Agenda and Papers 15 10 12 by D7jit7Q


									                      Academic Council
    Monday 15th October 2012, 6pm, Pi in the Sky (KB House)

1. Introduction
2. Ian Pirie (Assistant Principal Learning and Development) - Feedback &
3. Campaigns and Policy:
      a. Academic Representation for Women in Schools         Paper A
      b. Their Jobs – Our Education                           Paper B
      c. Stop Edinburgh Requiring Language GCSEs              Paper C
4. Updates
      a. VPAA                                                 Paper D
      b. Library Opening Hours                                Paper E
      c. Timetabling Project
      d. Committees
5. Safe Space Policy – proposed amendment                     Paper F
6. NUS Scotland Zone Conference: Delegate and Plan of Work
7. Task Groups
                    Guidance for Meetings of Student Councils

Council meetings are run to allow all students to have their say, ensure fairness and
make sure that the meeting is a safe space. The Councils are intended to be as
representative as possible, and their agenda and outcomes are set by the students
of the University of Edinburgh.

You decide what the Councils do. All students can submit agenda items for the

      Issues/items for discussion a possible action
      Campaign ideas
      Proposed policy

Students can also bring up issues at Council meetings, although if they know ahead
of time that they wish an issue to be discussed, they should try to submit the item
ahead of time. This will allow information to be publicised in advance and likely lead
to quicker action on the issue.

If you wish to have something put on the agenda, please email the chair of each

      Academic Council: Andrew Burnie,
      Welfare Council: Hazel Marzetti,
      External Affairs: James McAsh,

If you have any information that is related to the agenda item, which you would like
to be made available to students before the Council meeting, please attach this to
your email. If you wish to submit policy, please contact the chair and they will be able
to advise you of the appropriate format and content.

Agenda items should be submitted by the Wednesday before a Council meeting,
and will be publicised online ahead of the meeting.

How Meetings Run

The Chair of the meeting is responsible for:

      The smooth running of the meeting, including ensuring that the meeting runs
       to time and that the meeting is a Safe Space for all students
      setting out rules for discussion and debate and enforcing these
      Ensuring fairness between contributors – including ensuring that equal time is
       available for opposing opinions/views

Where an issue is to be discussed – the chair will set out at the start of that item:

      How long the discussion/debate will go on for

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      How long each contribution should be (where relevant)
      Any other rule that will be applied to the discussion
At any point during a discussion/debate, students can:

      Offer to speak on the issue
      Ask a question of the Chair - questions must be questions, and not speeches.
       To indicate a question please use the yellow card you were given at the start
       of the meeting.
      Ask a question of a speaker - the speaker must agree to accept a question so
       that questions are not used to merely interrupt a speaker
      Ask the Chair to amend the rules that they have set out (for example ask for
       more time to discuss an issue, or to move to the next agenda item)
Where a student disagrees with a decision that the chair has made, they can ask for
a vote, which will be held on the specific issue. If the majority of the meeting agrees
with the student, the chair’s ruling will be changed.

Where any member of the meeting (including the chair) is violating safe space policy,
being disruptive, or repeatedly and knowingly not abiding by the rules of the meeting,
any student can call for a vote on their expulsion from the meeting.

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                     Student Councils Safe Space Policy

1. Members are expected to respect the right of all Council members, students
   attending Student Councils (and related meetings) and staff to enjoy EUSA as
   a safe space environment, defined as a space which is welcoming and safe
   and includes the prohibition of discriminatory language and actions.
2. EUSA operates a Zero Tolerance policy towards discrimination based on:
       a. Age
       b. Race and Ethnicity
       c. Disability
       d. Sexual Orientation
       e. Gender and Gender Identity
       f. Marriage and Civil Partnership
       g. Pregnancy and Maternity
       h. Religion and Belief
       i. Political Affiliation
       j. Class
3. All Council meetings shall be conducted with an assumption that the meeting
   shall constitute a ‘safe space’ for the conduct of debate, discussion and
   decision making.
4. A meeting shall be deemed to be a safe space where no-one is
   disadvantaged or discouraged from contributing, so long as they respect
   others’ ability to contribute; and where the principle of equal opportunities is
5. All members are expected to conduct themselves in a manner which is
   respectful and considerate of the contributions of others. This is defined as:
       a. Allowing Council members to speak when called upon by the chair.
       b. Refraining from speaking over, interrupting, heckling, laughing at or
          otherwise distracting from the speaker who holds the floor.
       c. Refraining from hand gestures which denote disagreement or in any
          other way indicating disagreement with a point or points being made.
          Disagreements should only be evident through the normal course of
       d. Avoiding using gestures which are not generally known or accepted by
       e. Gestures indicating agreement are permissible, if these gestures are
          generally understood and not used in an intimidating manner.
       f. Applause is acceptable when a motion is passed only, not if a motion
          fails to pass. Otherwise, agreement should be made clear within
          debate contributions.

