Graduate students apathetic in GU referendum

Louise Ashwell - News Reporter 21 June 2012

The Cambridge Graduate Union (GU) has seen a disappointing turnout for its most recent referendum to change its constitution.

Only 723 students cast their vote, representing a mere 6.12% of the GU membership.

The motion “Should the Graduate Union adopt the proposed new Constitution?” nonetheless passed, since the current GU constitution requires only 200 votes from a student body of 6,000 for a motion to be passed.

The ‘Yes’ votes comprised 82.16% of the total. The change to the constitution means that it is now based on the National Union of Students’ model constitution, which will allow it to become a charity.

In doing so, the GU will benefit from tax exemptions, which its website states will allow it to allocate more resources to those services it offers, from welfare provision to representation.

According to the Charities Act 2006, the Union must also establish a Trustee Board responsible for the Union’s financial activities, which this new constitution formalises. The new constitution also makes changes to undergraduate voting rights: whereas the current constitution allowed mature and fourth year or higher undergraduates to vote and stand for the GU President position, no undergraduates will now be eligible to vote or stand for the position of President.

The new GU constitution will come into effect once ratified by the council on 1st July 2012.

Louise Ashwell – News Reporter