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Leeds University Union

Leeds University Union (LUU) is the representative body for the students at the University of Leeds, England. Aside from representing students, the union includes numerous shops and bars as well as an award-winning nightclub. Leeds University Union is one of the largest students' unions in the UK.

Facilities

The unions houses a supermarket - 'Essentials' - which sells everything from sandwiches to stationery, and a smaller shop - 'Extras' - which is open until 10pm every night, during term time and 5pm during holidays. Extras sells a selection of snacks and drinks, along with alcohol, tobacco and newspapers.

'Union Books' is a large bookshop, and one of the only in the country to be privately run by the union.

Retails outlets include a small clothes shop, a gift shop, and a shop selling Leeds University merchandise.

Within the union is also a hairdressers, opticians, smoothie bar, game room, 'Wrappid' and Cornish Pastie takeaways.

Joblink advertises job vacancies in the city and has free-use computers.

Union Venues

The Old Bar

The Old Bar is in the style of a traditional English pub and has a food servery (run by the University catering services). The Old Bar hosts a variety of evenings such as live bands, pub quizzes, and big screen football. The Monday-Friday daily "Aussie Hour [sic]" features Neighbours followed by Home and Away on the big television screens between 17:35 - 18:30.

In 2004, controversially, a smoking ban was enacted in the Old Bar. Profits fell so much that the ban had to be lifted. The Old Bar was then divided into smoking and non-smoking sections but is now entirely non-smoking; in line with the national smoking ban.

The Terrace

The Terrace has been styled as a trendy 'chill-out' bar, serving alcohol and hot drinks. The bar has sofas, pool tables and a large outdoor seating area. It is sometimes used as a nightclub venue alongside Stylus.

Stylus

The BEDA award-winning nightclub Stylus is home to the "Fruity" club nights on Fridays, plus other events such as "The Wendy House" and "School Disco". Stylus has a capacity of 1000 when used on its own.

Pulse (formerly known as Bar Coda)

Pulse is a 350 capacity venue situated adjacent to Stylus. It is used for a variety of activities both in the daytime and evening. Daytime activities are generally society-led, such as break-dancing or meetings, whilst evening activities usually involve having the bar open and the venue being used either on its own, or in conjunction with Stylus and Mine.

Mine

Mine (opened October 2005) is a re-development of the old Harvey Milk Bar, which closed in 2001 due to the opening of the (then) new extension of LUU, housing Stylus and Bar Coda. It is primarily targeted at postgraduate students, with a selection of 'trendy' food being served throughout the day. At night, the bar is transformed into a 450-capacity nightclub with both live music and DJ-based nights running on a regular basis. Current events include Rock of Ages, a monthly live rock night, The Blow Out, a live jazz night running fortnightly on Mondays, The Tunnel Club which is a showcase for up-and-coming local bands, and various society events which take place throughout the week.

In September 2006, Mine was successful in winning a BEDA award for the best Student Union venue of 2006.

Riley Smith Hall

LUU has its own theatre, the Riley Smith Hall. This venue has a capacity of 400 seated (including 100 on the balcony) and in late 2005 underwent a major refurbishment, the first for many years. This has provided a much-needed renovation of the three dressing rooms as well as construction of an internal box office and other storage. The Riley Smith Hall is used constantly throughout the year by LUU's many societies, most notably the performing societies who produce a number of shows varying from musicals to theatrical plays and dance performances.

The Riley Smith Hall is also the main venue for the Backstage society; the society is involved with the technical and stage management side for the majority of performance-related shows which take place in the hall.

The Refectory

The Refectory, whilst not strictly one of LUU's own venues, is the University's main canteen during the day, serving a range of hot and cold food. For evenings it is converted into one of Leeds's largest music venues, having a 2100 person capacity for live events.

Many famous bands have played at the University Refectory, including The Who (who recorded Live at Leeds there originally in 1970, and returned in June 2006 to recreate the original show), Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and more recently Muse (recorded and played on MTV), The Strokes, Bloc Party, Manic Street Preachers, K.T. Tunstall, Arctic Monkeys, The Coral and Paul Weller (comprehensive gig list available from the LUU site ).

