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Oxford Union cuts standing committee to five officers

The Oxford Union has cut its Standing Committee by two members in the hope of improving efficiency.

An Oxford Union public business meeting on 11th February passed a motion for the “reduction in the Number of Elected Members of Standing Committee” from its current seven officers down to five.

This motion, proposed by the President James Price, Worcester College, passed 41-34 and is set to be implemented at the end of 8th Week of Hillary term 2021.

This comes as a direct overturn of the decision in Trinity 2017 where it was voted for the Standing Committee to be expanded from 5 members to 7. The policy which was implemented in Michaelmas 2017 caused controversy and led to an investigation as the then-president added two previously un-elected Standing Committee candidates as officers. However, his decision was later cleared and the seven-member Standing Committee has since been instituted. 

The Standing Committee is the Union’s governing body, which makes all major decisions concerning the running of the Society, and oversees the work of all committees. It is also a requirement to be an officer of the Standing Committee prior to running for the office of President.

Today’s meeting was extremely well-attended with 87 people present at its height and many ex-officers coming back to make speeches both for and against the motion. 

Points in favour of the motion largely included the manageability of such a large committee and a desire to stray away from a lot of the bureaucracy currently present. There was also the concern of costs as Union committee members who work over the vacation are compensated with £8 per day, a figure that is set to rise to £12, and members are usually expected to commit to 10 vacation days.

However, those against the motion were concerned that this was an access issue, with a lack of opportunity especially for those who choose to run in the election independently without a slate.

A Union spokesperson told Cherwell: “The decision to reduce the number of members of The Standing Committee was taken at a meeting of all members. It is hoped that this decision will make the Committee more efficient. This is also part of a wider group of reforms intended to improve the accessibility of the Union’s Committee.”

Image Credit: Topper the Wombat. License: CC BY-SA 4.0.

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