The first Union General Meeting of 2019 got off to a rocky start as leaflets were distributed amongst those in attendance decrying the increase in rents at University of Stirling accommodation. The leaflets were distributed by an independent group of five students.
The meeting was leafleted due to the opening speaker being Mr Liam Spillane, executive director of commercial services for the University. Mr Spillane is responsible for the strategic direction and operation of the University’s Accommodation and Commercial Services Directorate. This includes all student accommodation, retail and catering outlets, and Stirling Court Hotel.
The leaflets showed the percentage of rent increases across fourteen accommodations and said that the cheapest accommodation price had increased by £24 per week since 2009 from £60 per week to £84. The information on the leaflets had been based on data released by the University after a freedom of information request.
After his presentation Mr Spillane was questioned by several members of the student body in attendance who raised questions about the transparency of the accommodations services and how more expensive accommodations seemed to take precedence over the cheaper alternatives. Mr Spillane said he was “Acutely aware of the need to make this University as accessible as possible no matter your background.”
However he also admitted of accommodation services that it is not “transparent or visible at the moment”.
Jamie Grant, Vice President of Communities for the Student Union has said that the union is currently in rent negotiations.
Seperate from the General Meeting, a University spokesperson said, “As part of our normal process of consultation, we are currently having constructive discussions with the Students’ Union regarding rent prices. Any proposals from the Rent Review Group, which comprises representatives from across the University and Students’ Union, will take into account inflationary increases in running costs and further investment in our residences.”
Later in the meeting three motions were brought up. The first on student officers roles and remits, involving combining and changing the names of some union officer positions in order to give the roles a clearer focus and help with recruitment for those positions.
The second motion was to give clubs and societies focused on equality diversity and inclusion such as LGBT the option to waive their annual membership fee through an option in the society starter pack.
The third motion raised was to enhance the already strong relationship between the University of Stirling, Students Union and Forth Valley College through Forth Valley students and memberships to Stirling clubs and societies.
All three motions were passed.