EUSA Democracy Review

As many of you will already know, I bloody love democracy. You may not also know though that I also bloody love writing terms of reference for committee structures…

Anyway, in the last year we have test-run a new set of democratic structures and we have spent the last couple of months reviewing them. Lots of things worked very well but some things still need some work. I have finished the first draft of the review findings. Below is a short report explaining the key findings and an overview of the proposed changes. I have also attached the full set of draft proposed regulations, these are much longer but if anyone is interested in reading them that would be great. In addition, I have linked to the current Student Democracy Regulations and Online Referendum Regulations, which the draft proposal, if accepted, would replace.

These proposals are my work based on wide consultation and input. They are only draft proposals – I want to hear your views too! I will compile feedback and pass it onto next year’s sabbs, who have also contributed a lot already too.

Democracy Review Report

Draft Proposal for Democracy Regulations

Current Student Democracy Regulations

Current Online Referendum Regulations

If you have any comments please leave them here on this post or email me at president@eusa.ed.ac.uk. Deadline for comments is May 31st.

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One thought on “EUSA Democracy Review

  1. Hey, I think we need to seriously rethink the way referenda work and what they’re appropriate for. We need to get away from the idea that democracy starts and stops at voting.

    Referenda as they currently are not very useful for anything more than a poll on whether students prefer cheese&onion or tuna mayo sandwiches: and they don’t allow students to say ‘no, I’d rather have peanut butter.’

    As such, I don’t think we should have the idea that referenda are the right place for dealing with big issues – which require a forum where students can challenge each others views, have their own opinions challenged, and deliberate over the best way forwards. General meetings offer potential for this, and with the capacity for amending motions and a clear mechanism for proxy voting (for anyone unable to attend) should be used more.

    I have particular issues with both the current way referenda have been held, and some of the suggested changes. Firstly, EUSA’s online referenda have been held in a way so that many students will not even see the statements of the yes and no campaigns on motions. It should be written into the democracy regulations that these statements should be visible on the same page as the voting for each referendum question, and that there should also be a link from here to an online forum for discussion of the question (which should also be available and publicised to students during the campaigning period).

    As for the changes, I’m not really sure that we should be discouraging and limiting the amount of questions that go to referenda, but I don’t think that increasing the threshold of signatures needed and switching to an online signature mechanism that relies on questions being shared through social media will improve matters.

    Social networks allows things to be shared with friends and contacts – and this is fine for somethings, but I don’t think it is ok for democratic matters affecting all students – where the ability not just to make proposals but to express your opinion on them should be open to all students. Relying on social networks for sharing these will work well for those who are already well connected and have many (politically-interested) contacts on facebook and twitter, but it will penalise those who don’t in getting involved in decision making.

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