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Student Council vote on adopting pro-choice stance, replacing Activities Representative system

On Thursday 27 October, Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) held their monthly Student Council meeting.

The meeting discussed a motion on making the Students’ Association explicitly pro-choice, as well as an extraordinary motion to restructure the Activities Representatives system.

It also discussed an expenditure request by the 93% Club to fund another #StateSchoolProud campaign, this one focusing on Scottish students’ experiences.

Results for the three votes held during the meeting will be announced on Monday.

If the pro-choice ballot has 67 per cent or more “For” votes, it will pass, while if it falls between 33 per cent and 66 per cent, it will be referred to a university-wide online ballot.

Accountability reports

Before the discussion of and voting on the three motions, the five Sabbatical Officers presented their accountability reports.

These detail the work they have done recently towards achieving their manifesto aims.

During this time, a student survey carried out by one officer was discussed, which found that 81% of those surveyed do not feel as confident in in-person exams as in other forms of exams.

This opened a discussion around potential issues or benefits associated with in-person assessment, especially around equity, accessibility and stress. 

An engineering student raised a concern that in-person, closed book exams are “not testing anything relevant to [their] industry.”

Agenda

Motion on funding 93% Club’s #StateSchoolProud campaign

The first motion was an expenditure request proposed by Andrew Wilson on behalf of the 93% Club, which was to secure funding for the #StateSchoolProud campaign. 

The campaign, which was first run last year, aims to “call out elitism and classism” on campus. 

The 93% Club have gathered testimonies, particularly from Scottish students “who don’t feel that they belong at a Scottish uni” due to elitist sentiments which range “from ignorance to outright discrimination.”

The request will be funded if it gets 67 per cent or more “for” votes.

Motion on replacing the Activities Representative system

The second motion, entitled ‘Enhancing Student Voice’, was submitted by Natalia Ellingham (VP Activities and Services).

It proposes a replacement of the Activities Representative system intended to better reflect the range of student-led activities students undertake.

The current system, based solely around societies, sees 14 Activities Representatives elected for one year terms.

If the motion is voted through, this will change to a system of 4 Student Opportunities Representatives and 5 Campaign Representatives.

As an extraordinary motion, it needs to have 67 per cent or higher approval at two consecutive Student Council meetings to be implemented.

Having already passed the September Student Council meeting, if this motion gets 67 per cent or more “for” votes, it will be implemented.

Motion on making EUSA pro-choice

The final, and most anticipated, motion of the meeting was submitted by Isi Williams (VP Community) on ‘Supporting the Right to Choose’.

This is a repeat submission of a motion which was in place for four years, but was allowed to lapse without renewal under the assumption that it was no longer necessary.

Williams stated that “[I]t seemed necessary [to reintroduce the motion] in the aftermath of Roe v Wade overturning, as I saw more and more attention to pro-life movements in Scottish politics.”

“The decision about whether to continue a pregnancy can influence whether a student is able to access their right to education.”

“This isn’t about moderating individual opinions, but ensuring that all of our members can have autonomy over their bodies and access to the healthcare they need.”

Williams discussed anti-abortion currently happening in Edinburgh, giving the example of a student being targeted by anti-abortion group 40 Days for Life outside Chalmers Clinic.

Similar sentiments have also been seen on campus, as the Life Society have recently faced backlash for hosting a talk titled ‘Abortion and Coercion’.

Women’s Officer Hope Conway-Gebbie asked Williams: “If this motion can’t stop the Life Society from existing…what tangible change would it actually create?”

Isi Williams explained that the passing of this motion would enable the Association to support pro-choice campaigns both on a symbolic basis and on a more practical basis.

Sabbatical Officers would have a mandate to support and create campaigns to improve abortion access, such as a potential ‘buddy scheme’ for those nervous about accessing abortion services.

There were no speeches in opposition to the pro-choice motion during the meeting.
teviot row house” by Jon Vrushi is licensed under CC BY 2.0.