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www.london-student.net ·1stMarch 2010

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ConfidenceinLSESUfloundersafter claimsofunconstitutionalaction

Constitutional body removed by UGMamidst calls for re-run of controversial referendum

By HILARY AKED• Editor

The body responsible for upholding the LSE Student’sUnion constitution wereno-confidencedonFebruary 18th, minutes after voting that the decision to uphold the result of the recent refer- endum-which sawa controversial ar- ticle on general meetings and online votingpassby three votes -wasnotun- constitutional.

In an attempt to save the rest of the

committee from the emergency motion of no-confidence put to theUnionGen- eral Meeting (UGM), Michael Lok, Chair of the Constitution and Steering (C&S) committee, resigned, rejecting ac- cusations of bias andmismanagement. But the vote of no confidence passed

by a largemargin. One member of C&S, Franck Ma-

gennis, spoke in favour of the motion, saying thathaving sat onthe committee, he felt theywere “notupholdingdemoc- racy” but “subverting it”. In a meeting before the UGM, C&S

concluded by a majority of 4 to 2 votes that LSE’s recent referendumhad been conducted in accordance with the con- stitution. However, several members voiced

concerns over the legitimacy of the deci- sion to use a simplemajority rather than a supermajority (a quota of two thirds) for the referendum; a choice made by Lok after a meeting with only 2 other members of C&S. Though thismeeting was technically quorate, othermembers voiced concerns that they had not been consulted prior to the decision or in- formed after it. Contention centres particularly

around Article 3 of the referendum, which introduces online voting formo- tions put to the UGM. There were 475 votes for, compared to 472 against, with 18 abstentions. All othermotionswhich passed gained a two thirdsmajority. Constitutional changes put to the

UGMmust be passed by two thirds, but the constitution does not specify proce- dure for referenda. Some students ques- tion the constitutionality of the C&S Chair’s decision to use a simplemajority systemrather thana supermajority.They interpret “the spirit of the constitution”

The C&S committee also voted by 3

votes to 2 not to bypass a requirement in theCode of Practice -whichwould have allowedamotionchallenging the consti- tutionality of the referendum results to beheardat theUGM–because ithadnot been available online for 24 hours.

Various groups opposing three arti-

cles – on external trustees, the media group and the UGM– had campaigned against these under the slogan ‘VoteNo on 2, 4, 9’. Returning Officer Shanti Keleman informed both for and against campaigns of a change innumbering the

stopped fromcampaigning for an hour. Sabbatical officerGeorgeWetz,Treas-

urer, said: “The mistake came from the no campaignbecause all their campaign- ing centred round numbers not ideas.” He continued: “Our job as elected of-

ficers is to respect the decision of the Constitution and Steering committee - we have to respect that decision consti- tutionally. It would be undermining the constitution to overrule people who made the decision.” General Secretary Aled Fisher said:

“I’m not saying the decision is right or wrong. The key thing is what’s happen- ing now. The ‘No’ campaign haven’t come forward with any actual evidence that’s constructive. The irony for me is all of thesepeople areusing onlinemeth- ods [to oppose the referendum results] and they’re proving the reason that we initiated online voting which is to har- ness the debate and getmore people in- volved.Whatwould be a very bad idea is to re-run thewhole thing.” He also accused opposition cam-

paigners ofbeing “very intimidating and aggressive”, saying: “Members of C&S have been coming tome almost in tears because of people putting pressure on them.” However, opposition campaigners

Students at the LSE UGMvoting in favour of amotion of no-confidence in the C&S Committee

Speaking at the UGM, Maggenis

as implying that changes to the constitu- tionshouldalwaysneeda supermajority. But sabbatical officers, who spent

months conducting consultation exer- cises before the referendum, say that all the legal advice they have received sup- ports upholding the declared result. However, a re-run of the referendum

could still happen if a two thirdsmajor- ityUGMvotes for it.

complained of the “blatant unconstitu- tionality of the referendumprocess” and condemned C&S for postponing the hearing of themotion. Those campaigning against this arti-

cle also complainedthat thenightbefore the referendum there was a last-minute change in the numbering of the propos- als.

Photo: HILARY AKED

day before voting began, which both sides approved. ‘No’ campaigners then told support-

ers to ‘VoteNo on 3, 4, 9’ - but the origi- nal numbering was restored the next morningwhen voting begun. The ReturningOfficer admitted this

may have been a disadvantage to the op- position campaign and those campaign- ing in favour of the proposals were

levelledcounter-accusations against sab- batical officers, saying they had been pressuring C&S into upholding as con- stitutional the Chair’s decision to use simple-majority. On the motion of no-confidence,

Fisher said: “It happens virtually every year because it requires no notice at a UGM...these people who’ve worked ex- tremely hard have been booted out which I don’t like; it achieves nothing and ironically empowers the Returning Officer and Exec.” A new body called the Democratic

Committee, which replaces C&S, comes into force in summer term.

ULU introduces the London LivingWage for its staff

continued fromfront page

able to live with dignity, whilst provid- ing a basic standard of living for them and their families. “Our determination for the LLWto

be introduced prompted us to put the cleaning services out to tender, with the stipulation of Living Wage being an option.”During the transition, current staff will be able to keep their jobs under the Transfer of Undertakings

(Protection of Employment) Regula- tions, and will simply transfer to the new company. Uddin and ULU Vice-President

worked with ULU staff and campaign group London Citizens to achieve the deal. ULU is not yet an officially verified

Living Wage employer however, be- cause other staff such as students work- ing in bars do not get paid the Living Wage. Uddin said that within feasible

financial limits, they had to prioritise the most vulnerable groups, since stu- dents did have better access to loans and grants. However, he added that he hoped

next year’s ULU President could take the project further and look into rolling-out the Living Wage across all employees. Birkbeck College pays the Living

Wage to staff except those working in the bar, which is currently run byULU.

‘The LivingWage is absolutely essential for thosemost

vulnerable in our society to

be able to livewith dignity

-NizamUddin, ULU President Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28
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