News

Media Charter Referendum Statement

On Tuesday 6 June, an unsecure petition of over 200 students was received by the Students’ Union President calling for a referendum on repealing Byelaw H of the Students’ Union’s constitution. The signatures within the petition have now been verified in accordance with Article 7 of the constitution – a document approved by all students in 2016 – and a referendum has been called by the President.

As the academic year has now ended, a referendum will be held in the first term of the 2018/19 academic year – as soon as possible after the start of session. This is in order to secure the highest level of participation and make any decision as democratic as possible while ensuring new members also have a say on an issue that will directly impact them.

Prior to the referendum, we are also looking to establish a formal working group chaired by the President – with membership consisting of the heads of each media outlet and an external member of the Board of Trustees – to look at the current Byelaw H and establish what changes, if any, should be made. Our intention is that Byelaw H facilitates the great work undertaken by committed, talented student journalists, but that also reflects the relevant requirements of charity law.

How Does a Referendum Work?

Byelaw B sets out the specific rules regarding referenda, including the fact that constitutional amendments must reach a quorum of 5% of registered members voting to be valid. In addition to this, Section 5 requires RHSU to ensure referenda take place at a time or place that it considers will encourage the highest level of participation. In effect, to hold a vote when as many members as possible are able to both participate in the discussion and cast a ballot.

It’s also important to understand how changes to the constitution are made. Articles 14 & 15 of the constitution covers amendments and byelaws, and sets out the provision for any changes to be made – this was agreed by an all student vote in March 2016.

Next Steps

On Thursday 7 June the Board of Trustees discussed the issues highlighted in the petition, and has agreed to the following outcomes:

  1. The petition was accepted, and the President has agreed to call for a Referendum on Byelaw H. We encourage student participation in all of the democratic structures of the Union.
  2. As we are now out of term time, in order to secure the highest level of participation and make any decision as democratic as possible, a referendum would be held in the first term of the 2018/19 academic year – as soon as is practically possible after the start of session.
  3. As per the constitution, the Union’s Steering Committee is responsible for setting the exact wording of the referendum question, and this would meet in early September to consider this.

If you have any questions, concerns or queries about the referendum you can contact your Students’ Union President, Tasha Barrett via email.

Board of Trustees
Royal Holloway Students’ Union