Democracy Review

Queen Mary Students’ Union is a student-led democratic organisation, which serves to enhance the student experience at Queen Mary. All students are members of the Students’ Union (yes, you’re a member too, unless you’ve told us that you don’t want to be a member anymore). We want our members to decide how we run the Students’ Union, so students and elected student leaders are involved in all levels of our decision-making processes. 

When we say that we are democratic, we mean that students set the direction for the organisation. They do this by taking on representative roles as an Executive Officer, Student Council member or Student Trustee, or by taking part in decision-making processes like our annual elections and student meetings. If you want to know more about our governance and decision-making processes, you can find more information on our Governance pages. 

In 2018, the Executive Officer Team started a review of our democratic processes to make sure we are student-led and represent students effectively. The review focused on four themes: 

  • Executive Officer roles – increasing workload for the Executive Officers and changes to the student body made us feel that it was time to review the number of Executive Officers and their responsibilities. 

  • Representation – feedback from students had suggested that the representation model at BL worked well for students, so we wanted to explore how this model could help us develop our representative model for the other faculties (Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) and Science and Engineering (S&E)). 

  • Devolution – many of the decisions made by Student Council are only relevant for parts of the student body (e.g. decisions that only affect S&E students), and we wanted to create a structure that enables student representatives to make decisions about the things that directly impact them.  

  • Accessibility – it’s important for us that students can engage with our democratic processes, so we wanted to make it easier for students to get involved in Student Council and other democratic processes. 

 

What have we done? 

We began the review by gathering feedback from students and alumni. We ran a consultation, open to all Queen Mary students and alumni, asking you to tell us how you want to be involved in decision-making and what you think our democratic structures should look like. In addition to this wider consultation, we also carried out a more in-depth consultation with current members of our Student Council. 

In response to student feedback, we made the following changes: 

  • The number of Executive Officers has increased from 4 to 6. We’ve introduced the new VP Communities, and we have split the VP Education role into the VP for Humanities and Social Sciences and the VP for Science and Engineering. We’ll continue to have the President, the VP Welfare and the VP Barts and the London. 

  • We’ve created 8 new part-time School Rep roles for HSS and 5 new School Rep roles for S&E. 

  • We’ve also made some other changes to the structure of Student Council, such as adding an International Rep, a Welfare Rep, a Postgraduate Taught Rep and a Postgraduate Research Rep for each faculty. 

  • We’ve removed the First Year Reps. 

  • The RAG Officer will no longer be a member of Student Council (but will continue with their other responsibilities). 

  • We’ve increased the number of subcommittees of Student Council. For example, we’ll now have a subcommittee for each faculty. The subcommittees have been given power to make decisions about their area, without having to go through Student Council. 

  • We’ve created a Scrutiny Panel, which will keep the Executive Officers and Student Council members accountable by checking that the Officers are working towards their manifesto pledges and mandates. 

 

What’s next? 
  • We’re continuing to implement the decisions from the review and considering how our new structures will work in practice. For example, we’re getting ready to run the new subcommittees of Student Council, so the elected officers can make decisions and create positive change for the students they represent. 

  • We’re also looking at how we can make Student Council more accessible. One of the initiatives we want to implement is live streaming Student Council, a policy which was passed as a motion at the last meeting of Student Council in 2019/20.

 

How do you get involved? 

If you want to know more about the Democracy Review, your first point of contact is the Representation and Democracy Team. You can get in touch with us by emailing su-representation@qmul.ac.uk.  

The new Executive Officers and Student Council members will start their term in office on 1 August 2020. You can find the officers that represent you on our reps page

 

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