Abortion has long been one of the more contentious issues at Queen’s University Student’s Union and currently, QUBSU, doesn’t actually take a stance on this issue.

On Thursday 4th December The Scoop was granted permission to survey student councillors on a range of issues. Our results, not surprisingly, show that taking a stance on the issue of abortion remains a contentious issue, with the majority of SU councillors expressing different opinions on this topic.

We asked student councillors whether they though that QUBSU should take a stance on the issue of abortion, and if so, what stance should that be. 42% of student councillors polled take a pro-choice stance, whilst 47% believe that the Students Union at QUB should be neutral on the issue. Only 10% of student councillors polled took a pro-life stance.

At the time of our polling we surveyed the opinions of 40 councillors out of 99, and although this gives us a good snapshot of the opinions of the councillors, if the issue of abortion was to be brought up at Student Council next semester it would certainly be hard to predict precisely which way council would vote in the end.

It’s likely that pro-choice campaigners at QUB will be relatively happy with this result given that the margin between pro-choice and neutrality only stands at 5%. One more thing that must be taken into consideration when looking at our polling results, is that data was collected anonymously from student councillors. If this issue were to be voted on at QUBSU council, a different result may possibly occur as student councillors wouldn’t be voting anonymously.

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Student Officers get the thumbs up

Student Officers at QUB can collectively breath a sigh of relief after our survey results show that Cllrs. feel Sabbatical Officers are paid the right amount, and have overwhelmingly voted that SU Officers are sufficiently held accountable.

The Student Officer team at QUB are paid a salary of £17,000 each. Overall this means that £119,000 is spent on Student Officer wages. 56% of Cllrs. told us that they felt that the £17K salary is ‘about right’. 20% felt that the Sabbaticals are paid too highly and similarly 23% felt that the Sabbaticals aren’t paid enough. Significantly not a single person told us that they don’t care how much their student officers are paid.

We asked whether or not student Cllrs. felt that the Sabbatical Officers are held accountable to a sufficient standard. This question was interesting because it is effectively the role of the Cllrs. themselves to hold their Student Officers to account, but it is also the role of the Student Officers to provide sufficient answers to questions.

Student Cllrs. voted overwhelmingly that they believed that their Sabbaticals are held accountable with 83% of respondents telling us that they felt their Sabbaticals are held accountable to a sufficient standard. From this we can infer then that the majority of Cllrs. both believe that they are doing a good enough job to hold their Student Officers to account, and we can assume that they are happy with how well Sabbaticals answer their questions. Subsequently 17% of Student Cllrs. feel that Sabbaticals aren’t held accountable to a sufficient enough standard.

Best performing sabbatical

With a team of Seven Sabbatical Officers, it’s sometimes not easy to know which officer is working the hardest on behalf of their students – so I decided to ask the councillors exactly which Sabbatical Officer they felt has been doing the best job so far.

From the data collected, a clear favourite topped the poll. Hannah Niblock, who is VP of Education, was the clear favourite as 39% of those polled voted that Hannah is the Sabb who has been performing the best so far.

The next favourite was VP for Equality and Diversity, Caoimhe McNeill, who received the support of 18% of Cllrs.

There are two notable observations that we can make. Firstly, the SU President Ciaran Gallagher polled quite low, as he only received the support of 9% of councillors. Ciaran Gallagher is widely liked amongst student councillors but clearly these amiable feelings didn’t translate into support for Ciaran doing the best job. A second observation of importance is that the women Sabbaticals all polled higher than any of their male counterparts. The lowest polling women Student Officer, Chloe Patterson, received 15% support, compared with the next two highest polling male Student Officers, Ciaran Gallagher and Colin Stevenson, who both received just 9% support each.

On a side note, the political playing field outside of the Students’ Union is often dominated by middle aged men. Our results evidently show that student councillors feel that the women Sabbaticals have been performing better… Who says we don’t need more women in politics?

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Paul Wyatt

Paul Wyatt is one of the founding scoop members. As one of our on-the-ground reporters, Paul reports on anything and everything happening in Queen's, the greater Belfast area, and beyond.

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