Following the Liverpool Guild of Students’ 2017 Officer election, which created the first all-male team in over 30 years, current SO Yasmin Gasimova proposed an idea to Change It, calling for a gender quota.
After receiving 107 votes of support and 204 votes of disapproval, the idea was presented to Summit – the Guild’s democratic decision-making process, in which groups of randomly-selected students make decisions about often-controversial aspects of Guild and university life. Summit was unable to reach a consensus today, meaning the issue will be put to the entire student body in a Preferendum.
Initially, guest speakers presented the arguments both for and against a quota, and tables of students discussed the proposal. Following preliminary talks, the proposal was received with some resistance. However, following further input from the guest speakers and consideration of finer details, the mood began to change; several groups moved towards consensus. Towards the end of Summit, however, it became clear that several groups felt an agreement could not be reached. Moreover, some students moved away from the consensus in the final stages of Summit.
Guild President Sean Turner said: “Having spent two and a half hours intensely discussing the Change It idea of gender balanced representation in the Officer team, Summit failed to reach a consensus. I was pleased to see so much consideration put into the discussion but disappointed that Summit did not reach agreement. Furthermore, it is frustrating timing that this discourse will now have to be postponed until October due to the summer break.”
Beth Meadows, who has been a proponent of the gender quota since the election, said: “It’s really disapponting, obviously that a consensus hasn’t been reached. Hopefully, the Preferendum will go in our favour. I don’t really think there could have been much more said to try to convince people to vote in favour of the motion, but hopefully we can get together and try and run a really good and swift campaign to get people to put this motion through.”
Scott Johnston, who opposed the gender quota and proposed an alternative option, said: “The Summit was a totally unique experience, at first after the two speeches, almost the entire room seemed to reject the motion. After the staff said they wanted a consensus the groups went back to talking amongst themselves, and an allotted guild representative. They returned twice more, each time reducing the amount of rejection, and we ended at the decision for a Preferendum. I would like to see all liberation groups represented on this Preferendum, with Representative Officers, but unfortunately the Guild do not want this option to appear on the ballet paper [sic], it will however keep pursuing it as a separate issue, it will happen one way or another.”
Discussions led the students at Summit to propose a Preferendum with three options: Yes to the motion to reserve two Student Officer spaces for marginalised genders, a compromise to reserve one such space on the Officer team, and an option to reject the motion. The Preferendum is expected to take place in October 2017.