By Policy Coordinator
The Policy Review Group convened to look through the feedback collected on consultation from two policy ideas included in the second Policy Briefing Pack of Term 1:
- Should YUSU implement the 5p plastic bag charge at its retail outlets? [Submitted by Environment & Ethics Officers]
- Should YUSU endorse ‘Preventing Prevent’, and take a stand against the Prevent policy? [Submitted by Socialist Society]
The job of the Policy Review Group is to analyse the feedback given by the networks, colleges and full-time officers and decide whether there is consensus on any of the given policies. If the feedback is positive the idea will become active policy, and if the feedback is negative then it will not. A lack of clear consensus either way leads to a referendum or further feedback will be requested.
It should be noted that this meeting was delayed by a week in order to give networks and colleges more time to provide thorough feedback. This was due to the fact that the Part Time Officers had experienced an exceptionally busy couple of weeks, and that college elections had also taken place during the consultation period. Whilst some groups did not manage to give feedback on the policy ideas, it was still decided that enough feedback had been given so as to be adequately representative of the student body.
Firstly the PRG looked through the feedback regarding the 5p bag charge. Although concerns were raised regarding the impact this may have on students’ budget, these were overwhelmingly in the minority. The feedback showed a clear consensus in favour of the idea, citing a general support for the environment and an acknowledgement that this was a policy that followed on from current UK law. As a result the PRG decided to action this as a YUSU policy.
Furthermore, in line with the feedback given, the PRG resolved to consult with the relevant officers once the policy was passed in order to decide where the revenue from plastic bag sales should be spent - it was suggested by a number of the networks that the money should specifically go towards environmental causes, and it was agreed that this was something the PRG should look into.
The PRG then analysed the feedback given with regards to the second policy ‘Should YUSU endorse ‘Preventing Prevent’ and take a stand against the Prevent policy?’. The feedback showed widespread concern with the government’s Prevent policy and the impact that this could have on students, especially those who are part of minority ethnic groups.
However, the feedback also showed general unease at the prospect of YUSU taking a stance against the Prevent policy and how it might affect the organisation’s ability to combat Prevent in future discussions. Specifically there was a fear that boycotting Prevent would hinder YUSU’s ability to work with the University and would restrict the union from taking part in future discussions and impede student engagement on the issue.
Due to these concerns, the PRG decided that it was not in a position to make a decision on this policy idea when the consequences of actioning the idea to become YUSU policy were not clear, and when the feedback showed widespread concern about such consequences. As a result, the PRG resolved to table the issue till Spring Term and endeavour to acquire more clarity in terms of what the policy would actually mean should it be passed, specifically the requirement that “The YUSU Officers, both Full-Time and Part-Time, would be mandated to NOT engage with the Prevent strategy - and to boycott it as far as is legally possible.” What would the practical implications for boycotting Prevent be? And how would YUSU engagement with the issue be affected? The PRG agreed that it needed clear answers on these questions before any further action could be taken on this idea.
In summary, the PRG actioned Idea 1 as active YUSU policy due to a clear consensus in favour of the idea given in the feedback, and concluded that the implications of Idea 2 being actioned needed to be clarified before it could reach a decision on the idea.