This morning Student Councillors at QUB have been informed that due to legal advice being received, Council will have to reconsider a constitutional amendment that they had recently passed regarding the ‘good academic standing’ rules.

We reported in February that some Councillors were planning on challenging the passing of the amendment because they felt that due process had not been followed.

A complaint had been raised by Student Councillor Timothy McLean at the council meeting when the amendment was proposed again, after it did not require enough support to pass, the first time it was raised in Council this term.

McLean claimed that Councillors had not been given the constitutionally required 10 days notice that a constitutional amendment would be forthcoming at that meeting.

After McLean raised this point, Council took a vote on whether or not they should proceed with the amendment, despite there being constitutional flaws. However, council voted to proceed.

When Council meets again on the 19th March, Cllrs will have to take another vote on whether the ‘good academic standing’ rule should be amended. The current rules state that, in order for a student to stand for Student Office, they must be ‘in good academic standing’.

The Scoop has been given access to an email which was sent to Councillors informing them of the decision to revise their last decision. Student Council will now consider the following:

 

(i)                   To remove the Constitutional requirement to be in ‘good academic standing’ at the time of standing for officer election and throughout the term of elected student office – Council is being asked to ratify this proposal again in the light of legal advice arising from the procedural complaint that was issued at the February 2015 meeting.

(ii)                 To change the date by which nominations for the student officer elections must be submitted, from the eighth day before polling to the twelfth day prior to the elections, in order to provide sufficient time to produce the increased numbers of posters, manifestos, tee shirts and placards that each candidate is entitled to.

This is likely to cause concern to the proposer of the amendment, Sarah Wright.  Electoral reform is an issue close to her heart and she has previously proposed this same amendment, only for it not to garner the required support and hence, failed to pass.

Commenting on the news that the constitutional amendment in relation to ‘good academic standing’ is to be brought back before council, Cllr Timothy McLean, who raised objections at the February meeting,  said:

 

“I’m delighted that common sense has won the day and that my quite legitimate constitutional objection has been acknowledged. Despite being told at the February meeting by both the Speaker and Deputy Director that my objection was valid, Council decided to hear the amendment on the agenda.

I felt it was important to take a principled stand on this issue and ensure that the constitution could not be abused in future. While my objection was not specifically to the contents of the amendment itself, it was designed to ensure that the protections of the constitution not be usurped by council at a whim. While many will see this as irrelevant, for those minority voices in council like myself, it is a hugely reassuring step.”

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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