Referenda give you the opportunity to shape the Students’ Union and its activities.
The Students’ Union offers referenda as a platform for students to submit a proposal to the student body in an effort to make a definitive change to the way the Union operates. The question or topic proposed goes to an online vote that all students can participate in.
Previous referenda have resulted in students deciding to stop Union outlets from selling Nestle and Coca-Cola products, and the creation of new Full-Time Officer roles (Society and Citizenship Officer and Postgraduate Education Officer).
Referenda can also prompt the Students’ Union to take a stance on a wider political issue. Last year, students voted that the Union should campaign for students to boycott the National Students Survey in protest at plans to link the survey to increasing tuition fees.
Frida Gustafsson, President of the Students’ Union said: “Referenda are a really great way to make your voice heard and to get students to vote on issues that matter to you. It is our most direct form of democracy and every vote matters, so I actively encourage students to get involved - whether through submitting a motion or question of your own or by casting your vote.”
Any student can submit an idea for referendum through two different ways:
You can submit a petition with the support of at least 150 students. Any student can request a petition and once the petition reaches 150 student signatures, it will be considered for referendum.
You can submit a clear outline of your idea to one of the Full-Time Officers to take to the Union’s Executive Committee.
Petitions are also a good way of testing the water as to the overall opinion of students on campus. Pursuing a referendum this way can provide an idea of how popular your proposal would be should you choose to take it further.
Daniel Green, who had his petition go to a referendum in 2015, explained: “It was a really easy process to get the issue I was passionate about to a vote. After going round and getting the support of 150 students, my motion got put to a referendum in a matter of weeks and I was then out campaigning for my cause!”
Although his referendum did not pass, Daniel looks back at the process positively: “Even though I was disappointed with the result, I was pleased I was able to get the student body talking about an issue close to my heart and start a conversation about a campaign important to me.”
There are two referenda periods scheduled for this year - from 27 November to 1 December and 20 to 23 February. To be considered in time for the November voting period, you must submit your idea to one of the Full-Time Officers to present at the Executive Committee by 30 October or submit your petition of at least 150 signatures by 8pm on 6 November.
Find out more about referenda, including how to set up a petition.