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SU launches groundbreaking Turnaround plan with help from University

Oxford Student Union (SU) has announced its new “Turnaround Plan” with help from the University aiming to “transform the governance and operations of the SU”. While the student council has been suspended in the interim, the SU will not be shutting down and will continue many of its regular activities. 

The plan comes after multiple controversies rocked the SU in Hilary term. The elections held in week five attracted controversy after many of the candidates alleged that a ‘secret slate’ had been campaigning together despite rules against it. This led to a wave of discontent against the SU, culminating in Corpus Christi College’s disaffiliation, which inspired similar motions in many other colleges. 

Another point of controversy was the Trustee Board’s decision to block two motions of no confidence meant to be chaired in the week seven student council. The decision led to the chair of the council, Isaac Chase-Rahman, resigning at the start of the meeting. In the meeting following his resignation, the council put forward a motion of no confidence against the entire Sabbatical Officer team for their conduct, which was also blocked by the Trustee Board.

The SU acknowledged concerns about “the SU’s ability to operate and represent the student body effectively” which also “created additional pressure on Sabbatical Officers.” This sentiment within the SU culminated in the Trustee Board’s decision to work on this urgent turnaround plan and ask for help from the university.

According to the SU website, the plan currently consists of: a review of student representation systems across the University and a review of the Union’s representation structures and operations, including staffing structures, people & culture, delivery and income generation. 

The plan will be implemented by a Transformation Committee that is co-chaired by the SU and the University in order to create a “more responsive student representation system”, one which “ better supports the Sabbatical Officers.” An additional goal is to improve “clarity among students about the SU’s purpose.”

While the SU will not be shutting down during this transition period, it will cease most student-facing activities and projects during this time. The Student Council will be dissolved and replaced with a “consultative body” to allow for student participation in the transformation planning. While charity and local community engagement efforts will be halted, the SU will continue to operate the Student Advice Service and facilitate student-led campaigns, student representation on University and college committees, and welfare provisions to colleges. 

The SU stated that “the current proposal is that Freshers Fair will take place in 2024.”  but did not outline a full timeline for the transformation. They have been contacted for comment.

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