The Students’ Conference @ UBU kicked off with a bang on Saturday 29th October with over one hundred students participating throughout the day and many more stopping by to take part in student- and officer-led forums, browse stalls from various UBU and local groups and take advantage of the book sale run in collaboration with Amnesty and Oxfam.
Led by the Students' Union Elected Officer Team, the Conference aimed to reinvigorate student engagement on important issues and help set a campaign-led agenda for the Students' Union. The Conference was the first of its kind: a democratic, discussion and decision-making event set at the beginning of the acadmic year in order to give UBU officers and staff more time to implement and achieve what students say will make Bristol better.
The Students' Conference isn’t revolutionary just for its timing; it is the first stage of an expanded, revitalised Students' Union democratic process. A motion proposed by Union President Gus Baker at the first Student Council of the year will, if approved by the Students' Union Trustee Board, allow all University of Bristol students to vote at Student Council. If approved, this new protocol will make Student Council a more regular and open decision-making body in which any student can participate. The Students' Union will still hold an Annual Members Meeting, formerly known as the Annual General Meeting (AGM), at 2pm on the 9th of February 2012, but the Students' Conference has laid a foundation for shorter, more efficient and effective democratic events that allow students to have their say about the issues that matter most to them.
Following an introduction by the Elected Officer Team, the Conference progressed with individual officer-led forums, which were a tremendous success. Students engaged with their officers and with each other on a range of issues including “How to Burst the Student Economic Bubble” led by VP Community Max Wakefield and the key issues relating to the UBU building refurbishment led by VP Activities Chris Ruff. Invaluable contributions were made in all discussions and copious notes were taken by students and UBU staff so that the ideas and issues raised during the forums can contribute to Students’ Union activity throughout the year.
After a break for lunch the decision-making session of the Conference commenced. It followed the same format as a Student Council meeting with Council Chair Max Kiralfyi, who was elected during the March 2011 elections, firmly but fairly controlling the debate. Despite a time restriction of 90 minutes, seven of the nine motions were passed including Pro-Choice Policy, Unethical Companies at Careers Fair and Support Occupy Bristol. For a full list of motions please see the Student Voice section of the website. Motions that were not voted on will be discussed at the next Student Council in December.
If you attended the event and have any feedback or were unable to attend and would like to find out more about UBU, campaigning or how to get involved, please e-mail email@example.com.