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                                     Social Media

Members are asked to pay attention to the effect that use of social media can have
on whether EUSA and EUSA-related meetings constitute a ‘Safe Space’ for all
While social media is of necessity partly a ‘private’ space – someone’s Facebook or
Twitter account are their own space, and therefore cannot be regulated by EUSA’s
Safe Space policy in the same way as meetings; they also are ‘public’ spaces in that,
particularly in the case of twitter, they are publicly available and searchable.
Social media messages, whether sent directly from meetings or related to what was
said in those meetings can have the effect of making meetings regulated by the safe
space policy feel unsafe to some members. Members are, therefore, asked to bear
in mind the following guidelines:

      Members in a semi-public forum when discussing matters relating to EUSA
       are also representatives of EUSA.
      Disagreements should be aired in a respectful manner: it is often good to
       disagree; it is rarely productive to be disagreeable.
      Disagreements, where they are to be aired, should focus on differences of
       opinion and not on Individuals.
      When posting on social media sites, consider whether what you are posting
       would be something that you would say in a meeting regulated by the Safe
       Space policy, or directly to the person(s) affected. If not, consider the impact
       that this may have on other members and whether you really wish to post this
       comment in this way.

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                Academic Representation for Women in Schools

What will we do?
   Each school should nominate an academic representative for women; this
     academic must be a self-defining woman.
      The sabbatical officers should create a briefing for schools as to why this
       would be of benefit.
      The sabbatical officers are to support the Women’s Liberation Group in
       lobbying schools to implement this.
      This policy should be amended appropriately and taken further to the relevant
       University committee to be enshrined in University policy.
      This policy and the nominated representatives should be publicised to

What is the background to this?
   The University of Edinburgh’s student population contains more woman than
      Discrimination still occurs by men against women and that ‘banter’ by
       academics can make students especially those that are women feel
      After a complaint by a student SSPS have installed a women’s officer who is
       an academic for students who experience this.
      The academic representation of women is important and that students may
       feel uncomfortable reporting incidents of discrimination to men.

What beliefs motivate the actions you propose?
   That whilst Personal Tutors may be able to deal with this issue they are not
     always guaranteed to be women.
      That the University has strong policies on equality and that this would be an
       extension of that existing policy.
      That ‘banter’ and discrimination of any form within an academic environment
       is unacceptable.
      That this would be a move towards a culture change and an
       acknowledgement that discriminatory behaviour is unacceptable.

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                            Their Jobs – Our Education

What will we do?
   Give full support to any industrial action taken by campus unions.
   Lobby the University so that in any working-to-rule action, teaching and
     pastoral support are prioritised over research and other administrative tasks.
   Inform our members about any on campus industrial action and encourage
     them to support the staff involved in that dispute.
   Encourage university staff to join their relevant union and participate.
   Inform our members, particularly postgraduate members, about membership
     of trades unions such as UCU.
   Lobby the National Union of Students to support the relevant unions nationally
     in any on-campus industrial action.
   Liaise with campus trade union branches to discuss joint student/worker
     action around on-campus industrial action.

What is the background to this?
   The last three annual pay settlements have all been sub-inflationary, and
      have led to a real terms pay cut of over 12%.
   For an average lecturer, a12% real pay cut means that their annual salary in
      August 2012 is worth around £5,000 less than in August 2009.
   Both teaching and support staff have recently had their pension schemes
      changed to their detriment.
   Attacks on staff conditions tend to be linked to attacks on the rights of
   Industrial action has become a somewhat regular occurrence in response to
      continued attacks on employee terms and conditions.

