Towards a Better Student Democracy

How to Improve the Student Motion System at EUSA

There is currently a lack of engagement with the student motion system (SMS) at the
University of Edinburgh, both in terms of proposing motions and voting on them. We suggest that
through increasing student participation our proposals will improve the democratic legitimacy of the SMS and mean the SMS is better suited to achieving policy outcomes that benefit the
student population at large.

Published

2021

University of Edinburgh

Authors

Mairi Bruce

Jade Taylor

Sammy McKinney

Jenny Jarrett

Rosie Willis

Executive Summary

There is currently a lack of engagement with the student motion system (SMS) at the

University of Edinburgh, both in terms of proposing motions and voting on them. This lack of

engagement was displayed in our survey, which found that 75% of student participants did

not know how the SMS works.


In brief, the SMS operates in the following way. A motion is proposed by a student to induce a

response by EUSA, such as lobby the university or initiate a campaign. When a student

proposes a motion, it is discussed and voted on at the student council – composed of EUSA

officers and student reps, as well as the general student population who wish to attend.

Motions with 67% or more support at the student council are passed.


This report recommends five policy proposals to address the limited engagement of the student

body with this system.


Firstly, EUSA must employ a more effective marketing scheme for their system.


Secondly, the language surrounding the SMS must be changed to make the process

more accessible to students.


Thirdly, EUSA must ensure that all students wishing to propose a motion are provided

mentorship by a member of staff to ensure the SMS is equally and easily accessible

throughout the student body.


Fourthly, improved feedback mechanisms from participants who were involved with

the SMS need to be instilled so that the system can be continually honed to meet the

needs of students.


Lastly, the EUSA website formatting must be improved to ensure information about the

SMS is easily accessible.


Moreover, this paper proposes that in the long run EUSA must consider establishing a

randomly selected jury of students to be decision-makers on policy. Overall, we suggest that

through increasing student participation our proposals will improve the democratic legitimacy

of the SMS and mean the SMS is better suited to achieving policy outcomes that benefit the

student population at large.