SU Referendum

SU Referendum

News & Events

Referendum on Restructuring Students’ Union Officer Roles

On Thursday 23rd January you will be asked to vote in a referendum on whether or not you support the restructuring of students’ union officer roles.
The wording which will appear on the ballot paper, requiring a Yes / No answer, will be:
Do you agree with referendum motion (Executive Committee Composition) proposed by the SU Council on 25th November 2019?
The proposed amendment to the NUI Galway Students’ Union constitution, if passed, will result in the following:
1. The creation of a part-time Equality Officer position on the Students’ Union Executive Committee
2. The abolition of the following students’ union part-time officer roles

• Mature Students Officer

• SU Council Chairperson

• International Students Officer

• Gender and LGBT+ Rights Officer

• Disability Rights Officer

• Ethnic Minorities Officer

3. The renaming of the Clubs’ Captain position to Clubs Officer

This referendum has been requested by 500 members of the Students’ Union in accordance with the Students’ Union Constitution, Article 16.

FAQs About the Referendum

When will the Referendum take place?

The Referendum will take place on Thursday 23rd January. Polling will be from 10:00am to 5:00pm in Smokey’s Café. You will need to bring your NUIG student ID with you to vote.

Remote Vote will also be available for those that won’t be on campus to vote. Details on how to vote and how to register for Remote Vote will be advertised in advance.

What wording will appear on the ballot paper?

The wording which will appear on the ballot paper, requiring a Yes-Tá / No-Níl answer, will be:

Do you agree with referendum motion (Executive Committee Composition) proposed by the SU Council on 25 November 2019?

An bhfuil tú ag toiliú leis an rún reifrinn (Comhdhéanamh an Choiste Feidhmiúcháin) a mhol Comhairle Chomhaltas na Mac Léinn an 25 Samhain 2019?

What are the main changes if the Referendum is passed?

The proposed amendment to the NUI Galway Students’ Union constitution, if passed, will result in changes to Article 7 of the Students’ Union Constitution which describes the roles of the Student’s Union Executive Committee.

Those changes are:

  1. The creation of a part-time Equality Officer position on the Students’ Union Executive Committee
  2. The abolition of the following students’ union part-time officer roles
    • Mature Students Officer
    • SU Council Chairperson
    • International Students Officer
    • Gender and LGBT+ Rights Officer
    • Disability Rights Officer
    • Ethnic Minorities Officer
  3. The renaming of the Clubs’ Captain position to Clubs Officer

Where did this proposal come from?

The proposal is the product of a review and consultation process which began last semester. The process was discussed at Students’ Union Executive Committee meetings and SU Council meetings and was also widely featured on social media.

The consultation process informed the proposal which was circulated to members of SU Council in November and then formally proposed at an SU Council meeting later that month. SU Council voted in favour of the proposal being put to referendum, which will take place on Thursday 23rd January.

Why reduce the number of part-time officers?

In 2018 a number of new part-time officer roles were created to bring the total number of officers to nineteen. Over the past two years it has become clear that nineteen officers is unsustainable. It has been difficult to recruit candidates for all position and there have been an increased number of by-elections to fill uncontested positions, or vacant positions following resignations.

There are also logistical challenges to arranging Executive Committee meetings at times that suit all nineteen officers, which has led to meetings not taking place, or low attendance. This stunts the work of the Union and it is very unfair to the constituents of a particular role if an officer does not have the opportunity to attend executive committee meetings. It can be dysfunctional and unproductive and can lead to communication challenges when all officers don’t get to contribute to decisions.

What will happen to SU Council Chairperson?

The proposal seeks to abolish the SU Council Chairperson as a part-time officer, but there will still be an appointed SU Council Chairperson. Currently, the main role of the SU Council Chairperson is to chair SU Council meetings in an unbiased manner. The Executive Committee reports to SU Council, so there is potential for the independence of SU Council to be compromised.

This change will strengthen the voice of SU Council.

SU Council has the authority to create the role of an independent SU Council Chairperson, and appoint somebody to that role.

It is envisaged that the person appointed to that role will not be a member of the Executive Committee, or SU Council, but will have sufficient experience and knowledge of the Students’ Union. They could be a former Class Rep or former SU Council Chairperson. SU Council will be responsible for the appointment and it can create the role in a schedule of the constitution.

Will the Students’ Union still campaign on equality issues?

Yes! The student movement has a long and proud tradition in tackling equality issues and that will not change. The Union’s mission statement, “to promote, defend and vindicate the rights of the members at all levels of society” is based on the principle of equality and everything we do seeks to uphold mission.

If the referendum is passed, the part-time position of Equality Officer will be reinstated. The full-time Vice President Welfare and Equality Officer will continue to have equality as part of their brief to complement the work of the Equality Officer.

The combination of a full-time Vice President Welfare and Equality Officer and a part-time Equality Officer will ensure that all students are equally represented under the nine grounds of equality, not just some.

In addition, this referendum will have absolutely no effect on the excellent work being undertaken by societies like Impacte Soc and GigSoc who have been the most significant contributors to equality policy formation and equality campaigns in NUI Galway.

The abolition of some part-time officers is not trying to reduce the importance of some issues. The overall reduction in officer numbers will streamline the work of the Union and allow more issues to be discussed and addressed.

What’s happening to the Clubs Captain?

There is no change to the role of Clubs Captain. The proposal is to change the name to Clubs Officer to give the role full officer status and to convey the importance of the role. It is sometimes seen that the role of Clubs Captain is to report to the Executive Committee as a club captain, but the role is about representing clubs’ interests. The title change seeks to promote the gravity of the role.

Will this decision be final?

No. The beauty of the Students’ Union is that it is reactive and adaptive to its members needs. If a particular element is not efficiently delivering for the Union’s members, it can be changed by the members.

 If you have any further questions about the referendum please contact studentsunion@nuigalway.ie 

Interested in getting more involved?

Nominations to run for SU Elections for 2020/20 open on Wednesday 19th February (Full Time Officer Positions) and Wednesday 26th February (Part Time Officer Positions)

Artice by
Joanna Brophy