During my election, I commented on the fact that many students felt distant from CUSU Council and from CUSU in general. I promised to fix it.
I am pleased to say that on Monday CUSU Council passed changes designed to do just that!
For a Students’ Union to be credibly taken as the collective student voice it requires student engagement with all its structures. So, over the last few months we’ve conducted extensive student consultation and visited other Student Unions to review CUSU’s democratic structures. The proposals passed on Monday are the results of months of work which will have a substantive impact on how CUSU interacts with students. It’s a really exciting opportunity to make sure that CUSU prioritises the issues that you care most about!
There are three big changes that I want to draw your attention to:
1. CUSU Council is going to devolve!
- Our consultations showed that students felt removed from and unrepresented by CUSU Council and wanted to see it talking more about academic and college level issues rather than making grand political stances. However, history has shown that no matter how much we try, these issues don’t get put as motions to Council. The current structure therefore doesn’t provide much opportunity to discuss these key issues and so we’ve decided to devolve!
- CUSU Council has shrunk slightly in size- JCRs and MCRs now have one representative per common room and NUS Delegates are no longer voting members of Council. Having a more streamlined Council means that there is a more equal balance between academic and college representation and that grads get equal representation to undergrads. It also means we have the capacity to create two new forums, College Forum and Academic Forum, designed to directly address the issues that you care most about.
- JCR and MCR Presidents will attend College forum and schools, department and faculty reps will attend Academic Forum where they’ll be able to meet and discuss issues they’re facing with others who are in a similar position. We’ve trialled it this year with PresCon and the feedback we’ve had has been amazing and I’m excited that these structures will now be formalised. Now both college and academic issues will have a specific forum to ensure they are at the top of CUSU’s agenda and that CUSU is supporting common rooms and academic reps to be as effective as they can be.
2. We’ve created a democracy steering group
- To cement the importance of democracy for CUSU in the future we’ve created a group whose primary purpose is to ensure that CUSU remains democratic and accountable to students. They’ll make sure policies passed at Council are followed up by the sabbatical team and ensure students are as engaged as possible in CUSU’s democracy.
3. We’ve created ‘CUSU Campaigns’
- WomCam, CUSU LGBT+ and CUSU’s other campaigns are one of its greatest assets. They focus CUSU’s work, provide representation for marginalised groups, and achieve big changes for students. We are now extending this structure to other issues to allow CUSU to continue making important changes for students on a range of issues. As such Ethical Affairs has become a CUSU campaign and there is scope for more CUSU campaigns to be set up in the future on issues that students care about such as intermission.
These changes will need to be approved by CUSU Council again in 2 weeks time but if all goes well then these changes will be implemented over the next few months! I’ll be making a video in the next few weeks explaining the changes to students and making sure you know exactly what’s going on. This is an incredibly exciting time for CUSU and opportunity for us to make sure that CUSU remains as effective as possible over the years to come.
Thanks to everyone who engaged in the consultation process and who contributed to creating these exciting changes. I’m very excited about the possibilities this will create for future sabbatical teams to keep increasing engagement, to prioritise the issues you care about and most importantly be more effective in campaigning for real change for you! Here’s to a more democratic, accountable and effective CUSU!!