Media

LUU boasts one of the country's most active university newspapers, Leeds Student. It is published weekly, on Fridays, during term time. Leeds Student was formed by the merger of the Leeds University Union newspaper (Union News) and the Leeds Metropolitan University Students Union newspaper, but in November 2005 the Leeds Met students voted to disaffiliate from Leeds Student citing under-representation as the reason. It is currently (for the year 2008-2009) edited by Laurie Whitwell.

Various other paper-based publications are produced, including The Document and The Gist, which provide up-to-date information on events and news about LUU. LUU also funds the production Lippy magazine, which is the Union's Women's magazine. Lippy is staffed entirely by students and produces a small number of issues each year.

LUU has a student radio station, LSRfm.com (or visit LSRfm.com), which frequently wins national student radio awards. LSRfm.com is widely active in LUU, hosting a number of LSRfm.com-associated events including The Blow Out (a monthly jazz night in Mine). Despite LSRfm.com not being successful in winning an FM licence for 2007, it retains LSRfm.com as its website and streams audio regularly through this. It also has a 'drive' show, between 4-6pm on weekdays, believed to be a first for an internet based radio station. The LSRfm.com coordinator for 2008-2009 was not an elected position but was appointed through an interview process, with the successful candidate being Dan Hudson

There is also an internal TV station, ls:tv, which broadcasts on televisions located around the Union building including in the Terrace, the Old Bar and in Game On. LS:TV broadcast live every Wednesday during term-time from their studio next to the Old Bar. Their weekly show includes The Essential (news), LSfix (entertainment) as well as drama, comedy, factual and documentaries. LS:TV have been successful in winning awards through the student TV association NaSTA winning 8 awards in 2007 including best broadcaster. LS:TV also recently won the award for most involved society at the annual Riley Awards. Selected programmes from LS:TV can be viewed online.

Student activities

LUU has a wide range of member-led activity groups available, ranging from gliding to real ale appreciation. As a result of the Student Activities Review in 2005 the terms club, society and incorporated body as categories were abandoned, so student activities could be reorganised. The new groups are known as Performing, Media, Martial Arts and Dance, Faith and Culture, Political and Campaigning, General Interest, Sport, Departmental, Volunteering and Outdoor. Out of the five former incorporated bodies, RAG, Nightline and Action will now come under the volunteering banner and Leeds Student and LSRfm.com will fall under the media banner. Ordinary, life and honorary life members of LUU can join and participate in these activities.

A full list of student activities can be found on the LUU main website (see External links).

The Review

In 2005, Leeds University Union carried out a major review of its facilities ('The Review'), through discussion groups with members, in order to ascertain the current needs of members and propose changes for the future. In November 2005, the outcome of the Review was put to a ballot for acceptance by members, and was successful in being accepted. There was some criticism of the Review as the ballot gave members the option to either accept all the proposed changes or reject all the changes, with no option in between.

Following the Review, LUU drew up a three-page plan to outline the plans based on this for the three years from 2006-2009. A number of changes have been carried out already in 2006 - mainly to the structure and layout of the building (the relocation of some retail units, and a refurbishment of Stylus and Pulse).

Running of the Union

Leeds University Union is run by a group of six elected student executive officers. Each officer covers one of the following areas :- Communications and internal affairs, Education, Activities, Welfare, Equality and diversity and Community.

The foundation ideology of the union is that the students of the University of Leeds have control of the union. This works by using an inverted pyramid of power - the members of the union (students) at the top, then the Union Council, the Student Executive Committee, then the Union Managers, then the staff at the bottom.

Leeds University Union also allows non-members to use its facilities, however on an evening members must show their union card to at least one member of the two door staff. Both door staff have the requisite accreditation from the Security Industry Authority, and as such, have undertaken at least 30 hours of training.

The Student Executive

The Executive Committee is a team of elected students who work full-time to oversee the Union on a day-to-day basis. They help and represent LUU’s members. The Executive liaises regularly with Roger Gair, the University Secretary.

