General Meeting June 2012

Goldsmiths UCU General Meeting minutes

1pm, Tuesday June 26th, RHB137a

AGENDA

1. Returning to Industrial Action on USS Pensions
2. Report from UCU Congress from Goldsmiths Delegate Tom Henri
3. Report on Student Protests in Quebec
4. Motion: Goldsmiths United Against Austerity
5. Motion: Postgraduate Recruitment
6. AOB

1. Returning to Industrial Action on USS Pensions

With UCU congress voting for a return to ‘Work to Contract’ action in the USS dispute, both Goldsmiths congress delegate Tom Henri (TH) and Branch Secretary Des Freedman (DF) noted the need for concrete discussion on what this entailed. Locally, it was agreed that in addition to UCU’s official guidelines (see http://bit.ly/MV90MN), the following steps should be taken by UCU members at GoldsmithsCollege:

–         Take all Annual Leave.

–         Use the email autoreply created by the Branch President last Autumn, which has been effective as a statement to management and a way of spreading information about the dispute (see http://bit.ly/MScHq3)

Branch Administrator Ben Osborn [BO] is to distribute these guidelines, and the text of the Auto-Reply, today.

2. i) Report on UCU Congress from Goldsmiths Delegate Tom Henri (TH)

TH and Luke Evans (LE) described a lively, vibrant and encouragingly progressive UCU congress, with many new voices.

TH reported on the discussions around the return to the USS dispute, which showed a different and more politicised mood in the union. He also noted that a democracy commission had been set up by congress, in response to the General Secretary’s surveys and platform on democracy. LE reported on a series of motions and debates that showed an active and admirable concern about equalities and fair representation, as well as a strong presence from anti-casualisation campaigners.

A full report of congress, including all motions and whether they were passed, is available at http://bit.ly/NFPDNk.

Natalie Fenton (NF) asked whether issues around the Research Excellence Framework (REF) had been raised, and whether any national response to REFexisted. LE said that this had come up in the Anti-Casualisation committee earlier this year, in discussions about the casualisation of research, and suggested there had also been motions carried condemning REF.

NB – I can confirm that there were two motions carried on this, HE29 & HE30; please see http://bit.ly/M0k8NT [BO]

DF noted, echoing sentiments voiced in our March GM (see 28/3/12 Minutes, item 2), that members should continue to monitor that management abide by the guidelines concerning REF that have been drawn up by the College.

ii) National Student Survey

TH noted that UCU congress motion HE8, a commitment to replacing the National Student Survey (NSS) with more meaningful systems of feedback, had been passed with the Goldsmiths amendment to oppose and refuse compliance with NSS(see http://bit.ly/Ldla58 for full text of the motion).

Members of the branch, as well as observers from Goldsmiths Students’ Union (GSU) expressed approval at this, but also stressed the need to develop a replacement of the NSSas soon as possible. Brian Alleyne (BA) from Sociology noted that NSSis a flawed instrument, while NF expressed concerns about NSSbeing linked to UCAS. Samson Osun, GSU President, stressed the need for a new model, and Soren Goard, GSU Welfare Officer, added that this was would need to be a more inclusive, organic system that didn’t play off students against lecturers. Jamie Woodcock, UCU member and member of NUSNEC, pointed out that NUShad not passed a motion against NSS, as SUs needed a tool to lobby management and used NSSin this way; so a new model would be needed before widespread opposition to NSScould be implemented.

It was agreed that Samson, Soren, BA and DF would meet next week on this; BO to contact them and agree a time and date.

3. Report from Quebec

Unfortunately the speaker from Quebec was not able to attend. However, we will continue to distribute information about the situation in Quebec, and DF informed the branch that the Exec had already agreed to make a donation to the legal fund, which was sent last week.

4. Motion: Goldsmiths United Against Austerity

Proposed: Des Freedman.

Passed unanimously.

Members of UCU and GSU officers agreed it would be good to be involved with local anti-cuts groups on this, and UCU member Toby Abse agreed to attend a local meeting of Trade Unionists and activists tomorrow.

5. Motion: Postgraduate Recruitment

Proposed: Luke Evans.

Passed unanimously.

6. AOB

i)                    PACE

DF announced good news: it seems the BA in Social & Cultural Studies, which was threatened with closure, will instead be moved to Educational Studies.

ii)                  Monitoring of International Students

DF expressed concern that a document had been shown in Media, asking staff to act as ‘Checkpoints’ in the monitoring of international students – a shocking step backward considering the campaigns against this kind of thinking and language. No one else present had seen this document yet in their departments, though we ask members to look out for this. DF to circulate this document.

iii)                Call for Caseworkers

DF put out a call for caseworkers.

John Wadsworth, Annette Bullen, Brian Alleyne, Justin Davin Smith, Tom Henri, and Susan Kelly all expressed an interest in receiving caseworker training. BO to organize this with UCU head office.

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