Our policy and accountability activity has been challenging for some time. We reflected that the level and nature of engagement was, in part, being constricted by the structures we had in place. We decided that in order to generate more meaningful democratic participation in YUSU; to be more responsive to your needs and to provide a transparent space for you to debate and hold your representatives to account, we needed to review the very way we thought about and organised policy and accountability.
Our review of the processes, ultimately, was to explore how our democractic activities - how we involve you in decision-making, in generating new insights, and in dialogue with your YUSU representatives - could reach a wider range of students, be dynamic and empowering.
From what we have learnt, we have now created what we think is a more engaging, transparent and exciting approach to our accountability and policy-making functions, led by you, the students. After various stages of campus-wide consultation, alongside discussions with student leaders and our Board of Trustees, we have created two new By-Laws that detail our commitments in these areas. In summary, these are the changes we have made:
We now have a dynamic digital platform that has a simple central submission point to encourage any student, at any time, to submit an idea for change. The process overall is called ‘YUSUggestions’, replacing the term ‘Policy Process’, as we listened to many of you who fed-back that this term was unengaging and unclear. The digital platform will allow students to vote and comment on ideas and receive public feedback from Sabbatical Officers, creating an interactive and transparent process. Have a look and start submitting your ideas here.
The Ideas Forum
Instead of the previous Policy Review Group, decisions relating to the YUSUggestions process will now lie with the new Ideas Forum. This Forum will be made up of Officer Group (Sabbatical and Part-time Officers) along with representatives from other areas of student life (Colleges, Sports, Societies). We hope this will embed Officer involvement and ownership of the process along with broadening decision making to wider student groups. For larger ideas that require more substantive feedback, the Ideas Forum will lead on reaching out to students to hear their opinions. This may be in the form of written feedback, discussions or debates.
An exciting new position - The Accountability & Scrutiny Chair
In our previous system, accountability and policy were combined under the elected Policy Coordinator and the appointed Policy Review Group, with policy often overshadowing the accountability element of the role. To enhance both elements, we have decided to separate the areas and create a new exciting role: the Accountability and Scrutiny Chair, which will allow a stronger focus on accountability and transparency. This elected role will chair a committee of randomly selected students that will be responsible for: overseeing accountability processes such votes of no confidence against Officers; hosting termly open meetings with Officers; chairing the annual general meeting (AGM); and approving election rules. The policy side of the previous system will now be the responsibility of the Ideas Forum as described above.
The full details…
If you would like to know more about how these changes came about, you can read our report here. You can also access the full By-Laws below.
The Accountability and Scrutiny Chair will be a student elected role with nominations opening on Wednesday 21st October. If you are interested please read the role description here and contact [email protected] with any questions.