Executive officers operate in two capacities:

  • As a representative of University of Leeds students, campaigning for change on their behalf.
  • A trustee of LUU, taking holistic accountability for the well being of the organisation, which is accompanied by significant legal responsibility.

Current Student Executive Team

  • Activities Officer - Jessica Parker
  • Communications and Internal Affairs - Laura McFarlane-Shopes
  • Community Officer - Rob Damiao
  • Equality and Diversity Officer - Maryam Ahmad
  • Education Officer - Danny Adilypour
  • Welfare Officer - Suzy Tobias

All the officers are paid just under £15,000 p.a. plus various perks, including free entrance to all conferences, and musical events held within the union and attached Refectory.

Student Executive Restructure

As a result of March 2006 referendum the executive was mandated to consider its structure, with the aim of drafting a structure that better reflects the responsibility of an executive officer and the changing needs of the membership. The current executive team presented proposals to enhance student representation through reform the structure of the student executive team.

The proposals passed at November referendum sees the student executive team restructured ino the following:

Activity Officer

  • Oversees LUU Activities agenda
  • National representation of LUU sports at BUSA
  • Supports Activities Executive
  • Representation of LUU Activities within the University

Communications and Internal affairs Officer

  • Union spokesperson
  • Responsible for ensuring Union policy is enacted
  • Leads on organisational issues including finance and staffing.
  • Oversees Unions democratic processes
  • Chairs relevant committees
  • Liaises with senior staff member to ensure the effective running of the Union.
  • Sits on relevant University Committees

Community Officer

  • Oversees student issues related to external community factors, such as:
  • Safety
  • Housing
  • Crime
  • Community links - Perception of students in the community
  • Liaison with local Councillors/local community groups/City & Regional
  • Pick up campaigns arising from Student Advice Centre

Education Officer

  • Liaises with Union Academic Representative and Course reps
  • Leads local & national education campaigns
  • Sits on relevant University committees e.g. Learning and Teaching board, University Council.

Equality and Diversity Officer

  • Ensures LUU represents and addresses the needs of the diverse membership
  • Oversees Liberation Agenda
  • Supports Liberation Convenors
  • Oversees International Student issues
  • Chairs Interfaith forum
  • Supports the Student cultural and religious representative.
  • Sits on equality and diversity committee and works with equality and diversity team at the University.

Welfare Officer

  • Oversees general health, student mental health, drugs/alcohol, debt and sexual health issues.
  • Ensures there is adequate student support
  • Oversees University accommodation issues
  • Liaison with University re pastoral services
  • Oversees campaigns arising from Student Advice Centre

Jack Straw

Jack Straw, former Foreign Secretary, was famously President of Leeds University Union in 1967-68. Whilst President, Straw played a role in leading a student sit-in in June 1968. In 2000, a motion was passed at the LUU Annual General Meeting strongly criticisng Straw, the then Home Secretary, for his part in the Asylum and Immigration Bill, the attempted removal of trial by jury (for some defendants) and legal aid in many cases, the anti-terrorism bill, the curfew on teenagers, mandatory drug testing for criminal suspects, and his attitude towards cannabis and tuition fees. Simon Rothstein, who proposed the motion, noted that the organisations that have condemned Straw included the Bar Council. He also pointed out that Mrs Thatcher had said, "I trust Jack Straw. He is a very fair man." The motion revoked Jack Straw's life membership of the union, banned him from the union building and called on the university to withdraw Straw's honorary degree.

In September 2007, the Communications and Internal Affairs Officer, Neil Mackenzie, put forward a motion to reinstate Jack Straw's name on the Presidents' Board in the Old Bar, but this fell at Union Council. In November 2007, a motion was put to a referendum of the entire student body over whether to reinstate Jack Straw's membership of the union and have his name returned to the Presidents' Board. The motion passed by 1,175 votes to 423, meaning Jack Straw's life membership will soon be reinstated and his name returned to the board of former Presidents.

LUU Referenda

In 2005/6 academic year LUU decided to replace the traditional decision making process of Annual General Meetings (AGMs) with 2 ordinary referenda per academic year. The change included the replacement of the AGM with a debate meeting that would not include voting but would be followed by a period of voting which would not require the voter to attend the debate meeting. For any motion to become a binding policy for the Student Union Council it needs to receive a minimum of 1500 votes (with or against it).

