Hundreds of students gathered at the Annual General Meeting last week which proved to be more lively than previous years with a mixture of light-hearted banter, contentious debate and comedy moments.
Chaired by Sarah Smith, the AGM, which is infamous for its tedious length and mundane subject matter, finished in record time of 90 minutes and made slick transitions from speeches to power point to video.
President, Marcus Coates-Walker, said: “Obviously there are elements you have to get through for legal reasons, but the stuff we had on the agenda was interesting and the audience was engaged so it worked.”
There was a roar of disappointment as students were informed that the register would be taken at the end of the meeting putting them under pressure to maintain quoracy, which was never under question with an attendance of 620.
The President structured the meeting around Cardiff Student Union’s direction, outlined as “Aspiring to have a positive impact on all students lives and help them to enjoy their time at Cardiff.”
In an allusion to Cardiff Student Elections, Welfare and Communications officer, Chris Davies, reminded students to “Get involved, lead your union and love Cardiff” before the meeting moved on to the motions.
Academic and University Affairs officer, Sam Reid, proposed the student charter, which has been made compulsory by Higher Education and Funding Council for Wales to clearly lay out the mutual roles and responsibilities of the university, student unions and their students.
Sam Reid said: “The Student Charter is a useful resource for students inasmuch as it clarifies what they should expect from their experience at Cardiff.”
The motion was swiftly passed moving the meeting onto the more contentious introduction of Student Trustees for the Student’s Union.
At present the Board of Trustees is made up of Elected Officers and external professionals who are responsible for legal compliance, financial accountability and the strategic direction of the organisation.
Proposed by the President, the motion will see current students added to the Board to increase Student Union transparency and improve student representation.
Questions were raised about the capability of full-time students to take on these roles and the controversial proposal to appoint student trustees rather than elect them.
The President said: “We are taking legal advice and we would give the trustees training. They would be obligated to attend a monthly meeting and keep on top of student issues – if they don’t have time they will not apply for it.
“Electing student trustees is possible but this is the way the charity commission have said we should do it following best practice. The Student Council will decide to make sure the right people go on to become trustees.”
The motion was passed with a clear majority and looks set to come into force in the next academic year.
The final proposal was of changes to the structure and roles of Elected Officers which would refine their job descriptions and, in some cases, drastically alter their positions.
Key changes include a change in title for the Health Care Integration Officer to Heath Park Campus Officer to better represent the role, the AU President to represent IMG sports, and the creation of a new role under Union Development and Internal Affairs Officer.
The new position will take on the roles of the Finance and Commercial Officer and be responsible for the development of the Union in line with the new strategic plan.
Students passed the motion with a clear majority and the proceedings turned towards the long-awaited plans for the end of year event, revealed by Finance and Commercial Officer, Nick Matthews.
The President said: “Full marks to Nick for dealing with such a difficult issue. Things could have been covered up but he gave students all the information they needed.”
AGM history was made when a student stood up and asked the Chair to be his date to the end of year event.
Sarah Smith blushed when George Davis made the romantic gesture but she shot him down in flames saying that she already had a date.
Despite the controversial issues and broken hearts that are associated with such meetings, Sam Reid said: “This year’s AGM was engaging and allowed students to have in depth debates on issues they care about.”