Union General Meeting: 6th December
Should LSESU have a new approach to a transparent student democracy?
Proposed by: Solomon Schonfield
Seconded by: Uygar Baspehlivan
Describe the Issue:
- According to the latest LSESU election report there has been a 29% reduction in student election turnout since 2015/16.
- One reason for this is that there is currently no clear and consistent way to know that the LSESU is implementing democratically agreed policy.
- Students are also not aware that the Union is acting on their behalf and in their interest.
- If the Union did clearly inform students (see notes for examples) of how their interests are being carried out, in particular around policies that are democratically passed, this would increase the legitimacy of the Union to campaign on behalf of students.
- There are either 12 or 13 active policies at the Students’ Union which have been voted on by students.
- One of these policies is that LSESU must lobby LSE to commit to full divestment from all fossil fuel companies, including the oil and gas industry (Source: https://www.lsesu.com/democracy/resources/)
- No current policy including this one has any mechanism to report that it is being implemented. This does not build faith that policies are being enacted.
- This is not just a problem created by the Union. The University needs to be lobbied by the Union.
- In comparison to other universities, LSESU’s inclusion in mainstream university communications is extremely low. Compare ‘campus life’ pages for Sussex https://www.sussex.ac.uk/study/student-life/campus where it is an integral part of life for students, with the LSE http://www.lse.ac.uk/student-life/Campus-life, where it is not mentioned once.
- Further, LSE communications does not include substantive Union work. An LSEmail specifically entitled ‘Your Voice Matters’ did not mention student representation, and only included mention of an LSESU club night.(Source: http://londonschoolofeconomicscommunications.newsweaver.com/studentnews/6qxxzpkhudc1mou5s6aivl?email=true&a=6&p=3033244&t=1400425) This is especially concerning considering the amount the SU facilitates that significantly contributes to university life and the ‘student voice’.
- The main democracy page on the Union’s website states that UGMs take place on a weekly basis (https://www.lsesu.com/democracy/) while the webpage for UGMs states that they take place monthly (https://www.lsesu.com/democracy/ugm/)
- Election results are currently being reported with a three-year lag, the most recent results are for 15-16 (Source: https://www.lsesu.com/democracy/resources/)
Describe the Solution:
- The Students’ Union should enact a clear and transparent ‘Democracy and Communications’ strategy that is composed of clear reporting, transparent communications and streamlined processes.
- Concrete requirements of the policy should include but not be limited to:
- That implementation of all union policies should be reported on (at least) a quarterly basis.
- That the Union should boost its communications by:
- Ensuring the university includes the SU in relevant online and print channels.
- Use a clearly marked and prominent section of the Beaver Newspaper and SU website to promote Union democracy.
- Create a democracy and communications strategy that will have as a central aim a minimum 5% increase year-on-year in election turnout for the duration of this policy (Note: policy lasts 3 years).
- To publish a report at the conclusion of the policy to report on activities.