Everyone is tired, quite a few are hungover…okay most of them are, but the second day of Congress began at 9am, and it was straight into Welfare motions. This session always sees a lot of passionate speakers because many of these motions are often sensitive in nature. Speakers often give powerful speeches about personal stories.
WEL 19 – 7, a motion to run a campaign around excessive alcohol consumption in secondary and third level education:
One of our own delegates, Fionn Collins spoke very bravely about personal experiences with alcohol and how it can be very dangerous. People often don’t look twice when you drink too much because most people often don’t even pay attention to how much they are drinking. It was urged that the current attitudes around drinking need to be changed. “People shouldn’t go through pain and suffering to know it’s okay to not be okay.”
WEL 19 – 12, a motion to provide staff training around how to deal with mental health and identity issues:
This motion gathered a lot of attention and interesting discussion. Those who proposed the motion, and were also for it, felt that it is a very basic service that all staff should be equiped with as most staff are already dealing with students coming to them with these kinds of issues. It might be possible that staff could be provided with a document that could simply outline how to tackle such situations and it would not even have to be mandatory. However those on the opposing side couldn’t help but feel like staff are already overstretched on what is expected of them. One speaker said that there’s an overreliance for staff to give pastoral care, and these are also most often female staff as well. Staff are not adequeately resourced and instead, the attention should look towards different systems. Instead, the student and support services that already exist should be imporved, rather than expect even more from staff. In the end, this motion fell.
WEL 19 – 13, a motion to focus on men’s mental health:
Perhaps the most key motion was this one, on men’s mental health. It featured very emotional and difficult stories around individual who had lost their lives due to poor mental health and the lack of services around it, as well as the heavy stigma that still exists with men’s mental health. It’s safe to say that nobody could be against this motion, you’d be heartless to be so. Many of the speakers in favor urged that there needs to be a shift, with a year-round campaign on men’s mental health. It would be the only way for attention around it to kick in. Mental health is extremely important and not limited to just one gender. Sutdents need to be educated and know that they can go out and seek help if they need it. One speaker also highlighted that the problem often isn’t that men don’t talk but that they aren’t listened to when they do.
In other news, I suppose you could call Congress Day 2 the ‘Day of 9As’. If you aren’t familiar with procedural motions, a 9A means that someone has called to cease the debate and proceed straight to a vote on the motion in question. There were plenty…plenty of 9As but you can’t really blame people as there were a lot more motions to get through than session times allowed. However it did also mean that lots of motions did not go on to be debated for very long or very well.
At one point in the day, all delegates got rather distracted by the fact that it had started snowing outside. Big fluffy flakes or snow fell and honestly, who can blame them for getting distracted? It was the 2nd day of April…
In the evening, some drama ensued. A motion proposed by DITSU was superseeded by a motion added by USI Officer board. If that motion was to pass, it would contradict DITSU’s motion and therefore, would not even be up for discussion. It was felt that this halted the ability to be able to have an important and healthy debate around the idea of affiliation caps for Member Organizations in USI. A very heavy debate commenced around the idea of having a strategic review of USI’s finances, with many arguing that such a motion was passed years ago and the review had still not been done. Others urged that it was important to vote against the motion so that the motion around affiliation fees could be discussed.
In the end, as many delegates did not feel that they were being listened to or even taken seriously, two MOs walked out.
An official statement around this *may* come on Twitter at some stage, but this is not for certain yet.