A motion at the Wadham Student Union (JCR) to have all future meetings conducted via Facebook was defeated last Sunday.
The proposal, which cited the present inability of absent and injured students to contribute to SU meetings, suggested that these weekly meetings should be held through the SU Facebook page, where any discussion and voting could take place. In this way, students would be able to take part in SU politics without having to be physically present at the meeting.
As explained in the SU agenda, whilst students would be permitted to take their laptops to the JCR and sit near one another, any discussion relating to the meeting outside Facebook would be prohibited, a rule which would be enforced by the Communications Officer.
Under the proposal, the Chair would comment on the Facebook post with “For”, “Against” and “Abstentions” after an hour’s digital discussion of a motion. The number of ‘likes’ on each of these comments after ten minutes would decide the verdict.
SU Tortoise Officer Joe Williamson, who proposed the motion, explained his motivation: “I spent a large portion of my time in the week before the SU meeting writing the motion to try and bring about some positive change in our failing SU.”
Williamson’s other reasons for conducting the meetings in this way included the ability to share links and pictures to demonstrate arguments, the opportunity for students who might otherwise feel intimidated to voice their opinion, and the lack of cushions in the Wadham JCR.
A further beneficiary of the motion would be the Wadham tortoise, Archibald, as SU President Anya Metzer explained: “The suggestion was by our esteemed Tortoise Officer with the goal of giving voice to Archibald Manshella, who is disenfranchised and marginalised during meetings where, despite attending often, he is unable to express his views.”
She later added that “also considered were those who live abroad or in the depths of Cowley Road.”
However, the motion was met with opposition by the Food Officer, who voiced concerns about being mandated to deliver pizza to students’ rooms every Sunday if the motion were to pass.
The Tech Officer also spoke against the motion, pointing out that this would not benefit students on a year abroad in China, where Facebook is illegal.
A further stipulation in Williamson’s motion was that, in the case of a draw during digital voting, the Tortoise Officer (Williamson) would have the deciding vote.
After the motion was roundly defeated, Williamson described his dismay: “To my complete horror, people seemed to find what I was saying funny and laughed right in my face.”
He added that he was “not angry, […] just disappointed in the so-called “progressive” attitude of the Wadham students”.