A Step by Step Guide to the YUSU Policy Process
Simply put, if you are a member of the Student Union, which as a student you are unless you chose not to be, you can change your union. YUSU has a very well defined process of how to deal with policy proposals, sadly nowhere near as public as it could and should be. In an effort to alleviate this, Think Tank has compiled a concise guide to YUSU’s Policy Process.
Someone submits a proposal. This can range from a five page request which quotes the by-laws, to a few sentences in an email suggesting something should be done or changed. Submissions can be very specific or very vague, both will be dealt with equally, but you might be asked to stop by the YUSU offices if further clarification is needed. Proposals are best sent to the Policy Coordinator who is elected during the upcoming elections, firstname.lastname@example.org
Unfamiliar with this process? As mentioned, a proposal could be as simple as ‘YUSU should provide students with places to heat up food on campus. You may not know the exact requirements for such a policy, but that is where YUSU staff can help you out. You, the submitter, are not expected to think of every detail in your proposal. YUSU employs staff whose job it is to aid you in fleshing out the proposal and to write a policy briefing for you.
If the proposal is in line with the constitution and by-laws, YUSU staff will determine whether it is feasible. Most minor changes should be unaffected by this, but a major change may simply not be feasible to implement. For example, in some cases a potential policy may clash with UK law, or it could cost an exorbitant amount of money. However once again it is not your duty to check these things, but YUSU is meant to do it for you.
Once the proposal has been checked for its feasibility and the ramifications of implementation are clear, YUSU will compile a policy briefing. This document will outline the proposed policy, and what will happen if it were to become active policy. Shortly after, this briefing will be supplied to groups across campus, including college student associations, networks via their part time officers and other interest groups via full time officers. These representatives will consult their constituencies on whether they should support or object to the policy.
Once all groups have responded (minus those which chose to abstain), the Policy & Review Group, reviews the responses gathered. The PRG is comprised of the Policy Coordinator, and four students which applied to the position and were selected by a panel of officers, staff and network representatives. Their role during this stage of the policy process is to simply determine whether a clear consensus is present in the responses. If there is a consensus in the affirmative, policy is enacted. Should consultation clearly indicate members opposing a proposal, it is rejected. In case no clear consensus can be drawn from the responses, the PRG will decide to send the proposal to referendum.
Most policy proposals do not reach this stage, they either succeed or fail before going to referendum. In the event there is unclear feedback however, the wider student body will be consulted via a referendum. The exact details can be found in by-law 8 Referenda (yusu.org/aboutus/documents). Important details to note, is that you the submitter do not need to run the campaign itself, but can delegate this responsibility to another student. The biggest hurdle for any referendum is not to win the vote, but to meet the required turnout, which is set at 5%.
Written by Johannes Huber, Head of Research 14/15