OUSA Referendum Open For Voting

OUSA Referendum Open For Voting

The sexy part of democracy: reading documents to be an informed voter

This week OUSA’s yearly referendum is up for voting, and it’s time to exercise those sexy democratic rights. The referendum is divided into two sections: wider initiatives and amendments to the constitution. There are plenty of extremely important initiatives this time around, and we encourage you all to go and vote on what you think will help students.

There’s a lot of financial mumbo jumbo, like approving the budget and affirming our auditors (PricewaterhouseCoopers, for those interested). Aside from that, OUSA wants to lobby the University for things such as free sanitary products around campus, definitive plans around Covid-19 alert level changes and grade bumps in the event of those changes.

They’re also suggesting that they could lobby the Uni for a commitment to dual-delivery learning (i.e. permanently both Zoom and physical classes) and ask the Government very politely to let us put ourselves an extra $1000 in debt to make ends meet over the Covid-19 chaos. OUSA did note that these latter two would incur significant financial cost, first to the University and secondly to our own bank accounts, but with alternate aid unlikely to be forthcoming, it may be the only option students have.

OUSA are also asking whether they should push for flat hunting to start in semester two as opposed to extremely early in the year (a craze we’re all familiar with). In the official referendum document, OUSA noted that “it could help reduce the number of flat viewings happening throughout the year for existing tenants and reduce student stress.” It would also mean “landlords would be held more accountable for their poorer quality flats, as they would become available at the same time as better-quality flats and not signed out of urgency in the first semester.”

On the contrary, problems arise with shifting the flat-signing culture and “would involve lobbying private landlords and property agencies to change their business plans.” It could “also lead to a bottlenecking of demand for flats and to further stress later in the year for students.” It’s a potentially very high reward manoeuvre for OUSA, but would involve a lot of work hence it being put up in the referendum.

The constitutional amendments section of the referendum mainly revolves around changing individual words and clauses as if it were an episode of Suits, but many do have an impact on students. OUSA looks to change two clauses, which would allow them to solely post updates on social media as opposed to making announcements both on social media and physically on a notice board.

The Exec is also looking to further clarify who constitutes an international student and who is allowed to vote for certain Executive positions in yearly elections. While they note this may lock out fringe cases from being eligible under certain criteria, they hope that clearer definitions will make it easier to tailor services for those groups.

Another important constitutional amendment the Exec wants to change is the ability to validate constitutional breaches through necessity instead of just whether it provided a positive benefit to students. This would allow OUSA to justify breaches from situations arising from Covid-19 amongst others, but also potential opens the floodgates for a wider range of breaches being validated.

This article first appeared in Issue 25, 2021.
Posted 3:27pm Friday 1st October 2021 by Alex Leckie-Zaharic.