What beliefs motivate the actions you propose?
   Pay rises that are sub- inflationary are effectively a pay cut.
   Although industrial action is likely to affect students in the short term, in
     fighting for their terms and conditions on-campus unions are fighting for the
     long-term health of a set of professions of which students are the primary
   Students and staff are stronger when we stand together.
   That the more staff has the support of students in the early stages of industrial
     action, the less likely it is that they will be forced to escalate their industrial
     action and therefore avoid inconveniencing our members.
   That the threat to the working conditions of staff is part of a wider picture of
     cuts to education funding which must be opposed.

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                    Stop Edinburgh requiring language GCSEs

What will we do?
   Mandate the VPAA to lobby the University to drop its requirement of a
     language GCSE in applications and to report back to Academic Council
     towards this.

What is the background to this?
      The University of Edinburgh requires applicants for some of its courses to
       hold a language GCSE even though languages are no longer compulsory at
       GCSE level in schools in the UK. This creates an unfair and unnecessary
       hurdle and means that prospective students who are otherwise suitably
       qualified are unable to even consider applying to Edinburgh.

What beliefs motivate the actions you propose?
      Education should be open to all. Requiring prospective students to hold a
       GCSE that they choose to take at the age of 14 is unfair: it is a qualification
       that many would not consider to be one they would need for a university
       application; it is a qualification that is more readily available at private schools
       and better performing state schools, so requiring it in a university application
       restricts access to university.

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VP Academic Affairs Report

Action Points
Summer Library Opening Hours Paper (attached). The paper was
written based on feedback from members of Council and other
postgraduate students.

It was submitted to Library Committee on the 10th October for
members of the committee to note and a brief discussion was held.
At the moment Information Services are costing extending opening
hours on Fridays and weekends through July so we wanted to keep
the pressure on. We’ll let you know once we have a response and
we can decide whether we need to take this further.

By-Election Update
This had to be written before election results were known but in terms of nominations
it’s a mixed bag. We will have Undergrad School Reps in all but 2 of our schools
(Health in Social Science and Education) which is excellent. We’ve also made good
contacts within schools that we can hopefully use to help us attract more
nominations from those schools in future.

The grad school rep positions are a little less rosy. 13 of our 20 positions are unfilled
which is a very disappointing number. This hasn’t been helped by the lack of a
Postgraduate Convener, as the position was vacant from March. Over the start of the
semester I attended as many PG events as possible to try to recruit nominees but
we didn’t schedule any events early in the nomination period. This is a lesson
learned for next time. Happily we have a contested Postgraduate Convener position
with two excellent candidates.

Over the year we’re going to be working hard on Postgrad Engagement through the
(newly renamed) Postgraduate Forum and the Postgraduate Network. Also setting
up more events jointly with the Postgrad Society to ensure that the issues facing
Postgrads are not overlooked.

VPAA Update
Since we last met I’ve taken most of the issues that were raised and put them into a
document that was circulated last week (included in the papers) on where we are on
a number of issues.

I’ve also been meeting the the head of the parents committee for Uni-Tots the central
area nursery. It seems the University are determined to press on with plans to close
Uni-Tots when the new KB nursery opens. This is in spite of a consultation with

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parents that it has been admitted found parents using Uni-Tots would not use a KB
nursery. The school of psychology wants their space and it is not an ideal location for
a nursery so the parents are happy to move within the central area however the
University turned down the opportunity to make an offer on a building that has now
been taken over by the Meadows Nursery instead. A Freedom of Information request
shows that this option was dismissed as it was hard enough to make the ‘business
case’ for the nursery at KB. This was until the places in it were increased by the
number Uni-Tots would lose.

The parents are currently looking into having the University’s Staff Trade Unions
survey members about demand for a nursery in the Central Area to show it is as high
as for one at KB. EUSA will also send this survey out to student parents though it
would be good to start thinking of other campaign ideas as it seems to me that it is
likely this campaign will need to be stepped up though we need to be careful that the
parents remain the leaders of this campaign.

In a recent meeting it was raised that senior management in the University want to
look into reducing the number of resit examinations taken. This would not be done in
a way that was a detriment to students but by looking into diversifying assessment
so we student would not need to sit a second exam to prove they had an
understanding of the learning outcomes of a course. Over all I think this is a positive
move but I want to hear from reps what they think of this.

