UCL Union Council condemns air strikes in Syria

UCL Union Council condemns air strikes in Syria

Yesterday’s UCL Union Council passed a motion denouncing the government’s decision to launch air strikes against ISIL in Syria.

They also passed motions setting out guidelines on visiting members’ involvement in UCLU societies, and in favour of better support for survivors of sexual violence, including the ability to discipline perpetrators without a court decision against them.

Activities Officer Katba Imansouren made the case for condemning air strikes, describing the possibility of civilian deaths as, “Evil, horrific, and unjustified,” and asserting that this would only fuel extremism and anti-Western narratives in the region.

She also claimed that a “credible case” for air strikes had not been made, that public protests had been ignored, and that the government decision had not taken the complex tensions between multiple rebel groups in the region into account.

The motion was proposed by Imansouren and seconded by Welfare and International Officer, Tom Robinsion, and Ethics and Environment Officer, Zakariya Mohran.

This motion, like every other proposed motion of the evening, passed unanimously.

The other big motion of the night was proposed by Women’s Officer, Natalie James, which proposed support for the NUS’ #StandByMe campaign in creating a more effective system for dealing with sexual assault cases, and supporting survivors.

The second point of the motion reads: “The only guidance on dealing with sexual assault cases within universities is the Zellick Report, created in 1994. It advises universities not to investigate cases and not to go through disciplinary procedures until the victim has reported the incident to the police.”

James argued that this report was outdated, and that current understanding of sexual assault cases would instead argue in favour of disciplinary measures for perpetrators and a strong support network for survivors as soon as an incident came to light. The motion also favoured partnership with RapeCrisis centres in order to provide better specialist care and support.

After the motion passed, James told us, “Passing the #StandByMe motion puts extra pressure on UCL to improve their support services for student survivors, and continue their work in combatting sexual violence on campus. It adds the voice of UCLU students to a growing national campaign, co-ordinated by NUS; a campaign which is calling for a change in the way that UK universities deal with sexual violence on campuses, a voice which will hopefully be reflected in the final report of the government’s Lad Culture Inquiry which is due to publish its report and recommendations in September 2016.”

Finally, Sports Officer Nick Edmonds proposed changes to visiting UCLU membership. Studens on disruption of study will now be able to purchase affiliate membership (£25 for the year) and participate fully in Union activities.

Members of other universities will now find it more difficult to become UCLU members, and will only be able to participate in society activities if the society in question requests this directly, and it is approved by the Activities Executive Board, or the AEO. Cases will be approved only if the society can prove that the visiting member benefits the society more strongly than any other UCLU member.

Council members were also warned that they were all obliged to attend meetings. There were 12 members in attendance last night, whereas there are 46 constituent members of the council.

Union Chair, Sohail Badat, stated that constituents would be informed that their elected officers were not representing them. However this may not have been an effective warning, considering only 26% of the Council were there to hear it.

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