Young Greens’ Response to QUB Senate Decision on “Good Academic Standing”

In response to QUB Senate’s recent decision to overrule the QUBSU’s removal of the ‘good academic standing’ rule for students running for election to the sabbatical Officer posts in the university:

The Young Greens are immensely disappointed and angered by the QUB Senate’s decision to overrule the democratic will of the students by blocking a policy that was voted on by elected representatives in the Students’ Union Council and that was then ratified by a referendum of the student body.

The removal of the need for students to be in ‘good academic standing’ has been something that students have campaigned on for several years now, as it actively discriminates against disabled students, students with caring responsibilities and students who have been vulnerable around the time of their exams, as it considers deferring or failing a single exam to not be in ‘good academic standing’. This means that students who are most affected by some key aspects of the Students’ Union’s work in recent years around mental health campaigning and accessibility for students with diverse experiences are excluded from being able to contribute their wealth of first-hand knowledge to improve the situation for future students. As a university that claims to pride itself on being inclusive and accessible, and one that emphasises that a degree at Queen’s goes beyond the classroom into the wider experience, we think it is hypocritical that the Senate would explicitly maintain this rule that excludes students from engaging in all that Queen’s offers.

The QUB Senate’s decision also shows a lack of respect for students and a disregard for democratic decision-making, as well as a level of interference in the unionisation of students that should not be accepted. The Senate’s decision shows a decision made by student representatives, ratified by students, on which students can run to be elected by other students as representatives of the student body through a students’ union being thrown out by a group of non-students. This is not effective unionisation, and it is extremely disempowering to students to see such disrespect for their admirable campaigning and engagement in democracy.

Young Greens NI would first like to see the removal of the discriminatory academic standing rule, as supported by the SU Council and then by student referendum. This issue also raises concern around the ability of students to effectively unionise when the Student’s Union is not independent of the university and is actually reliant on its support, so we would like the union’s position to be reassessed with an aim towards democratic reform to allow students to truly control their union’s policy. We believe this will empower students to engage in grassroots activism around a range of causes to improve the university experience and the experience of young people across Northern Ireland, while also promoting more democratic decision-making.