Joshua Smith & Lexie Massie
Friday 12th of April 2019
This is an update on the proposed new SSAGO Constitution following the full membership consultation that took place.
A massive thank you to everyone who took part in the full membership consultation on the proposed constitution changes. We have now used all of your feedback and proposed amendments to update the Articles of Association and Bylaws to create a draft.
Several updates were made to the Advisory Committee to emphasise that apart from in exceptional emergency circumstances (i.e. the entire SSAGO Exec dies/resigns or SSAGO ceases to exist) they are purely advisory and do not make any decisions. It is up to the student membership of SSAGO to shape and determine its own future.
The Complaints Process has been updated slightly so that in the event of a complaint being made about the entire SSAGO Exec the process will be followed by the Advisory Committee. Once that process was complete the Advisory Committee would feedback to the Full Committee (Reps) and advise them on how best to proceed. The Full Committee then would ultimately decide if and what disciplinary action should be taken.
Any appeal through the Complaints Process now also would go to the Full Committee (Reps).
As requested, a spreadsheet comparing the key changes between the old and proposed new changes has also been created.
You’ve been provided 6 weeks to suggest any alterations the proposed changes. If you have any final final bits of feedback on the the final versions please do not hesitate to contact us by 5pm Monday. We then plan to hold a full members vote to approve the changes from Wednesday. Voting will remain open for two week.
What happens about bullying and manipulating behaviour?
Bullying and manipulation would be dealt with as outlined in the Complaints Process Bylaw and Members Code of Conduct.
No repercussions if conflicts go un-declared and are later identified?
If a conflict of interest was to go undeclared and later be identified it should be dealt with through Complaints Process Bylaw. Depending on the severity of the conflict members may alternatively trigger a vote of no confidence as outlined in the SSAGO Executive Officers Bylaw.
Should a time limit be set for being on the Advisory Committee?
The member of the old SSAGO Exec who sits on the Advisory Committee is replaced every year as a new SSAGO Exec takes over. Representatives of Scouting, Guiding and SAGGA are selected by their respective organisations and may change as appropriate depending on the issue that comes up.
I think that ssago exec should be able to claim that an Advisory Committee member has a conflict of interest as.
This is covered in the conflict of interest part of the Advisory Committee Bylaw. Where a member has has a conflict their respective organisation may be instructed to send a suitable replacement.
The whole Advisory Committee takes away almost all power from Exec.
The Advisory Committee is intended to support the SSAGO Exec with advice and only make decisions in emergency circumstances where the SSAGO Exec cannot. These are situations such as when a complaint is levied against the entire SSAGO Exec or there ceases to be a SSAGO Exec able to make decisions (e.g. they are removed by vote of no confidence or all/mostly die).
This Bylaw has been updated to make clear that this is emergency circumstances only. Where the Advisory Committee are involved in a the Complaints Process this has been updated to emphasise that they advise the SSAGO Exec how to proceed, or in if the complaint is about the SSAGO Exec they advise the Full Committee (Reps) how to proceed.
I think that the Advisory Committee have the potential to have too much power and control over Reps and the Exec. Several of the policies give the Advisory Committee the final say on matters, and people who are not currently students should not be given this right. It is the Student Scout and Guide Organisation and with the Advisory Committee (consisting of potentially only 1 student member) having more control than the Exec, this isn’t right.
The Advisory Committee is only meant to have emergency powers if there is no SSAGO Exec (e.g. they are removed by vote of no confidence or all/mostly die). The relevant Bylaws have been updated emphasise this more clearly. The Complaints Process has been updated so that the SSAGO Advisory Committee either advise the SSAGO Exec or Full Committee (Reps) how to proceed, ultimately leaving the decision with SSAGO’s members.
The SSAGO Full Committee (i.e. Reps) is be the ultimate decision-making body of SSAGO. The Advisory Committee should be able to advise on matters, but decisions should be brought before the full committee for ratification. We'd like this to not end up being a shadowy body above the exec. with the ability to make decisions that clubs/the membership cannot input into, or ultimately reject.
In the current SSAGO Constitution the Full Committee (Reps) has no say in constitutional changes to SSAGO and may have any changes to Policy Documents it makes rejected by The Scouts or Girlguiding. Where the constitution is split into Articles of Association and Bylaws the Full Committee (Reps) now has to approve all Bylaw changes. It may also amend, create and remove Policy Documents without the approval of The Scouts or Girlguiding.
