If you are a Union Council member, you are able to submit a policy for debate. This means, if you have an idea, or something you want to change, you can present it to the council to debate and vote on. Policy can be difficult if you have no experience with it, with this in mind, we have outlined a stop shop on how to write policy for union council!
Policy proposals are written items for discussion and decision at Union Council and when passed become Union Policy for two years. Union Council members are elected to represent student and need as much information as possible to make an informed decision.
What does policy look like?
Below is an example of policy. There is a clear and concise name at the top, alongside the names of the proposer and seconder. The proposer is the person writing and proposing the policy; you. As outlined in our constitution, you need a seconder to submit policy. This means you need two people to propose policy to council, and you both must be councilors. It is best to approach a counselor who you know shares the same views as you on the matter to which you are proposing, or go directly to an Officer who can support you.
Beyond this, the policy is clearly separated into three sections, council notes, council believes and council resolves.
How to Write a Council Paper
The paper should be structured as follows:
Title – Should be concise and comprehensible
Proposed by – (name of the member of the Union proposing the paper)
Seconded by – (name of the member member of the Union in support of the proposed paper)
Union Notes (Facts) – establishing factual information on the topic.
Union Believes (Opinion) – What you believe consider to be true. This is where debate will come in. What you believe may not be what other councillors hold true.
Union Resolves (Actions) – What do you want to happen. Tell the Union what actions you would like to be taken by the organisation. Such as mandate officers to speak to college/external or what resources (time or physical) allocated.
If you need support writing policy, feel free to contact the Campaigns and Democracy officer Hamish Williams.
Tips on how to Write a Successful Policy Proposal
- Show how it affects members. In order for Union Council to want to vote for your motion it should written in a way that makes it clear how students can benefit from the policy or how a problem / issue affects them. An issue that affects all students every day is far more likely to receive lots of support than a policy which does not appear to affect them.
- Gather support for your proposal from students before submitting it to Union Council. A proposal submitted to Union Council is more likely to be agreed if it is clear that it has support. If you can state that you have already surveyed 100 students or conducted a focus group which has agreed the issue is important.
- Be realistic. A policy which calls for all members to be given £100 printer credit each year is not something the Union can deliver. Your proposal should be practical, realistic and achievable. Be aware that it is not the remit of Union Council to mandate action that involves the operational running of uea(su) or that specifies the allocation of resources.
- Be accurate. It is important that the proposal is accurate in order to be passed and supported. Reference any quotes you use and be prepared to provide additional context if necessary. For example – if you are referring to a research report then make this available, if current information requires revision then think about what the updated information would say.
- Be aware of restrictions. Although policy voted on at Union Council becomes the policy of the Union, the Unions policy cannot override University policy. This means a policy to add an extra 10 weeks holiday to the academic year could not be implemented. The policy could call for the Union to lobby the University to review the academic year, with a view to providing more revision time (for example). uea(su) must adhere to several regulatory frameworks. It is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees to ensure that UPSU upholds this duty and as such, the Board of Trustees has the power to overturn any decision made by Union Council if there is a conflict. Whilst we seek to identify any issues before a policy proposal is debated, policy may be overturned by the Board of Trustees at any time during the two year period, in response to any regulatory changes.
- Be prepared to campaign. As part of your role on Union Council you are expected to initiate and run your own campaigns, this will be with the help of the other Part-time officers, Full-time officers and Staff. You cannot expect others to get enthused and run a campaign you have suggested, if you are not prepared to get involved yourself. It remains your responsibility to implement the policy and you will be expected to update on progress throughout the year.
Please click here for a policy template to use. REMEMBER to send policy to E.Damery@uea.ac.uk 10 working days before the Union Counil meeting you want to present it at, otherwise it will not be added onto the agenda.