Societies Committee and Sports Committee are petitioning for a referendum to create two new positions on SU Council after an initial proposal last Thursday was rejected, they feel, ‘without due consideration’.
At a Council Meeting on Thursday 15 October, Societies Committee brought forward a proposal to review the representation of societies on Council, with the creation of a ‘Societies Councillor’.
The proposal fell after Councillors expressed concern around who would be the electorate for this position, and how many more positions may be created on Council as a result. It was considered for 10 minutes.
Societies Committee have since teamed up with Sports Committee to put forward a petition for a referendum in which students will be able to vote for or against the roles of ‘Societies Councillor’ & ‘Sports Councillor’ being created.
In accordance with the SU Constitution, 1,000 full members must sign the petition in order for a referendum to be organised. This has never before been achieved in the history of Sheffield SU.
‘Not adequately represented’
SU Council is currently made up of 46 Departmental Councillors and nine Representative Councillors. It includes no direct student representative for societies or sports clubs. Instead, the SU’s Activities and Sports Officers are expected to represent them.
Societies Committee argue that the importance of societies to students’ lives means there should be a dedicated representative for them on the SU’s highest decision making body, and that a Societies Councillor would “provide an engaged, independent representative to hold both the Activities Officer and Societies Committee to account.”
A statement from Societies Committee read: “The voices of societies, committees and sports clubs are not adequately represented within the current SU Council membership.
“Last Thursday, Societies’ Committee brought forward a proposal to review the representation of societies within the Council membership. Societies’ Committee proposed the creation of a ‘Societies Councillor’ that would represent more than 350 societies, 3000 committee members and 10,000+ society members on Council.
“In addition, we were extremely keen on exploring the possibilities of creating more councillors that could represent vital student groups, such as a councillor representing Sports Clubs. However, this was rejected by SU Council, we feel, without due consideration.”
Campaign to launch new SU Councillors
The core responsibilities of the proposed Societies Councillor and Sports Councillor would be to represent the interests of student societies or sports clubs at Council, and they would not have specific duties on their own committees other than this.
They would act as a direct link between the two bodies, engaging with relevant issues and raising them to council where appropriate. The Societies Councillor would also work to represent the issues relevant to the nine Working Committees at the SU.
A Sports Committee statement read: “Sports Committee works extremely hard to influence change within the sporting community by holding campaigns such as This Girl Can, Disability in Sport Week and LGBT+ ‘Play with “Pride’, to encourage inclusivity and participation in sport. As a committee, we can only do so much, and this is why we believe there is need for a sports representative at the highest student decision making table.
“On Thursday night the opportunity was missed to support the interests of societies and in turn open doors for further representation of other Working Committees. It is for this reason that Sports Committee have decided to work with Societies’ Committee in order to fight for better representation of Sports and Societies on SU Council.
“Sports Committee encourages you to express your opinion to your relevant councillor and to upvote our proposal to petition for a referendum to give greater representation to sports and societies on SU Council.”
The petition and full proposal can be found here.