One area of concern is the role of the full committee to only "Jointly amend Bylaws" with the advisory committee - this puts the vote of all clubs (and by extension the full membership) on par with the three votes needed for the Advisory Committee to make a decision (does the current Exec member's vote in this committee count at this stage?), largely stripping clubs of the ability to effect change if the Advisory Committee disagrees - if this is not the intention then it needs some rewording - the advisory committee should not be above the full committee.
The current SSAGO Constitution requires approval from The Scouts and Girlguiding to make any constitutional changes. As the responsibilities of Scouting, Guiding and SAGGA have now been grouped together in the Advisory Committee this responsibility now falls with them. The constitutional restructure splits our current constitution into Articles of Association and Bylaws, so having any Bylaw changes approved by the Advisory Committee is a continuation of that policy. It has been updated from ‘jointly amend’ to ‘approve’.
As with the current constitutional policy, it’s expected that were a change to be rejected it would be for a very good reason. This would allow SSAGO to reconsider the proposed changes and amend if appropriate. Were either Scouting, Guiding and SAGGA to become unnecessarily obstructive to SSAGO and frustrate the process of updating our constitution we would have to as an organisation reconsider our fundamental relationship with these organisations.
The SSAGO Advisory Committee must be invited to all General Meetings and shall act as independent adjudicators to all votes" - adjudicators only if there's a tied vote, or does this small select group have the ability to override the votes of clubs/full members?
This meant the Advisory Committee would oversee the votes to ensure they were carried out appropriately and not that they would have a vote themselves. In the event of a tie the meeting chair has the deciding vote. This section was repetition of the Returning Officer and teller responsibility and has now been removed .
How likely is getting all members in attendance (i.e. what is Scouting/Girlguiding's current track record of making meetings?) - if we don't get these then the input to the Advisory Committee is likely going to be just the current chair, previous chair, and maybe SAGGA?
The Scouts and Girlguiding over the past couple of years have always met with SSAGO together, and have requested more joint meetings as part of the Memorandum of Agreement to strengthen our future relationship. This is a continuation of that. Quoracy is deliberately three so if required the SSAGO Exec, SAGGA and old Exec representative could appoint a Returning Officer for the AGM and auditor for the accounts.
It sounds like somebody needs to look up the definition of the word "advisory", as this all sounds like a bit of a power grab really.
The Advisory Committee would only have ‘control’ of SSAGO in emergency circumstances were there to be no SSAGO Exec or in the event SSAGO ceased to exist. Wording in the Bylaws has been updated to emphasise this more strongly that outside of this emergency circumstances their role is solely to support and advise SSAGO.
Such a recent past Exec member is unlikely to be impartial on matters, whether they are in favour or not.
A member of the previous SSAGO Exec sits on the Advisory Committee to ensure continuity between SSAGO Execs and advise on recent decisions or issues. Conflict of interest is covered in the SSAGO Meetings and SSAGO Advisory Committee Bylaws. Were a member to be conflicted on an issue in first instance an alternative member from the previous SSAGO Exec would be attempted to be found. If that were not possible they would have no say on that issue.
Almost half of the Advisory Committee could potentially be involved in the things they are advising on, which isn't right. The committee as a whole also reviewed this and came to similar results. They felt that as it is, it has too many potential places for conflicts of interests, and people abusing the system in the future. We considered several fixes, but all were major changes beyond the scope of this comment.
Conflict of interest is covered in the SSAGO Meetings and SSAGO Advisory Committee Bylaws. Were an old or current SSAGO Exec member to be conflicted on an issue in first instance an alternative member from the their respective SSAGO Exec would be attempted to be found. If that were not possible they would have no say on that issue. They would only be allowed to contribute to parts of the discussion if deemed appropriate by the remaining members.
With the old and current SSAGO Exec members removed enough members of the Advisory Committee would be left for it to reach quorum. If the entire SSAGO Exec were conflicted that would suggest the complaint being dealt with is about the SSAGO Exec and that the Advisory Committee would be advising the Full Committee (Reps) how to proceed with that complaint.
If we deem the Exec not be following these, would the Advisory Committee step in?
The Complaints Process would be followed. This has been updated so that were the complaint about the whole SSAGO Exec it would be dealt with by the Advisory Committee who would advise the Full Committee (Reps) on how to proceed.
Potentially situations where this may come into conflict with SU policies for clubs? (e.g. if SSAGO removes national membership, but under our SU rules we cannot remove an individual's club membership, we may still need to let them be part of the club but also not a national member?)
As happens currently their national membership to SSAGO would cease. Depending on the severity of why they were removed it may be appropriate for their students’ union to be informed who may start their own disciplinary processes.
Would putting a time frame for addressing complaints be worth it? Different complaints may take different lengths of time to address however.
