Durham SU referendum explained

Tuesday 12-02-2019 - 16:17

Referen-done? Vote 'yes' to: Remove gendered language. Add DUCK Chair to SU Board of Trustees. End referendums for minor amendments.While voting in the Student Officer and Trustee elections, you’ll also be asked to vote in a referendum. It’s one more button to click, but it’s quite an important one…

Every five years at Durham SU we have to review our Articles of Association – they’re essentially our constitution and outline how we should be run. We’ve recently completed the latest review and we're mostly happy with the Articles, but there are a few minor changes we'd like to make.

Every student in Durham is a member of Durham SU, and therefore the referendum asks you, as our members, if you’re happy with these changes.

The text here is what we think our Articles of Association should look like. As a legal document, it is full of formal and technical language that isn’t too easy to understand, so feel free to ask any questions to su.admin@durham.ac.uk. We’ve also put together the following more digestible outline of the changes we would like to make:

Removal of unnecessary gendered language, because ‘his or her’ is an outdated and exclusionary way of referring to people.

The addition of the Chair of DUCK to our Board of Trustees, to help charitable fundraising groups get the support they need to deliver their plans and objectives.

The removal of the need for an automatic referendum in future amendments to the Articles, because we believe asking the opinion of Assembly is a more meaningful and effective way of getting the approval of students. If you vote ‘yes’, next time we review our Articles, student representatives will vote on the changes on your behalf. Though any student is still able to call a referendum if they feel it necessary.

Refinement of categories of membership of the SU.

To divide the Standing Orders into two categories.

Increasing the percentage of students needed in a vote to remove a Trustee.

Placement of the details regarding Assembly into the Standing Orders.

At the end of January, our Chief Executive and a representative from our solicitors presented the referendum to Assembly. If you’re interested in hearing what they said, and the questions students asked them, you can watch the livestream here.

To make the above changes, 5% of Durham students must vote and a two thirds majority must say ‘yes’. If we don’t reach these numbers, we’ll have to do another referendum. You can vote in the referendum alongside the Durham SU Student Officer and Trustee elections: voting is open 17 to 20 February.

Voting is the best way to ensure your views are represented, but casting your vote could mean that little bit extra this year. Simply follow the instructions when you vote in the referendum and you'll be entered into a prize draw to win £150 Amazon voucher (£100 and £50 vouchers for 2nd and 3rd), and a range of meals for two in venues across Durham for the runners up.

Fact check: can students still vote on future changes to the Articles of Association, if these changes pass?

Answer: Yes, if students, Assembly or the Board think it should be put referendum. A referendum on Article changes (and a range of other things) can be triggered by

  • Any student member via a secure petition signed by 5% of the total student membership.
  • A vote by a simple majority of student members Student Members’ Meeting with a quorum of one percent of the total Student Membership entitled to vote;
  • A two-thirds majority of the Assembly;
  • A simple majority of the Board of Trustees;

So yes, the referendum is about nothing more exciting than a legal document, but the changes make sure that at the highest level Durham SU is looking after the interests of students (and you might get a prize out of it!).

If you have any questions, drop an email to su.admin@durham.ac.uk.

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Referendum, referen-done, 2019,

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