Friday, January 27, 2006

The re-structuring debate roll’s on…

SU PRESIDENT Ben Preston claimed that a recent move by the University, after negotiations had proved to be “a victory for the Students’ Union”. This came as a decision was made not to split the Union between two directorates, as initially planned. The Union was to be split between two new directorates in line with the Queen’s Vision and University Re-structuring. Since then however the Union Executive has been involved in negotiations with the University to see this plan changed. Ben said the Executive had wished to see the Union “remain as a single entity” and had won “that round of negotiations.” However it has been policy of the Executive not to see the Union under the Directorate of Commercial Services, which many students oppose. Ben did however reiterate that he regarded this move as a victory in terms that the Union was “not to be split between two directorates” and that he had to get the best deal out of the situation.

At the December meeting of Council Socialist Society members voiced their opposition to the plans in a motion presented to Councillors. The motion called for the organisation of a rally in protest against the University plans. In speaking to The Gown Student Daniel Waldron and proposer of the motion to council said that “the current restructuring in Queen’s represents a further series of cutbacks in our education services”. He argued that “the private sector is not interested in providing students with a decent education focused on their needs.”

In November a motion, proposed by the SU President, was passed by Council stating “unanimous” opposition to the University plans of re-structuring and the movement of the Union into the Directorate of Commercial Services. Mr. Preston stated that the Executive Committee opposed the movement of the Union into the directorate “because of the divergence between the traditional ethos of student unionism and the assumed ethos of the proposed Directorate of Commercial Services.” The Executive proposed that they be moved into a Directorate other than Commercial Services. It appears though that the Executive has so far not been successful in achieving this objective in negotiations, however they have succeeded in retaining the Union as a single entity.

At the November meeting a 'working group' was also established “to represent the Students’ Union to the University on the specific issue of Academic Support Restructuring.” Mr. Waldron and colleagues came under fire from fellow Councilors in proposing their motion, in December, due to the moves made at the previous meeting in opposing the plans. In questioning Daniel on this he said that he “supported the setting up of the working group", but has "little confidence" that Student Council or Union Executive Committee "are capable of or having the correct approach to running a successful campaign.”


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