Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Kent Union result

Whilst I'm posting, I've just noticed I never mentioned the result of the referendum at the University of Kent. (On trustee boards for students' unions) The referendum took place which is a change from my days there - I seem to remember Alix Wolverson constantly announcing (or failing to announce) that a referendum petitioned for had been cancelled for one reason or another - and the results were:

"Should Kent Union increase the number of Trustees from 5 to 9, including two elected student members and two appointed lay members?".

Votes for Yes: 250

Votes for No: 95

Spoilt Ballot Papers: 1

(Source: Kent Union: Referendum Result)
Without knowing how strong the campaigns were it's hard to tell if this turnout is good or bad compared to other elections, although I can remember some absolutely pathetic turnouts (just 38 students in one of them - albeit with only four hours of polling and virtually no publicity or campaigning).

One point to note is that the two current student members will be directly elected - I have heard of some elsewhere in the country advocating that it would be wrong to do so and that instead a selection process should be used "because elections may get it wrong". (Bizarrely they are often elected Union officers speaking against the exact same process that put them in their current posts.) I'd be interested to know how they could justify such a course given the 1994 Education Act's requirement for major office bearers to be elected by all student ballot, rather than selected by some "jobs for the boys" process.


cim said...

Does any legislation or case law define what the 94 Act means by 'major officers'? It's generally accepted that a sabbatical officer is major, but it's clearly possible for non-sabbs to be major (some smaller SUs such as college JCRs don't have any sabbs). On the other hand, if all trustees are major officers then the two appointed externals are problematic, as is anywhere with the 'Union Council as trustees' route.
(Of course, since the 94 Act binds the University rather than the Union anyway, it probably doesn't matter)

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

There are some cases that have established Women's sabbs can be elected by only women, ditto similar cases, providing they're not "major office bearers". Otherwise as I understand it, it comes down to reasonableness.

Plus there's the wider principle of the matter, whether or not the law applies here. Other than the ludicrous notion that being elected to a sabbatical post somehow elevates one, nobody has put forward a case as to why directly electing trustees is wrong when the ex officio officer trustees are elected that way.


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