Three out of three motions passed in the first Stirling Student Union general meeting of the 2023/24 academic year.
100 per cent of voters supported Commitment to Fighting the Housing Crisis, proposed by Eliot Wooding-Sherwin.
The number of students at Stirling has increased from 14,000 in 2019 to 18,000 this year. The university has not since provided any additional accommodation.
“Many students face a struggle to get accommodation locally,” said Eliot during the meeting.
“I couldn’t find anywhere to stay in Stirling this year. Whenever we view a flat, there are 50 other students also looking at the same place.”
Zoë Crosher, Vice President Communities, spoke in favour of the motion: “I deal with the housing and see the state the university accommodation is in, and it’s dire. More needs to be done.”
Justine Pedussel, volunteer housing officer, also spoke in favour, writing on Microsoft Teams: “The housing crisis is a huge issue which has left a number of students homeless, and it needs to be treated as priority.
“This motion will give a good structure on how the student union can do that. That’s why I support this motion.”
There was no speech against the proposal.
Zoë proposed the Mandatory First Responder Training for All Committees motion, which will ensure that every committee has a member trained in how to respond to disclosures of sexual assault.
In response to a question, Zoë noted that while the training would be aimed mainly at sports and society committee members, she would try and open it up to the rest of the student body and that anyone interested in the news should follow her social media.
Zoë also said that she understands this to be a sensitive topic and that she encourages people with any concerns to reach out to her privately.
The Mandatory First Responder Training for All Committees motion passed with 91.5 per cent of voters in favour.
The third motion was Representation and Transparency (Sabbatical Officer Meetings) proposed by Dan McPadden. Dan noted that there is an ongoing lack of engagement in student union affairs.
The Representation and Transparency (Sabbatical Officer Meetings) motion also passed with 96.6 per cent of the vote in favour.
Sabbatical officer reports
The Sabbatical Officers presented their reports during the meeting.
Leen Ali, Union President, reported that she has been focusing on equality, diversity, and inclusion.
She has also hosted the first of multiple planned sessions on campus where she talks to students.
Multiple students have raised concerns about parking with Leen, as well as the strikes.
Parking was also raised during the meeting, with the student being told to email the student union about parking issues.
Aaron Caulfield, one of the proposers of the Plant Based Union motion passed last academic year, asked Leen if any consideration had been given to the fact that the general meeting had been scheduled on the same day as a by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West.
Vice President Education, Katie Gethings, responded: “The union dates are set administratively not politically. And to get them in at a suitable time for all students and after rep training, this is the earliest opportunity.
“We offer the option to join online as an accessible option for students who cannot make the in-person meeting.”
Aaron pressed the importance of his concern, noting that the by-election is one of the largest in Scotland’s recent history. Leen requested that he email the union and said that his concern had been noted.
Murray Bushell, Sports Union President, said that the university now has 54 sports clubs, with membership sitting at around 1,850. He aims to increase this to 2,000 by the end of the semester.
Murray stated that one of his primary concerns this year is to ensure sports continue to be accessible to everyone during the current cost of living crisis.
A question was raised about action taken to increase the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in sports at Stirling. Murray noted that he had campaigned heavily on this in previous years but it was not central to his manifesto this year.
He said that the Sports for All week would continue to be held this year.
Katie Gethings reported that academic representative training has been expanded to include an in-person element this year. This was held yesterday and over 100 student representatives attended.
Katie has also been working on introducing life skills workshops including cooking and personal finance. A student enquired whether there was any scope for clubs and societies to get involved with providing these workshops.
Katie said that the scheme is in its infancy, and she would be keen to receive emails from societies wanting to get involved or anyone else with ideas or thoughts.
Zoë Crosher, Vice President Communities, reported on her successful campaign for funding for multiple projects: to provide mental health first aid training to committee members; to provide a student parent study room; and stocking the community pantry for the whole year.
The next meeting will be held at 5pm on November 30. The deadline to submit a motion is 10am, November 23.
Featured Image Credit: University of Stirling