SRC round up: study space, postgraduate college, art exhibition funding, private halls and constitutional amendments

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The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) met on 19 November to discuss resolutions regarding the operations of the societies committee, study space, the development of a taught postgraduate college, an art exhibition for the Coalition for a Conflict Free St Andrews, private halls of residence, and amendments to the postgraduate and debating societies.

The amendment regarding the operations of the societies committee (SOCS) was carried over from a previous joint meeting. There was a debate about whether SOCS should be constitutionally required to re-affiliate any societies that met all of the obligations SOCS had asked them to meet throughout the year. Some members feared that this would eliminate any personal discretion of the committee as to whether a society should be re-affiliated; others worried that it would be unfair for the committee to have the ability to deny without grounds for an application to re-affiliate. Both the SRC and the SSC have to pass any changes made to official SOCS duties, and the SSC had already settled this matter by deciding that SOCS should have to re-issue an affiliation agreement to any pre-existing society that had met all of the previous years’ societal obligations. The SRC therefore passed the motion.

A motion was brought to lobby the University for increased study space. The University’s student body has increased in size since many of the study areas were built. The lack of correlation in number of study spaces and number of students has led to overcrowding, particularly in the library, which was built in the 1960s and 70s when the student population was only 3,000. Today’s student population is more than twice that with 7,000 students now attending the University and so the library has experienced an increase in traffic. Despite the partial redevelopment of the library a few years ago, study space continues to be a problem. The motion was amended to state that further expansion of the student body was only opposed by the Students’ Association if the University did not act to expand study spaces, and then passed.

The SRC also considered a motion from postgraduate president Scott Schorr, which stated that the Students’ Association would oppose the creation of a taught postgraduate college. Mr Schorr said that the postgraduate community is already divided between taught and postgraduates and this move would only further separate the groups. After debate and an amendment stating that the Students’ Association would have to seek consultation and the opinion of the postgraduate community, the amendment was passed.

A motion to fund an art exhibition for the Coalition for a Conflict Free St Andrews did not pass. Callum Bryce, the SRC member for external campaigns, brought it forward in the hope that the SRC could give £225 to the event from the SRC discretionary fund. Mr Bryce is also the advocacy coordinator for the Coalition. (The Coalition for a Conflict Free St Andrews is not its own society but an umbrella term for the joint venture of 15 societies, including Oxfam, the St Andrews Anti-Genocide Coalition, Unicef, Greenpeace and the Feminist Society.) It was decided that as there is a mechanism in place to fund society events-  fundraising and applications through the SSC – this motion would be denied.

Support for private halls of residence was also considered. Since a planning application at the old Memorial Hospital has been passed and another at East Sands has been submitted to Fife Council, the Students’ Association decided to state its position on supporting private halls of residence. Ruth Cunningham, the SRC member for private accommodation, brought the motion. It was amended to state that any private hall would require a wardennial style team before the Association could give its support, but did not state that every private hall with a wardennial team would automatically have Students’ Association support. The motion then passed.

Finally, some constitutional amendments were discussed. A motion was brought forward to remove the film production subcommittee, Rè Pictures, from the Students’ Association laws. The film production team did not fall under the structure of typical Students’ Association subcommittees, and was thus removed from the Association as a subcommittee.

The Postgraduate Society wished to adopt a new constitution with the intention of clarifying their role. The constitution was amended to make clear the role of the Postgraduate Society and its president in student representation, and then passed.

Finally, the Union Debating Society (UDS) brought a brief motion to propose a change regarding when they must have their Annual General Meeting. According to the UDS’ existing constitution, the AGM must be four weeks after the annual Students’ Association elections. This would not be possible in 2014 given the timing of the Easter break, and thus, the UDS requested that the wording be changed. The motion passed.

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