
  • Be realistic. Your proposal should be practical, realistic and achievable.  Proposing that the Union should lobby LSE to give every student a laptop, for example, is likely to be a waste of time. If the motion does have a financial impact, consider if it’s viable or if the financial impact could be offset.
  • Gather support before submitting your motion to the UGM. If it’s clear that the motion has widespread support among students, it’s much more likely to succeed.
  • Be prepared to campaign. Putting up posters, writing articles and leafleting are all great campaigning tools. But the most important thing you can do is to talk to students directly and explain why it’s in their interests to support you.
  • Be accurate. Remember to give sources for any quotes, statistics or facts. The Democracy Committee is likely to send your motion back if it believes you’ve provided inaccurate information or information that isn’t properly referenced or backed up.
  • Be aware of restrictions. Although all successful motions become LSESU policy, they can’t contradict LSE’s policy or the law. A motion couldn’t extend LSE’s holidays, for example, but it could mandate the union to lobby for this change.

How do I build a campaign?

Campaigning is the best way to ensure your motion receives the support required to become policy. You’ll build a consensus surrounding your issue and give your motion greater weight and importance.

Here are some ways you might want to engage people:

  • Contact The Beaver to secure media coverage of your campaign
  • Organise a photo opportunity with your campaigners
  • Use social media to get your message out
  • Come into the Activities Resource Centre to book a stall on Sheffield Street

LSE has a strong history of campaigning and at LSESU we’ll support you in any way we can, for UGM motions and wider LSESU or national campaigns. Please contact the Engagement Team on su.engagement@lse.ac.uk to find out how we can help.

What happens on the day?

The Chair will call the proposer and seconder and give you each approximately 2 minutes to speak (the exact timing depends on how many motions need to be debated).

Make sure you’re on time, and know what you want to say. It’s a good idea to have some notes written down. LSESU will print the order paper and arrange microphones, so you just need to concentrate on speaking in defence of your motion, as persuasively as you can!

If anyone wants to speak against the motion, they can either notify the Democracy Committee in advance, to ensure that they definitely have an opportunity to speak, or just put their hand up on the day. They will also have about 2 minutes to put forward their opposition.

Following the initial opening statements, there is time for debate and questions and then both the proposition and opposition have a further 2 minutes to sum-up – so make sure you prepare for this too.

Voting then takes place online at www.lsesu.com/ugm-vote.

Useful Terms

  • Democracy Committee Five elected students who are responsible for ensuring that democracy functions properly within LSESU.
  • Motion A suggested policy put forward to the UGM that students debate and then vote on. If the motion passes it becomes official LSESU policy.
  • Opposition The student who disagrees with the motion and argues against it.
  • Order paper The agenda for the UGM, containing the text of motion. This will be made available online before the UGM and in print on the day.
  • Proposer The person who submits the motion. They need to give their name and student ID number.
  • Seconder The person who seconds the motion (in other words, agrees that it should be put forward). They need to give their name and student ID number.
  • Quorum The number of students who must vote on a motion for the result to be binding – at least 250.