Graduation Fees, Timetable Apps & ‘Free to Pee’: The Union AGM

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Two weeks ago, on Monday, Student Union leaders hosted a meeting and invited all students to attend and vote on what issues the Union will tackle. There were a lot of heated debates on the issue's students wanted the Union to sort through. 

Timetable App Debate 

The first of a few controversial motions was for the creation of a timetable app for students. A number of students spoke for it, one specifying how NESCol has something similar. Although something similar was released at RGU many years ago, Union President Adam Johnston clarified that it was part of a project for a computing class and not an official release, and has not been developed further.  

An amendment for the motion to make sure that the app price either 99p or less, or more hopefully, free was passed overwhelmingly. Why the university would charge students to view their own timetable is anyone's guess. The amended motioned also passed. Adam Johnston said while he thought it would be easy, the motion was very heavily debated and amended. "It's really good seeing students engage in healthy debate" he later said. 

Final Grade Debate 

Another highly debated motion was made to change how a student's final grade was tallied up. Currently, the grade given for your degree was only based on the work produced in your 4th and final year, however this motion proposed to add 1st, 2nd and 3rd year work into the grade too. A large number of people spoke out against this motion, saying that, including the first few years, during which students are still getting used to university life and will naturally make mistakes, would unfairly reflect on their final grade.  

One woman even shared her story on a year which she was diagnosed with depression and thus did poorly; while having recovered since then, she wouldn't want the effects of that year to carry with her the rest of her life. Other people noted either a number of courses do something similar, or that people transferring from a 2-and-2 course will not have a simple solution to this. A number of amendments were proposed, but all failed as most people abstained from voting. Clearly, as they planned to vote no to the motion anyway, which is exactly how it failed. Adam Johnston said he thought a lot of good points were made.  

Gym Membership Controversy 

The second and final motion to fail was one to allow sports club members to go to the gym paying the RGU Sport membership fees. This was quite controversial as both Adam Johnston and President for Sports and Physical Activity, Gavin Rittoo, spoke against the motion being passed. Both suggest that it would be unfeasible to implement, as the RGU Sport, who sets the gym prices, operates separately from the Union or University. Furthermore, others spoke out against saying that the gym membership fees are among the cheapest in the country for university sports clubs. Unsurprisingly, the motion failed in a landslide. 

Other Motions & Progress 

Other motions that passed included: extra preparation for students studying abroad, implementing the lecture capture system in all schools, having more options for 4th year students, releasing exam dates earlier, making the first semester a week longer, and finally the oddly titled 'Free to Pee' motion to change the signage on the disable toilets to reflect all kinds of disabilities. Union President Johnston even noted how the 'Free to Pee' motion was of particular good quality and deserved to pass.  

The evening ended with some Updates and Other Business. News of the abolition of Graduation Fees, a payment all students must pay to receive their qualification at the end of their course, was met with thunderous applause. It was also announced that the union will be working to set free night buses for students. Finally, the union's mission to make all toilets on campus gender-neutral, while not making a huge amount of progress, there have been promising results. The University has decided to make what toilets they can gender-neutral, mainly the one toilet lockable rooms, but the Union leaders all said they are committed to achieving this mission.  

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