The last three LSE SU Union General Meeting (UGM) motions – regarding more microwaves on campus, more water fountains in the library, and a democracy review – have failed to garner enough votes to reach quorum and be implemented.
250 votes are necessary for a motion to be quorate. The past three motions have not reached more than 76 votes in favour, with no more than two votes against (or abstaining).
SU executives recently met to discuss the state of democracy at LSE. According to someone present at the meeting, the tone was one of frustration. Strategies discussed were largely focused on marketing UGMs more effectively.
The UGM held 1 February saw fewer than 15 people in attendance, with most attendees joking about being there to “get stars” for their societies. After a briefing by relevant officers on upcoming events, the absence of the motion’s proposer was noted, and a break was called.
The proposer presented her speech 35 minutes after the UGM was scheduled to begin. She outlined her frustration that water fountains – “something basic,”- were not available on every library floor, in under a minute.
In an interview, she told our reporter she had sent a complaint to the Students’ Union via Facebook regarding this matter and was encouraged by the SU to turn this into a motion which included greater demands, such as resting areas and microwaves.
A motion which passes becomes the LSESU’s policy on a given subject for three years, but the Union cannot be compelled to spend money. When the Beaver’s representative expressed that students could not make an informed decision for lack of understanding of how LSE funding is allocated presently, the Democracy Committee members present did not propose a way to grant access to that information. The forum dispersed twenty minutes before schedule.
When asked about the state of democracy at LSE, a student in attendance suggested that UGMs would benefit from general subjects up for discussion rather than specific motions. Another student admitted she did not know who represented her cohort as a master’s degree student and expressed frustration that students from her programme lack a voice. Various other students in attendance, including the proposer, expressed an ignorance of what the function of UGMs were.
The previous motion on the 25th of January proposing a democracy review was presented by SU General Secretary Mahatir Pasha, who stressed the decline of democratic engagement at LSE and in the UK in general. The motion resolved to begin a “democratic review process,” suspending weekly UGMs in the meantime and holding them “at least once a month” to “collect data on the impact of this change.”
After the failure of the motion, Pasha released a statement noting this outcome was both foreseen and indicative of inaccessible, out-of-date structures. An “internal report” is to be sent to the SU Trustee Board asking for permission for a “detailed consultation” with SU members.
The most well-attended and popular UGM this academic year was regarding the stripping of Aung San Suu Kyi’s honorary Students’ Union presidency: the motion received 309 votes in favour, 46 votes against and 5 abstentions.