The Student Assembly Meeting was held on Tuesday 22 November 2011 in the NAB. It is the ‘policy making heart of the Student Union’. It enables students to voice their opinions on motions, sabbatical reports and clubs and societies currently running in Goldsmiths. The sabbatical officers present at the meeting were the Welfare and Diversity officer Manoj Kerai, Campaigns officer Samson Osun, and the Student Union President James Haywood. The meeting was regulated by Tom Williams, the assembly chair and Denis Shukur, the Representation and Democracy Manager.
James started the meeting by commending the 200 Goldsmiths students that rallied outside the RHB for the Nov 9th 2011 protest against fees and cuts. The meeting was then sectioned into different topics starting with discussions and announcements. James announced that he had a meeting with senior management at Goldsmiths about the mass walk out in support of the 30th November protest. All lectures and seminars should be rescheduled, but contact your lecturer for precise details. Also the Student Union will be getting a new sabbatical office. They want to name it after someone inspirational or worthy of recognition. E-mail James with name suggestions for this room. Names will be short listed and students can vote on the final name. James also announced an initiative to recruit another academic and welfare advice worker and the entrance of Loring Hall is due to be refurbished.
Samson provided an update about the closure of NatWest bank on campus. He concluded that it was a business decision to close the bank, but no final decision has been made further negotiations are being held on Wednesday 23 November 2011 between Natwest officials and the Student Union representatives Samson and James. For more information check out the save the bank campaign video on Youtube. Samson also mentioned the up and coming Be Productive not Reactive campaign due to launch next month.
Manoj proposed a 24/7 safe sanctuary for students. It will be a space in which students can come any time if they feel threatened. For example on the way home after a night out and there will be a night line service running from 7:30pm to 5am the next day. Manoj also announced that he will be running the night bus every Wednesday rotating shifts with Matt West, the Campaigns Coordination Officer, and there will now be a group of three volunteers on each shift.
All of these proposals were approved by the student union assembly members. The members voted by holding up an orange card, while non members had to make do with the old hand up if for, against or abstention. There were also no queries with the societies and clubs at Goldsmiths except for the ‘Stitch and Bitch’ society. There was a debate about the name of the society. Most assembly members did not agree with the term ‘bitch’ in the title. They argued that it carries sexist connotations for women and further plunges them into the negative stereotype of gossipers. One particularly wounded assembly member argued the name contradicts the anti bullying campaign. However a student familiar with the society pointed out that it is not an exclusive women’s only club it is open to everyone and ‘Stitch and Bitch’ is a nationally recognised term for local knitting groups used since World War II. They are simply carrying on the tradition. Manoj pointed out that the club is run by the previous president of the feminist society. Another student pointed out: ‘it just rhymes’ and one explained that the ‘bitch’ part does not refer to malicious gossip, but chatting it is a social gathering after all. The divided group agreed on one thing that it is unfair to shut down a popular society just because of its disputable name. This issue is postponed to the next student meeting when a representative of ‘Stitch and Bitch’ can attend and clear up any misunderstandings.
The meeting moved on to Motions. A blanket ban to be placed on companies affecting student rights was discussed. The Arcadia group which owns Topshop and Topman have been banned from advertising on Goldsmiths campuses due to their £200 million tax avoidance when students are being affected by cuts. Manoj explained that if any Goldsmiths student wants the Student Union to boycott particular products they have to write a letter to the company responsible for these products and form a campaign against that company to inform Goldsmiths students about their misconduct. All blanketed companies are reviewed on an annual basis as their policies change. Next up for discussion were stalls. The Student Union wants the University to permit students to set up stalls promoting their clubs, societies and even student manifestos promoting their perspective in the main hall whenever they want especially since that privilege has been granted to private companies with no affiliation to the University or even education. Students have been limited to a stall outside the Library with a short time limit.
The meeting ended with the announcement of the next student assembly meeting. It will be held on Tuesday 6 December 2011 in NAB LG202 at 5:30pm. The warden of Goldsmiths will be present at this meeting and among the topics up for discussion: the smoking ban around campus.
The Sabbatical officer’s reports are on the Student Union website.