Covid-19 Assembly update: moving meetings online

Tuesday 20-10-2020 - 12:17


Assembly, like everything else, will need to run a little differently this year. This information is to help you understand how it will be different, and why, to help you be part of it. Thank you for your patience as we try (and refine) a different format! Our Standing Orders (the regulations that govern how Assembly meetings run), were never intended to govern online Assembly meetings, and in particular online voting, so it’s important we have your support to make sure Assembly can still happen productively and democratically.  

Currently there is no clear provision to hold an Assembly meeting online. Assembly must go ahead, of course, as it plays a crucial part in the way students shape the wider Durham experience and the work that we do. And it will need to be run online – it’s the only legal and safe way to hold Assembly at the moment. Therefore it needs to be run in a way which still protects the rights of members, and attendees, and allows discursive, effective, and fair discussion and voting. This means Assembly will be asked to approve a change to the Standing Orders to explicitly allow it to meet online. Attendees will also be asked for feedback at the end of the meeting on how they found the flow and processes of the meeting. 

How it will work

The first Assembly of this year is taking place, online on Zoom, on Thursday 29 October at 18:00 GMT. This meeting will be open for real time attendance to voting members of Assembly, nominees for roles, students raising motions and similar. 

Why? This is to prioritise ensuring that only properly elected members of Assembly can vote, that they can do so securely, and that they can do so in ‘real time’ without the vote or the count being excessively time consuming (which would then mean less motions can be heard). Secure and fair voting on policy is core to Assembly.

How can non-members get involved and know what’s being talked about?

  • Any student can submit a motion to Assembly. The form and contact details for any questions can be found above.
  • Any student can get involved by submitting a question to an Officer or a question in relation to a motion being discussed. We’ll publish the answers so everyone can see the response, and take part in holding Officers accountable for their representative work. Students can also get involved by speaking to their relevant representative.
  • Each year, students can also run for an Assembly position in order to get more involved. In this first meeting, the Chair will be elected, along with the four open positions. 


Additionally, we will publish:

  • A video recording to be shared with students early the following week
  • Papers and minutes of the meeting 
  • All the questions asked and responses will be published (whether they are asked via the online question form or in the meeting)


The work to make online Assembly meetings as accessible and valuable as possible will be evolving, and we’ll keep you updated. We know we still have more work to do in order to get this right for our students and anticipate learning lots as we continue to hold Assembly online and from the leadership of the new Chair, when they are elected. We are satisfied however, that online Assembly is, and will be, successful in bringing students together from across the whole community to discuss proposals that aim to make Durham a better place for all.

Please note, for the upcoming Assembly on 29 October, motions must be submitted to Governance & Grants committee by 19 October via the online form here. The form for submitting questions will be live until 12 midnight on 27 October here. Items that aren’t motions may be added to the agenda on a shorter timeframe if there isn’t an accompanying paper, so if in doubt, please email



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