Budget and Constitutional Amendments June 2016

This page summarises details of votes on the MCR Budget and three Constitutional amendments. The vote on the Budget requires a majority of 10 % of the MCR (so 31 people must vote, 16 must approve it for it to pass). The Constitutional amendments require a 2/3 majority of 20 % of the MCR (so 62 people must vote, 42 people must approve an amendment for it to pass).

1. Budget

The MCR Budget has to be formally passed. The Budget is available  here.

2. Change to the Constitution regarding Women’s Officer

Currently section 10.1 is the rather formidable “only a Woman may be a Women’s Officer”. It was proposed this is amended to “only a self-defining woman may be a Women’s Officer”.

3. Change to the Constitution regarding PDRA Representative.

As discussed in previous meetings, College believes the position of the post-doctoral representative (hereafter PDRA rep) needs to be formalised. Currently there is no formal voting procedure for the election of the PDRA rep, and indeed the place of postdocs in College is a little opaque. They are full members of the MCR, but this sometimes isn’t made clear. They have representation on College committees, but the nature of choosing that representative is very unclear; sometimes they are just appointed.

The MCR exec would like to formalise the position of PDRAs within the MCR with the creation of a PDRA Representative position. This would be a full voting position on the MCR Committee; they would be elected by the whole MCR, but only a PDRA could stand for the role. In contrast to other Committee roles, only a single person could hold the position at any one time; however, the elected PDRA rep could appoint a deputy, who could attend meetings on their behalf, and who would take their role if the standing PDRA Rep leaves, without the necessity for another election. This is intended as a balance between preventing the already-large MCR Committee from growing even larger, and coping with the issue that PDRAs often leave at quite short notice outside the standard Cambridge term cycle, which can leave the PDRAs without representation.

The role of PDRA rep has been discussed at previous Open Meetings. For those unfortunate enough not to be able to attend them, here is a brief and hopefully reasonably unbiased outline of why the Exec believes the PDRA Rep should be a full Committee position, the main arguments against, and the Exec’s answers to them.
The community of PDRAs in Trinity Hall is unusually large, and only going to grow. We therefore have the opportunity to provide a model to theUniversity of how PDRAs can be integrated in College life. The creation of a PDRA Rep rolewould make it clear that PDRAs are full members of theMCR, and provide a democratic method of choosing their representative. While PDRAs are not a historically marginalised minority, they often are rather left out of College life, and it was felt they
should have a voice.

Against, it was argued that other MCR members do not have their own particular representative, e.g. there is no MPhil rep, PhD rep etc. The Exec responded that while this is a good argument, a large majority of MCR Committee members are MPhils, PhDs etc., so they are already well-represented. In addition, MPhils, PhDs and fourth year undergrads share similar conditions, e.g. the majority live in College accommodation, keep standard University terms, etc., while PDRAs often face different issues with College, andmay not have anyone on the Committee to represent them. TheMCR Committee is already rather large and unwieldy, so we do not want more Committee positions. Again, this is true, and is the reason the PDRA rep position will be limited to only one person.

Text of the proposed amendment is as follows. Non-italicised text in [square brackets] explains the context of the
change, but wouldn’t go into the Constitution.

[Abbreviation to avoid having to write “postdoctoral research associate” 25 times] 1.5(iii) post-doctoral research associates, hereafter PDRAs.
[Addition of a new role to the Committee] 3.7(m) PDRA Representative
[How many people can stand as PDRA Rep] 3.8 . . . except that Executive positions and the PDRA representative position may not be shared.
[Role of the PDRA Rep] 3.12(m) PDRA Representative
(i) To represent the MCR to University-wide post-doctoral research staff networks.
(ii) To provide information and guidance to new PDRAs.
(iii) To provide a point of contact for PDRAs within the MCR.
(iv) To organise events utilising the skills of the PDRAs within the MCR, for example workshops on thesis writing or
discussions on obtaining PDRA funding.
(v) To represent the concerns of the PDRAs to College.
(vi) To appoint a deputy (who must also be a PDRA), who may replace the elected PDRA representative at Committee Meetings and vote on their behalf if the elected PDRA representative is absent. In the event that the PDRA Representative resigns from the MCR Committee, for example because they are leaving Cambridge, their deputy will be appointed the new Representative without recourse to the usual election process and will assume all their duties.
[Limitations on who can stand as PDRA Rep] 10.1 . . . only a self-defining woman may be a Women’s Officer, and only a
PDRA may be the PDRA representative.

4. Change to the Constitution regarding Charities Representative.

As discussed in previous Open Meetings, Pauline Kiesow has proposed that the role of Charities Rep be open to anyone in the MCR, not just Committee members. It was generally felt that this was a good idea, and would likely lead to the role being held by someone committed to charitable acts, rather than just a Committee member who was forced to do it. An amendment to the Constitution will be required for this. The proposed amendment would make appointment of the Charities Rep at the discretion of the President, who should seek volunteers from the MCR. If there are multiple volunteers they would be encouraged to work together; the role will not be an elected one, nor would the incumbent be able to vote at Committee meetings.. The text of the amendment is below.
Section 3.13 replaced with: The President will appoint volunteers from the MCR to act as Committee Representatives.
These representatives are not eligible to vote in MCR Committee meetings, but are tasked with organising MCR activities
such as charitable fundraising. There is no election procedure for such representatives; in the event that multiple volunteers
present themselves, they are encouraged to work together.