Students to vote on new political neutrality motion

4 mins read
Credit: University of Stirling

A new version of a controversial political neutrality motion will be put to students tomorrow at the first Union general meeting of the year.

The motion calls on Stirling Students’ Union to refuse to endorse particular groups and ‘stances’, either within or outwith the Union, unless they meet ‘direct student interests’, defined as “content within the Union’s Constitution, alongside its ‘Core Policy Areas’” — like, for example, the Equal Opportunities Policy, No Platforms Policy, and Environmental and Ethical Policy.

Ideas put forward at meetings would have to have to show this with “clear evidence and explanation”, or they “must not be considered fit for proposal,” the motion reads.

Named ‘Save Our Student Union’, in reference to a campaign against its previous incarnation, the new motion seeks to reduce wording ambiguities.

The move comes almost one year after a turbulent General Meeting in which the neutrality motion was gutted by an amendment seconded by Astrid Smallenbroek, then-Gender Equality Movement President and now Union President.

“The main reason I pushed this issue to the floor again was because I felt that any discussions on the actual issues the motion brought up weren’t being had,” said Stuart McLuckie, proposing the motion.

“Now that I’ve proverbially ironed out the creases, I hope that we can now discuss the merits of having a Union which does not endorse specific political opinions or organisations that are not even remotely related to student life.”

The previous motion — prompted by then-Union President Dave Keenan endorsing a CND activist blockade of a nuclear convoy on behalf of the Union — courted controversy for suggesting that the Union and its officials should “maintain a neutral stance upon all political issues”.

The CND society — which has not been active this semester — was among those who fought against the motion at the time, fearing it would “destroy the Student Union” by hampering its ability to campaign on issues like the environment and women’s rights.

“We have taken on board the criticisms of the previous motion — most notably its ambiguous wording — and amended accordingly,” said Adam Petrie, seconding the new motion.

“All we want, and all we have ever wanted, is for every society to be treated equally and to be just as valued as one another as places where students can feel safe and that their opinions matter.”

McLuckie believes the new motion will pass, and that “many Union officers feel the same way as I do and endorse the sentiments of my motion entirely”.

Asked for comment, Smallenbroek would not be drawn on the strength of the new motion on its own merits, but welcomed its increased clarity.

Each motion is considered on its own merits. Therefore, last year’s motion is completely separate to the motion going forward at the coming General Meeting,” she said.

It’s good to see that this motion is a lot clearer which seemed to be one of the issues with the motion last year.

We look forward to hearing students’ opinions on the motion on Thursday.”

The General Meeting is at 5pm tomorrow, in Cottrell Lecture Theatre B4.


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