Thursday 18th February saw us host the RGU:Union Annual General Meeting. All students at Robert Gordon University are automatically members of the Students' Union, and this meeting gives them an opportunity to voice opinions on the decisions that affect the running of their Union. Students were given the chance to submit their own ideas (motions) before the AGM, which would then be debated and voted at the meeting. In total we saw over 160 students show up and participate, more than doubling the number from last year.
From the first votes, approving the minutes of the last meeting, and approving constitution changes, the floor was then opened to debate on the three motions submitted by students. The lead motion, submitted by six people, was "to lobby the university to change the academic calendar and move exams before Christmas". A host of student participated in a lively debate with strong arguments for the change from a sports club perspective, as it was argued that RGU teams are at a disadvantage due to the delayed start.
There were further arguments from the perspective of international students around the difficulties the current calendar has for arranging holidays home and the cost of travel, as well as the psychological impact of not being able to enjoy holidays with exams in January. Alternative arguments came from students on placements concerned around the impact to them, as well as debate around the impact of the change on other holidays in the year. In the end, an amendment was passed to ensure the Union seeks further feedback from groups of students (such as distance learners, part time, postgraduate, placement and more), and the motion as a whole was passed.
The second motion debated was around "fighting to bring back our Students' Union bar in the city centre with reasonably priced food". There was debate around the need for a safe space for students, but also that it may be better to focus on getting a venue in Garthdee. After a controversial amendment narrowly passed removing "collaboration with Aberdeen University and North East Scotland College", the motion as a whole passed.
The final motion was around "introducing mandatory Study Skills classes for third year direct entry students". A short argument was made with the view that the Study Skills support exists already, so it does not need to be mandatory, after which the motion as a whole failed. Next in the meeting saw the approval of accounts, affiliations, donations and trustees report.
The penultimate item was exclusive announcements of up and coming projects at RGU:Union. Students at the AGM were presented with a new Students' Union strategic plan, the launch of the Union's new 'Life Right' housing campaign, as well as an exclusive first look at the new Deeview Student Store which is moving to University Street in summer 2016.
Finally, this years elected officers got to present an update of their work for the year, after which students were given the opportunity to ask questions. Overall, the meeting was a great success with lively debate and RGU students voting on key issues that will directly affect their time at university.
Full minutes, papers and video of the Annual General Meeting are currently being processed and will be published at www.rguunion.co.uk/agm in the coming weeks.