On the 20th of February RGU:Union held its first ever online AGM (Annual General Meeting). With covid-19 turning the whole world virtual, student politics was forced to join the masses.
The AGM is usually a time for students to voice their opinions and for the union to update students on financial and strategic movements that have happened across the year. It’s an important part of the RGU community calendar, often marking the end of the academic year, with balls and graduations to follow.
Despite the transformation from in-person to online, the AGM still had an extremely good turnout of 178 attendees. This is approximately 118 more attendees than needed for the AGM to go ahead and over half the turnout from the 2018 AGM. It could be therefore said that the new virtual method proves extremely popular with students, by making it more accessible to attend. However, the three gift voucher prizes may also have been a massive incentive in gaining such a large attendance.
Whilst all motions did pass, the motion that seemed to result in the biggest debate, or at least the most confusion, was Climate Literacy. Proposed by the RGU Go Green committee, Climate Literacy was set to be seen as encouraging all courses to have a mandatory lesson or module dedicated to discussing climate change and sustainability. However, as heated debate continued stating that some courses did already have this, it was perhaps a misinformed judgement on the behalf of RGU Go Green. With debate around this motion continuing, it became rather confusing and RGU GO Green ended the discussion on the motion by stating that it could be reduced to a simple 10-minute chat now and again between students and their lecturer. Considering the importance played upon the motion at the start by RGU Go Green’s committee, it would surely be too important a topic to reduce to just a simple occasional chat. This motion was passed, however with the outcome being relatively unclear, do keep an eye on its progression.
What must be stated, however, is that the Union can only feed motions back to the university. They do not have the direct power to change modules or make the university give tuition fees discounts, even if the motions are passed. Instead, once passed (if the motion relies on university action and not union action) then the union (mainly the presidents and vice presidents) discusses with the university any steps that could be taken to help make the motion a reality. Therefore, even if a motion is passed, it does not necessarily mean it will become a reality. Still, it allows the university and union to hear the student voice, which is extremely important.
Overall, it is very exciting to hear the overall RGU student voice. It is clear that climate change and student financing are the two most important issues to the RGU student community, yet the AGM brings hope that these issues will be resolved in some way.
In order to ensure that change does happen, however, please remember to vote in the upcoming student elections. Voting is the only way to ensure that the new RGU:Union presidents and vice-presidents represent your views and will make the changes you want to see.