Union political neutrality motion dramatically stalled

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Credit: Annabelle Cooper

A dramatic General Meeting (GM) intervention saw a motion restricting Students’ Union officers’ ability to campaign on political matters being postponed.

In an unusual move, an agenda change prompted by former Union President Dave Keenan allowed his amendment to be presented before the motion itself.

Following this, a procedural motion to postpone the neutrality motion to the next GM was called and overwhelmingly backed by students.

About 100 attendees watched as Keenan, a key influence on the motion itself, called on students to back his move to recognise what he saw as the Union’s “moral responsibility” to campaign on political issues.

Significantly, his amendments asked for the GM to recognise that, “by their nature … student unions are political organisations and, as such, take political stances, both within the university and in the wider community.”

Keenan told the floor: “This motion is seriously dangerous to student unions, what they stand for, what their values are, and it also has quite a lot of holes in it as well.”

Making his case for the amendment, he said: “It is absolutely vital that you vote for our amendments so that we can actually maintain our values, in order to equip our representatives to represent all of us, to fight for our rights and fight for the rights of others.”

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McLuckie makes his case. Credit: Annabelle Cooper.

In response, Stuart McLuckie expressed dismay at the amendment being prioritised ahead of the motion he proposed, saying it amounted to a repeat of last year, when the previous incarnation of the neutrality motion was gutted through an amendment.

He said: “If people vote against my motion then I’ll never propose it again, but if I feel there’s not a fair debate on the specific points of our original motion, I feel we can’t have this go ahead.

“So, what I would like to propose is that we actually talk about and debate the motion first, before we discuss amendments.”

To large applause, he concluded: “I’m all happy for a vote on the amendments to take place, but what I’m really asking you to do is to allow us to express ourselves first.”

McLuckie then successfully moved for his motion to be postponed to the next GM, saying he did not want students to be forced to “either trust us as far as what our motion is, or to trust Dave”.

The motion would restrict the Union’s ability to endorse particular groups and ‘stances’ to those meeting ‘direct student interests’, justifying them in line with existing Union policies, like those on equal opportunities and safe space.

Meanwhile, students voted overwhelmingly to create an INTO University of Stirling Officer position on the executive council, although another motion to create a separate INTO Student Officer fell when nobody stepped forward to propose it.

Students also elected three students to the elections committee.

The GM was the first to be recorded on the university’s Listen Again service; Brig understands it will be made available on the Union’s website.

Another GM is expected later this semester.

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