For all of the talk this week from Pete Childs and others about the quality of Loughborough’s ‘democracy’, as well as news starting to seep out about who may or may not be contesting the Executive Elections, last night’s Council was always going to be good. It proved to be more than that.
By far and away, it was the best meeting of the academic year; well attended, detailed debate and high levels of student engagement. It was a shame, therefore, that some shambolic events towards the end of the three-hour sitting somewhat undermined the good work of every single person in the chamber.
Before I elaborate further, it must be said that for all of the flak that he has received in recent weeks, James Carroll chaired the meeting exceptionally. I have it on good authority that more than a few individuals went into Council with a plan of launching the vote of no confidence that has, recently, been talked about so much. He simply did not give them an opportunity to do so, sidestepping some direct attacks and managing to uphold the independent nature of his position.
On the flip side, cries of ‘Yes!’ after Childs won support to replace the Chair as Head of the Elections Committee from Childs himself and Councilor Zoe Lloyd surely should not be welcomed. The latter was even heard stating: “Great, that means Rambo (Carroll) won’t have anything to do with elections.” Harry French Hall Chair, Max Turner, encapsulated the scene perfectly: “Is this the Council Chair vs VP Democracy or is it just Rambo vs Pete?” It certainly did get very personal.
The truth is that the Council Chair has put any question of a confidence vote to bed. Now, there would be no justification for any such a move on the part of councilors.
Despite criticizing Childs and Lloyd, they both deserve equal praise. The latter made point after point all evening that each hit the nail on the head and kept Council in check. As for the Union Vice-President, he has done a brilliant job in reforming a Candidates’ Pack that wasn’t worth the paper it was written on eleven months ago. There will, inevitably, be controversy during this year’s elections. However, I do believe that Childs has done as much as is in his power to limit it.
With nearly three hours of excellent debate on the detail of the Candidates’ Pack and the new Executive positions, I was hoping to be able to do nothing but heap praise on Council today. Needless to say, the last few minutes were nothing less than a farce.
Three new councilors were elected to vacant posts without even a gesture of democratic practice. One councilor proposed that their election go straight to a vote without even an introduction of who they were or what they stood for. Needless to say, with many keen to head home or to FND, they were voted on. It’s nice to see ‘democracy’ at work. Today, the Union President acknowledged that the situation was “scary”.
As for the voting of councilors onto Elections committee; there were at least token questions asked. Despite this, the fact that one such councilor is a Loughborough Campus Radio committee member and will, no doubt, play a key role in elections coverage, is concerning. When asked whether this particular conflict of interest should occur between elections committee and the media, Pete Childs said he would “take it very seriously”. Undoubtedly, the individual would do a great job. It is the principle and the theory that is the problem.
Childs is calling an impromptu meeting to discuss the matter this week where, one hopes, a decision will be made that upholds the integrity and the honesty of the Vice President and establishes the complete independence of all those on Elections Committee. It is wrong for an individual to make editorial decisions on the media side of things as well as be responsible for dishing out bans and sanctions.
Nevertheless, a great Council. Sometimes, I think it is important some take a second thought to what a proper ‘democracy’ actually means though.
It would be good to hear your views and opinions on any of the matters I have mentioned or that arose in last night’s meeting. Re-read Andrew Lawton’s updates as it happened here and be sure to pick up Issue Seven of Label Magazine on January 27 for his summary.