By Beth Williams | News Editor
On November 25th, over 750 Cardiff University students gathered in the Student Union’s Great Hall to participate at the Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The Annual General Meeting is an opportunity for students to propose changes they would like to see within the student union or university. Those present will listen to arguments for and against the measure’s resolves before voting with a show of hands. The event coincided with Speak Week, where students are encouraged to voice their opinion on what they would keep and change about the university.
To begin the annual meeting, SU President Hannah Doe read out the annual report for the 2020/21 academic year. She said: “It is a different annual report compared to previous years as many of our traditional activities weren’t able to run. So instead, we focused on our adaptability throughout the pandemic and how we shifted to support students in a predominantly digital manner”. Doe went on to discuss the SU’s focus on student wellbeing services as well as re-introducing in-person events. The union’s CEO, Daniel Palmer then discussed the financial report. Despite a deficit of £547,022 because of the Covid pandemic, he said that the student’s union was financially stable and had sufficient reserves to secure its future.
Before moving onto the motions, students had the opportunity to address questions to the SU’s board of trustees. Discussion points included the university’s mask policy, expenditure on Welsh language services, overcrowding in the SU’s nightclub and preventing sexual assaults and spiking. To the question of whether spending £45,000 on Amazon vouchers, equating to £5 per person, as voting incentives was a good use of money, Hannah Doe answered: “It may seem like a lot of money but that £5 went into your pocket where in a pandemic, with many people financially struggling, you got to spend money on what you needed”.
The first proposed motion was to appoint a full time Welsh Language officer as part of the SU’s board of Trustees. The motion was proposed by Annell Dyfri, the current Welsh language officer. The role is only voluntary and part-time at the moment. In order to make it financially possible, it was suggested that the role of Heath and post-graduate officers would be combined. In her speech, Annell Dyfri said in Welsh: “The aim is to secure a specific role for the Welsh language. It is an essential role in ensuring that Welsh and non-welsh speaking students are treated equally, something that isn’t happening at the moment”. Despite opposition from the SU’s president herself, the motion was passed by an overwhelming majority.
The second motion was to change the name of the Vice President Welfare and Campaigns Role to the Vice President Welfare. This was proposed by the SU President Hannah Doe. As an amendment, the role of the campaign officer would be given to the SU President or a nominated sabbatical officer by the President. The proposed motion was seconded by the current Vice President Welfare and Campaigns, Charlotte Towlson. The motion was passed.
Next, Nimrod Shefi proposed that the union should adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism in full, as the definition of antisemitism. Taking to the stage, Nimrod Shefi discussed how “it is quite common for Jews in the UK to be exposed to hate crimes regularly”. He discussed his personal experiences of practising terror attack drills in his school due to a constant threat to his faith. As the 3rd most harassed religion, Shefi wanted the measure to lead to the SU’s further protection of students from all form of attacks and for Jewish students to have the right to define their own oppression. Following rounds of debate, the measure was passed.
The fourth submitted motion was for the protection of transgender students. In order to do this, the proposer, Orla Tarn wanted to implement annual training to inform others on trans issues as well as adopting the TransActual definition of Transphobia among other resolutions. Without any oppositional argument, the motion for the protection of Trans youth was passed. Orla Tarn said: “Trans people are tired of awareness campaigns that do little more than share pretty, romanticised graphics on Instagram stories and glorifying individuals for doing the bare minimum” and proactive action needed to be taken. Without any opposing argument, the motion was passed.
A motion proposed by Rachel Beaney wanted to mandate the Sabbatical Officer Team to stand in solidarity with the University and Colleges Union when protesting against industrial action. This would be done by publishing a public statement of support for any 2020/21 industrial action within five days of it being formally announced. Industrial action is taken by the UCU in order to oppose poor working conditions of the university’s staff. Students voted in favour of the motion.
The penultimate motion was concerning hybrid events, seminar, meetings and guest policy. The proposer, Joseph Liu, called for all seminars and meetings to be broadcasted live when possible as well as more availability of high-quality tech equipment for student use. Students present voted for the motion the 5 resolves to be voted on in parts. Part 1, for all lectures, seminars and meetings to be broadcast live when possible, was passed. All other resolutions fell.
The last submitted motion was for “Refugees Welcome -University of Sanctuary Campaign”. The motion called for the university to take proactive steps in removing barriers to higher education for asylum-seekers and refugees through getting involved in the University for Sanctuary Campaign. The proposer, Albert Davies-Smith discussed the under-representation of migrants within higher education. “If asylum seekers apply for university, they are barred from accessing student finance”. The seventh and final motion of the night was passed.
All passed motions will be discussed by the SU’s board of trustees who have the final say over the implementation of any policy. The meeting is available to watch in full on the Student Union’s Facebook page. Next year’s Annual General Meeting is scheduled to take place on the 24th of November, 2022.