The Truth About the OUSA SGM

The Truth About the OUSA SGM

You can do whatever you want

OUSA is holding an SGM (Student General Meeting) this week.

OUSA have been advertising the SGM as the Executive doing Executive things in public because they need to do it once a year. However, what the Exec haven’t made particularly clear or easy to find is that any member of OUSA (so, almost all of you) can submit a motion for the student body to vote on. This opens the door to absolute shenanigans.

OUSA’s Facebook post about the event says “An SGM is where OUSA puts forth questions and students get to vote on them!!” That’s not strictly true.

At an SGM, the Executive is at the mercy of the student population. Despite OUSA claiming that the event is meant to prevent the problem of “students wanting to raise things but never know how or feel they can,” they have made no visible effort to give students that power. 

In this SGM, the only advance motion submitted that wasn’t from the Executive was an OUSA policy nerd calling on the Labour Government to honour their promise to include postgrads in the student loan programme. OUSA did not post the form that allows students to submit motions on their Facebook page or on the SGM event page.

When it comes to the SGM itself, OUSA only require a minimum attendance of 0.5% of the Uni’s student body (this works out to around 100 or so), but there’s also nothing that requires students to vote the way the Executive wants. 

On the agenda for this week is the Exec asking for mercy over the three constitutional breaches they’ve committed this year. Yes, you are totally allowed to not forgive them. Also on the docket is a measure that would require clubs to show up to SGMs if they want grants from OUSA. This has been tried before, but it failed, because the clubs actually showed up for once to vote “no”, so that they wouldn’t have to show up again.

But it's not like the only things to vote on are the things that they present. An SGM can be called at any time by the student body via a letter sent to the Secretary with a minimum of fifty signatures, at which stage motion submission will open. 

Here, your wildest dreams can come true. Former Critic Editor Charlie O’Mannin wrote in a 2019 editorial about how the Rowing Club brought all their members along to an SGM and made OUSA fund a $1.39 million Aquatic Centre. Students could, for example — and this is just an example — they could force OUSA to fund the Hyde Street Party and support the return of the Agnew Street Party, if they so wished. 

Not looking at you, Sign Up Club.

This article first appeared in Issue 7, 2021.
Posted 9:13pm Sunday 18th April 2021 by Alex Leckie-Zaharic.