Democracy Review motion passed on third attempt

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After two prior attempts, Durham Students’ Union (DSU) has successfully passed its motion to reform Assembly Membership.

On 17th March Jack Ballingham – the DSU Opportunities Officer – presented a motion, similar to the one that was rejected in February; however, the DSU claims to have “worked on student feedback and held consultations to discuss what amendments were needed”.

The reforms included direct election of SU representatives by colleges instead of selection through college room committees, such as JCRs and MCRs. Other changes originally tabled were the addition of student representatives from each of the University’s academic faculties, engagement in each of the student group areas, and the introduction of student leaders from the University Enrichment Department.

Since Assembly rejected the motion in February the Wider Student Experience section has been changed, after Assembly members cited the difficulty of grouping associations and criticised the heavy representation of student groups.

There is now an open list of eight Student Group places, as opposed to representatives from specific Student Group categories, such as Culture and Faith.

Opposition at Assembly on 10th February had taken issue with representation, citing the difficulty of grouping Associations

Ballingham pointed out that issues regarding Common Room representation on Assembly remain unresolved by this motion.

Assembly members raised general concerns that the proposals did not feel like a finished product. It was emphasised that the SU Officers and Assembly members should push to continually review this arrangement; minutes from the meeting described Assembly members feeling that it was the “least bad proposal so far, but far from perfect”.

Speaking to Palatinate, Ballingham said: “As far as the Common Room issue goes, I’ve talked to JCR Presidents and the Chair of Prescomm and we agreed that individual memoranda of understanding between us were the way to resolve the issue and we’d pursue that in the next few months.

“Overall I’m glad the motion passed, it’ll create an improved Assembly starting from the new academic year. Obviously, it’s not the endpoint of making SU democracy better but it’s a big improvement.”

As a result of the vote, the new model of Assembly membership will start in the next academic period.

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