The first Student Representative Council meeting of the year took place on Thursday 27th November. Lasting almost four hours, the meeting was a combination of two meetings due to the cancellation of the meeting scheduled for Tuesday 11th November. Due to the absence of Stephen McIlveen, Jay Downs acted as temporary speaker on the night, and Fergus McAleavey VP Welfare was unavoidably absent due to work commitments in London.
After nominations were cast by the council for various positions, the main issues were then put forward for discussion. Each Student Executive member was requested to submit a report previous to the meeting which was then challenged by the council. Paul Courtney VP Clubs and Services, and Kevin Kelly VP Education faced more questions from the council than any of the other Executive members. Shane Brogan VP Equality and Diversity, took this section of the meeting as an opportunity to praise his colleague Laura Hawthorne VP Community. He told council that over the past few months he has witnessed Hawthorne's dedication and unrelenting determination to fulfill her job to the best of her potential. This was then seconded by a member of council.
President Ciarnan Helferty was asked to explain what perks the Executive members receive from the Union due to their positions of responsibility. He told council that members receive tickets for Mandela Hall on Mondays and Thursdays by way of contacting Rod Martin in the early part of the day, and then purchasing their tickets at the porters' desk. Other perks included entrance to gigs taking place in Mandela Hall.
Speaking about the infamous Qsis system, President Helferty commented that the failure of the system has effected everyone, and that students should expect to receive an email which will include an explanation and an apology within the next few days. He added that there wasn't one single member of the QUB staff that was not aware of students' concerns in regard to the system.
Paul Courtney promised that a fully functional Resource Centre will be opened by the start of next semester, and revealed intentions of applying to the Alumni Fund for a grant.
When questioned on his removal from the Union by security staff, James Murphy VP Campaigns and Communications assured council that he had apologised to the staff involved, and commented that since the incident he had been “sticking to the orange juice”. He went on to defend his editorial in The SU Magazine by asserting that all comments were made in jest, and that the purpose of the magazine was to entertain. When council member Joe Corina asked Murphy if he thought he had acted maturely in regard to the magazine and if he expected people to take it seriously, Murphy replied that he had merely used the everyday language of QUB students. At this stage, Seamy Og Mac Giolla Cheara pointed out that the magazine printed a disclaimer, and so Murphy cannot be held accountable for the views expressed in the magazine. Paul Courtney also commented that the Irish News and Belfast Telegraph refer to the “Poly” in sports reports. A member of Dance Committee raised his hand to offer a point of information at the end of this section of the meeting, in order to point out that Murphy allegedly did not apologise to the security staff involved in his removal from the Union. Dominic Doherty, Deputy General Manager, dissmissed this point as irrelevant.
Next on the agenda was still on the topic of The SU Magazine, and this time it was in regard to the photo which was included alongside Anne Pauli's abortion article. Murphy accepted responsibility for this, citing it as an overseen mistake in which there was absolutely no intention to insult. Council member Joe Corina took this opportunity to commend Murphy on his willingness to apologise and accept responsibility. Anne Pauli spoke to The Gown after the meeting and put forward her certainty that his decision to include the photo was not an accident and that it was a massive insult to German people. She went on to say, “It's a reflection on society. When Iris Robinson wasn't removed from office for her homosexual slurs, then why should James Murphy be removed for his insults?”
Next council meeting will take place on Thursday 4th December 6pm in The Space.
ALL STUDENTS WELCOME.