Last night the Guild’s Board of Trustees confirmed that the proposed preferendum on a gender quota for Student Officers will not be held. Last year a request was put through Change It for gender balanced representation, but no consensus could be reached at Guild Summit back in May, so the Guild began to pursue the possibility of a preferendum. But now the possibility of a preferendum on the subject has been quashed as the Guild has found that any gender quota would be illegal under UK employment law.
Since May the Guild has been considering all options but no legal solution could be found to satisfy the original Change It proposal or the demands of the Guild Summit. In an ‘extraordinary’ meeting of the Liverpool Guild of Students Board of Trustees on the 26th of October 2017, made up of the 4 Student Officers, 4 Student Trustees and 4 External Trustees, it was deliberated and agreed that it would be legally impossible for the Guild to hold a preferendum.
While other Student Unions and indeed the NUS have positions assigned for women, they do so by having specifically assigned roles with “being a woman” as a prerequisite. The Guild’s current issue is that the Student Officer positions do not have separate briefs, and therefore reserving 2, or even 1 of the jobs for women would not be legal.
Speaking on Friday to The Sphinx, Guild President Sean Turner said that “It’s really disappointing that we have had to halt a democratic activity but this was out of our hands and we have to abide by the law. The issue of representation is at the top of our agenda and we are now working hard to refocus our efforts on new and innovative ways to improve our current standing. We will, of course, be talking with students about any ideas and really want changes to be developed from the grassroots up.”
He also added that “If people have questions or suggestions please do come and find me in my office or over email, firstname.lastname@example.org.”
In a statement released on Friday, the Guild said that “On the issue of liberation, we will continue wider work to design and implement structures to support these groups” and it has further committed to improving its democratic structures and to establish a ‘Democracy Working Group’.