February 2008

18 motions were submitted to be discussed at an open Union Council meeting:-
# Motions Summary Outcome
1 "Lobby for Activities Groups to have Access to the Refectory" Lobby the University to allow the Union's activities groups use of the refectory. To be discussed at UC (Motion 3)
2 "Affiliation to Stop the War"   Steering Committee Rejected (Late)
3 "Should this Union support a re-evaluation of the decision to close Bodington Hall?"   To be discussed at UC (Motion 4)
4 "End the Siege in Gaza"   Steering Committee Rejected (Late)
5 "Don't renew the LUU No Platform policy" Replace the policy of No Platform with allowing all groups onto campus for debate and guest lectures, but explicitly not allow the recruitment of members from previously banned groups. To be discussed at UC (Motion 2)
6 "Should LUU lobby the University for home fees to apply to refugees? Lobby the University to allow all refugees and asylum seekers to be charged at the home fees rate, rather than the international rate. To be discussed at UC (Motion 8)
7 "ID Cards"   To be discussed at UC (Motion 6)
8 "Lads Mags behind the counter" Place all 'Lads Mags' behind the counter citing as perpetuating gender discrimination. To be discussed at UC (Motion 11)
9 "Mature Students Room"   Steering Committee Rejected (Late)
10 "No Platform Policy" Renew the No Platform policy and extend it to forbid Fascist students from playing an active part in Union life. Steering Committee Rejected (Late)
11 "Oppose the NUS Governance Review"   To be discussed at UC (Motion 10)
12 "Stop the Royal Bank of Scotland/Natwest funding climate change"   To be discussed at UC (Motion 5)
13 "Should our university accept from military companies and carry out their research?"   To be discussed at UC (Motion 7)
14 "Should the Union Support the respect for the basic liberties of its members"   Steering Committee Rejected (Late)
15 "Should Landlords Be Held To Account?"   Steering Committee Rejected (Already Policy)
16 "Should LUU reduce noise levels from music and plasma screens The Old Bar" Reduce noise levels from music and encourage the sound from plasma screens to be turned off whenever possible. To be discussed at UC (Motion 1)
17 "Stopping the sale of cigarettes" Permanently stop the sale of cigarettes Steering Committee Rejected (Financially Damaging)
18 "More support for working students"   To be discussed at UC (Motion 9)

November 2007

Five motions were submitted to be discussed at an open Union Council meeting and the ones which passed this stage were put to Referendum, with the motion numbers changed.
# Motions Summary Outcome
1 "Should the Union shop increase the range of 99p sandwiches which is currently in decline?" Increase the range of 99p sandwiches in the Union shop citing financial pressures on students as the motivation. Passed as Motion 3
2 "Increasing Representation at Leeds University Union" Re-introduce General Meetings and ensure that only issues which directly affect students are put out to referenda. Fell at Union Council
3 "Should Jack Straw's name and membership to Leeds University Union be reinstated?" Reinstate Jack Straw's honorary life membership of LUU and restore his name to the Presidents Board in the Old Bar Passed as Motion 2
4 "Nestlé Boycott" Continue the ban of Nestlé products in the Union citing only minor human rights improvement on Nestlé's part as the reason Passed as Motion 4
5 "Paper Bags, Not Plastic" Replace plastic bags with paper bags in the union shops citing environmental reasons. Passed as Motion 1

February 2007

November 2006

In November 2006 the first LUU referendum was implemented. Debate upon the motions was vigorous and complex, as the meeting's audio recordings and summary minutes suggest. All 5 motions were passed:

Motions Yes No Total
Motion 1 "The Executive Restructure" 1421 368 1789
Motion 2 "Palestinian Students’ Right to Education" 1433 1020 2453
Motion 3 "Leeds Student" 1478 292 1770
Motion 4 "Action" 1625 394 2019
Motion 5 "LUU Policy towards PSG and Other Politically Active Societies" 1421 895 2316

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