I’m also concerned that this may be implemented too quickly. While the original
comments were around it being for academic year 2013/14 there was a suggestion
that some sort of trial may be done this year. I’m worried that changing the goal
posts mid year may worry students who are already in precarious positions in terms
of their studies. I’ll keep an eye on this at University level but will need school reps to
be doing the same in their schools in case any choose to jump the gun.

Problems With Learn & MyEd
At the moment there seem to be problems with Learn and MyEd and even the speed
of the internet connection in the Library. If you have problems, or if you see someone
complaining about problems on Facebook can you get them first to email and also to drop me an email. At the moment I’m struggling to
get data on whether these are isolated problems or much wider issues and at the
time of writing the IS Service Alerts page (
departments/information-services/services/status-alerts is alerting me to the fact that
it is down...

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And Finally…
I wanted to end on a chemistry joke but all the best ones Argon.

                                                   Any Other Questions Just Ask!
                                                    Andrew (

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                   Students' Views on Summer Opening Hours

During the undergraduate summer break the Main Library scales back its opening
hours. In July these generally include opening at 8:30am on weekdays, closing
around 8pm Monday to Thursday, 5pm on Fridays and only three hours of opening
on a Saturday. The library does not open on Sundays in July.

Confusing Patterns
In a 7 day week there are up to 4 different sets of daily opening hours which can
cause confusion about when the Main Library will be open. Most commonly this
occurs with Friday closing when students are asked to leave at 5pm. While the hours
are shown on the Library screens and website they are often not noticed by
students. Expecting the Main Library to be open when it is not increases the
frustration students had with the shorter hours.

24 Hour Opening
The Library also opens for 24 hours on one day in August shortly before the main
postgraduate deadlines which is greatly appreciated by those students.

June and July Opening
June and July are a crucial time for many Postgraduate Taught Students as they
begin their dissertations and have the bulk of their research to do while August
requires further research and the write up of their theses. All Students asked found
the hours in these months to be lacking.

Part-Time Students
Problems of access are compounded for part-time postgraduates, who need to work
full-time along side their studies to fund themselves. A student working 9-5 Monday
to Friday would have very limited access to Library resources, due to the restricted
evening and weekend opening. One part-time student, from the MSc By Research in
History, told us; ‘I worked two jobs to get myself through my degree, it wasn’t easy
and I felt severely hampered at a critical part of my studies by not having access to
the books I needed.’

Some students take resit examinations in August. They often have to work full time
to support themselves over the summer as no funding is available. Saturday hours in
August are shorter than those on Sunday, with Sunday unstaffed. Students told us
they would prefer longer hours with less staffed time on Saturdays in August.

At the start of semester one of the academic year some Medical Students sit
examinations. In the run up to these the Main Library reverts back to opening for just
three hours at weekends with The Chancellor’s Building Library completely closed.
With exams to revise for and students on placements in summer they need access
either to the Main Library or their site Library every day at this time.

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Noise Complaints
Students also fed back complaints about the levels of noise from the on-going works
but also from visitors to the Library. This could be helped by making clearer the
availability of earplugs from the Helpdesk and ensuring that visitors are asked to
respect those studying.

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Amendments to Safe Space Policy

All amendments concern point 2 of the policy:

"EUSA operates a Zero Tolerance policy towards discrimination based on:
     a. Age
     b. Race and Ethnicity
     c. Disability
     d. Sexual Orientation
     e. Gender and Gender Identity
     f. Marriage and Civil Partnership
     g. Pregnancy and Maternity
     h. Religion and Belief
     i. Political Affiliation
     j. Class"

Amendment 1: to sort these points alphabetically, thus not implying unequal

Amendment 2: the term "race" in point (b) is a socially constructed notion that is
hereby being reproduced. We would suggest replacing it by "race" (in quotation

Amendment 3: "Gender Identity" in point (e) is redundant, as the notion of "gender"
applies solely to what one identifies with anyway. Using both terms implies that these
are two separate things which might make people wonder if EUSA thinks that
"Gender" is something solid that differs from what oneself identifies with.


External Affairs Council on the 8th October 2012 approved Amendment 1 but
rejected Amendments 2 and 3.

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