The University of York Student Union (YUSU) will be holding a referendum on creating a new “Working-Class & Social Mobility Officer” role between the 6th and 10th of October. The role would be a part time position. Online campaigning begins at 10.00am on Wednesday. A debate will be held in P/L/001 at 6pm on the 6th, after which the online polls will open. The question put to students will be “Should YUSU adopt a new Part-Time Officer position, the Working-Class & Social Mobility Officer, who would represent their own network?” according to a YUSU press release.
Michaela Tharby and Connor Drake are the ‘yes’ campaign co-ordinators. Tharby is a part time officer herself, currently working as one of YUSU’s Women’s Officers with Caroline Yarrow. Connor Drake is not a YUSU officer, but was a co-author of the original motion, submitted during the last YUSU policy process. The ‘no’ campaign co-ordinators will be Dominique Samuels and Jack Worrall. Worrall may be familiar to some after his nomination for the ‘Extra Mile’ Love York Award 2017.
The YUSU October blogpost offered this explanation for the decision to hold a referendum:
The motion went through our policy process. Having received strong feedback both in favour and against the motion, the student-led Policy & Review Group [PRG] decided that we should submit the motion to the student community as a whole, in the form of a referendum.
YUSU has held two other referenda in recent times. The first of these was on whether to remain affiliated with the National Union of Students (NUS) in June 2016. The second asked students whether YUSU should support a boycott of the National Student Survey (NSS) in February 2017. The turn outs were 16% and 5% respectively and on both occasions the votes were for the status quo. This new referendum will be conducted following the normal referendum rules, which have been approved by the PRG.
With low turnouts and an apparent reticence to change, Tharby and Drake may be hard pressed to secure a ‘yes’ vote. This referendum, however, is very different in nature in that it pertains to a role in YUSU itself rather than YUSU’s relationship to an external body. The ‘yes’ campaign’s main obstacle is more likely to be apathy than conservatism among the student body.
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