A controversial political neutrality motion stalled in September “will pass” when it is put to students at a new General Meeting (GM) tomorrow, its proponent has told Brig.
The ‘Save Our Student Union’ motion, which would restrict the ability of Stirling Students’ Union and its officers to intervene on political matters not directly relevant to students, was dramatically postponed at the last GM on September 28.
At that meeting, former Union President Dave Keenan objected to the motion, calling it “seriously dangerous to student unions [and] what they stand for”. The motion was postponed after a technicality controversially allowed his amendment to be presented ahead of the motion itself.
Stirling University’s Libertarian Society, which aims to support limited government interference and freedom of expression, officially endorsed that motion this week. Earlier today, the society held a stall to make their case to students.
“We believe that it creates a reasonable compromise between those who would like to see more open debate and critique of policy within our Union and those who would like the Union’s ability to conduct activism and endorse specific policies to remain unhindered,” a society statement said.
Stuart McLuckie, the society’s president, told Brig he believes it will pass.
“I’ve spoken to many students throughout campus who feel that they are not represented by their Union, simply because of its previous endorsements. As far as I’m aware, no other club/society has made an open endorsement, though I’m sure many of their members will turn up and support the motion regardless.”
He continued: “I think that last month was a perfect demonstration of what happens when someone who goes against the received wisdom of a very contentious political topic tries to offer an alternative to the status quo.
“I think people are tired of this kind of petty ideological tussle and want the Union to just get on with its day job of providing good services for its members. So yes, I think it’ll pass.”
Meanwhile, Adam Petrie, who seconds the non-intervention motion, has also proposed a separate motion to amend the Union’s constitution to try and prevent a repeat of what he sees as “an abuse of the democratic proceedings” at September’s GM.
The meeting will also consider a motion to campaign for greater use of Fairtrade, amid concerns for the wellbeing of food farmers.
The GM is at 5pm tomorrow in Cottrell Lecture Theatre B4.
Update: Adam Petrie has told Brig the constitutional amendment he will propose comes after “the shambles that was the previous GM”.
He said: “Dave Keenan’s used a flawed system to sabotage our efforts to push through the SOSU motion.
“Instead of debating the motion on its merits (or lack thereof) he chose to shut down all debate around the subject, much like what happened last year when Georgia [Hall] and I first proposed the motion.
“There are bound to be other loopholes in the system, but hopefully this will at least serve as a symbol that the sort of cowardly subversion that Mr Keenan resorted to will not be stood for.”
Update: Former Union President Dave Keenan has fought back against Adam Petrie’s claims and defended his right to democratic participation.
He said: “To set the record straight, I did not ‘abuse’ the democratic procedures of the Union at the last General Meeting. I exercised my democratic right as an ordinary member to submit amendments to a motion. This is commonplace within democratic organisations.
“Furthermore, in proposing those amendments, I wasn’t shutting down debate. It was the proposer of the motion that voluntarily withdrew the motion.
“I would encourage all members to familiarise themselves with the constitution and the democratic procedures of the Union.
“I have no issues about having a debate on the motion in question. I’m disappointed to be accused of ‘cowardly subversion’ for simply exercising my democratic rights.
“Moreover, I would advise the member that made that comment to refrain from public mudslinging and make their arguments at the General Meeting.
“Part of the problem last year was that too many people were saying their bit on social media, creating a hostile environment for the proposers of the original motion.
“I’m surprised that one of the proposers of the original motion has decided to attack me publicly given that they themselves were subject of unfair criticism for using their democratic right to propose a motion.”