No time frame is set to ensure flexibility for all issues that could crop up.
Ensure there's a clear way to complain about an individual who could be on both Exec and Advisory Committee. I think this is best done through an online form where it shows you who will receive the email.
This is something that does not need including in the Bylaw but can be explored.
Gives undue power to the Advisory Committee rather than the Full Committee.
The Complaints Process has been updated so the Advisory Committee would advise the Full Committee on how to proceed with a serious complaint involving the SSAGO Exec. This gives the Full Committee the ultimate power to decide any appropriate action.
I wonder whether something about if other SSAGO clubs will hear about decisions made as a learning point (i.e. transparency or if will be confidential).
Most complaints will be confidential as is current practice to protect the privacy and welfare of the individuals involved. The SSAGO Exec can explore finding away to share learning points from this process. This process itself is developed from the learning points of the past few years of complaints that have been dealt with by the SSAGO Exec.
For the final version, a proper diff between old and new should be produced - there are a lot of changes to the structure of meetings and votes which seem to shift power away from the Full Committee which are hard to spot without going deep and comparing.
A spreadsheet comparing powers and responsibilities of different groups and meetings in the current constitution and new constitution is below.
Full Committee (Reps)
Full Committee (Reps)
The Scouts, Girlguiding, SAGGA
Commented on the document relating to meetings at Ball, allowing things like no confidence votes online (which should make things more democratic and easier if it's ever needed) etc.
No confidence votes have been updated so voting can take place at Ball and online, but only once both parties of the motion have been given equal chance to defend their position.
Make the Advisory Committee advisory and retain the Full Committee's overall power.
The Full Committee gains additional powers in the proposed changes to amend parts of SSAGO’s constitution. The Advisory Committee would only have ‘control’ of SSAGO in emergency circumstances were there to be no SSAGO Exec or in the event SSAGO ceased to exist. Wording in the Bylaws has been updated to emphasise this more strongly that outside of this emergency circumstances their role is solely to support and advise SSAGO.
Point 6.3.2 (in the Bylaws) seems to contradict an earlier point. It states that "Once called, a General Meeting must be at the next SSAGO Rally...", which appears to contradict 6.1.4 which says 2 weeks notice must be given for it to occur at a Rally. It appears that if you call a general meeting within the 2 week proceeding a rally that you have one rule saying you don't have enough time for notice and another saying that it must occur.
This has been corrected to say that an ‘EGM must occur within 8 weeks’ as the notice required to be given is already specified in 6.1.4.
We would like the Exec to review the numbering within the document and possibly the layout itself to allow it to be more accessible and easier to read for members.
The layout of the document follows standard practise for most charitable organisations and is similar to that used by students’ unions. It brings our governing documents in line with the requirements to register as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation with the Charity Commission. It presents all of the content of the existing SSAGO Constitution in a much more ordered way and removes conflicting points.
Something to remove the possibility of potential abuse of the system or conflict of interest.
Conflict of interest is covered in the SSAGO Meetings and SSAGO Advisory Committee Bylaws, and requires anyone with a conflict to not be involved in any decisions relating to that conflict. Any breach of this would be dealt with the Complaints Process and if required disciplinary measures.
Potentially the member of a past Exec having to be from at least 3-5 years ago, or only present as a non-voting member. We also felt there should be a maximum term of approximately a couple of years for this member.
The member of the previous SSAGO Exec only serves on the Advisory Committee for one year before the are replaced by an outgoing member of the next SSAGO Exec the following year. They are on the Advisory Committee to provide continuity between the two SSAGO Execs.
Have Honorary and Life memberships now been combined?
Honorary Membership and life membership are the same thing.
Are we no longer stating "at least level 4 education" as that was the case before or is that assumed in "further education"?
The wording is taken from the current constitution.
If an Exec member is no longer a student, however, count as a full member, do they pay associate or student rate?
They would be required to pay the Full Membership rate unless this was set differently.
Where has SAGGA Rep gone in the Assistant roles?
SAGGA Liaison has now been added to the Assistant roles.
This is the Student Scout and Guide Organisation, it shouldn't be possible for non/ex-Students to make decisions that cannot be rejected or amended by the actual Student membership of the organisation.
Students gain additional powers in the proposed changes and more control over their governing documents. Non-students would only have ‘control’ of SSAGO in emergency circumstances were there to be no SSAGO Exec (e.g. they are removed by vote of no confidence or all/mostly die) or in the event SSAGO ceased to exist. This is in line with SSAGO’s existing dissolution policies which have been updated to add emphasis on holding an EGM to elect a new SSAGO Exec or restarting SSAGO if it had ceased to exist.