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Oxford University Gazette, 1 November 2007: University Agenda

Voting on Resolution

¶ Members of Congregation are reminded that written notice of any intention to vote against, or any proposed amendment to, the resolution below, signed by at least two members of Congregation, must be given to the Registrar by noon on Monday, 19 November (see the note on the conduct of business in Congregation at the end of `University Agenda').

Text of Resolution

Congregation instructs Council to publish by the end of the third week of Trinity Term 2008 proposals for its consideration, to provide for:

1. a limit on the period of service of external members of Council;

2. the use of a postal vote rather than a Congregation debate when the nomination of an external has been opposed;

3. a requirement that Congregation Debates and Discussions be held in Full Term;

4. an increase of the minimum time allowed for return of postal ballot papers;

5. the use of confidential ballots in any vote in Congregation if requested by members of Congregation before the meeting;

6. an assurance of the confidentiality of ballots used in Congregation elections and postal votes;

and to consider providing a procedure whereby a final vote may be taken on an amended legislative proposal at the same meeting at which an amendment has been carried.

Explanatory note

Events of the last academic year have revealed significant problems with the existing procedures for conducting Congregation business. We welcome the recent announcement that Council has decided to establish a Nominations Committee to make recommendations for the nomination of future external members of Council. However there are several other issues which remain to be addressed. It is all too easy to forget these as a new year starts, but if the procedures are not corrected, the problems will recur.

The procedures of Congregation are crucial to its ability to exercise its sovereign powers. However the Statutes do not provide for Congregation itself to propose new legislation. It has no mechanism for ensuring that all the detailed aspects have been properly considered. Accordingly this Resolution indicates the desired direction and asks Council to propose appropriate legislation. It asks Council to publish its proposals by the third week Gazette of Trinity Term at the latest, which would allow legislative proposals to be considered in the sixth week meeting of Congregation.

The resolution lists several areas to be addressed; we describe our thinking about each below. The first two concern the appointment of external members of Council:

1. A limit should be placed on the length of service of external members of Council to ensure truly external viewpoints. The basic limit should be two terms of four years, with an appropriate arrangement for the handling of partial terms resulting from the filling of unanticipated vacancies.

2. In a case where the nomination of an external has been proposed to Congregation and opposition has been notified, a public debate in Congregation is not an appropriate procedure. It would be better to proceed directly to a postal vote.

The remaining points are other aspects of procedures in Congregation that have caused concern in the past year (the section numbers refer to Regulations of Congregation for the Conduct of Business in Congregation,

3. A Congregation Debate or Discussion should not be held outside of Full Term (§ 1.2). In order to avoid impeding non-controversial business, the tenth week meeting of Congregation can remain; however if opposition to an item of business for that meeting is notified, the debate should be postponed to a meeting in Full Term.

4. The minimum period allowed for the return of postal ballots is currently four days (§ 4.9). This is too short given the times required for round-trip messenger service to some parts of the University. A postal ballot outside of Full Term should be avoided if possible, but if it is judged to be necessary, a significantly longer time should be allowed.

5. Starting with the May 2005 Debate, voting papers have been used in votes in Congregation instead of the earlier practice of public votes. The opportunity this new procedure gives for confidential voting in very controversial issues is welcomed. It should be put into the Regulations along with assurance that the ballots will be handled confidentially in the care of the Proctors. The Proctors should be given the responsibility for deciding on the validity of any vote which is in doubt (§ 4.9). However, in less controversial issues, reversion to public votes would expedite proceedings. Public votes could be the default, replaced by the confidential procedure if requested by members of Congregation before the meeting.

6. Similar assurance of confidentiality should be given in the legislation for postal votes and elections (§ 8.2).

We also ask Council to reflect on the problems with the current procedure for legislative proposals that if an amendment is approved, consideration of the amended proposal must be at a second meeting (§ 2.10). This is sensible in a complicated case, but the prospect causing a second meeting could be an undesirable barrier to approving a simple amendment. A solution could be to allow the Proctors to recommend in the Gazette preceding the meeting that the requirement of a second meeting be waived, with the waiver then deemed approved unless two members of Congregation request in the meeting that a vote be taken (cf. § 1.9(3)).

It should be possible to address all of these points in Regulations, not needing to make changes in the Statutes. For example, although the four-year term of Council membership is defined in Statute VI, continued membership beyond retirement is restricted by Council Regulations 14 of 2002 (; a similar restriction on the number of terms could be made there.

Proposed by:

R. Briggs, All Souls College

M.H. Robson, Lady Margaret Hall

J. Alexander, Linacre College

W. Allison, Keble College

D.G. Andrews, Lady Margaret Hall

I.W. Archer, Keble College

P. Azzopardi, Worcester College

P.E.G. Baird, University College

G. Barr, Physics

L.M. Bendall, Keble College

M. Bent, All Souls College

P. Biggin, Lady Margaret Hall

W.J. Blair, Queen's College

A. Blakeborough, Worcester College

S. Blamey, St Edmund Hall

R. Boden, Keble College

A.M. Bowie, Queen's College

J.D. Bradshaw, Worcester College

G. Brown, Lady Margaret Hall

M. Burden, New College

C. Burrow, All Souls College

D.V. Came, Worcester College

P.J. Clarke, Jesus College

F. Close, Physics

G.A. Cohen, All Souls College

R.H. Collier, