Emperor or doge?

Alex Coke-Woods 15 November 2007

Union officials have been prompted to rethink their plans for constitutional reform, after proposals to introduce an annual sabbatical Presidency met with a hostile reaction from some Society members on Friday.

“It’s not that I’m trying to destroy the Union Society,” James Robinson, Vice-President of the Union, told The Cambridge Student (TCS). Officials had “encountered some issues to do with the President being for a year,” he added at last Friday’s meeting on constitutional reform.

In the wake of these “issues,” Union officials have now abandoned plans for a single, annual Presidential term, as outlined in the draft constitution seen by TCS last week. Rather, Robinson has said that the plan now is to “split out the governance from the debates” and create a sabbatical “Uber-President.” A termly President, with sole responsibility for debates would be retained.

“I’ve clarified my thinking,” Robinson said. But, he added: “It’s quite difficult to come up with titles that are above President.”

“Obviously Emperor would work,” he said.

Other titles being considered for the new “Uber-President” include Praetor, Consul and Doge. Robinson added that his personal preference was for “Chancellor.”

Meanwhile, the storm continues to build over Union officials’ alleged misrepresentation of the reasons for the shock mass resignation of the Society’s three most senior officials last week.

In front of visiting speakers and members of the Union, Roland Foxcroft, Union President, verbally slapped down a member who sought to ask a question before last Thursday’s debate.

“I guess it was going to be some sort of quite pointed question about the senior officers and the kind of business we’ve had,” Foxcroft told TCS afterwards. “I thought he was going to start a debate.”

But when another member pointed out that, under Union rules, questions were allowed at the start of a debate, Foxcroft forcefully responded: “Sit down and shut up.”

The President, who last week called for members to share their views on how the Union should be run, told TCS that he had since apologised for his outburst. He had not “read up” on the relevant rule “in advance,” he said.

Members can vote on the new constitutional proposals in a referendum on November 24th.

Alex Coke-Woods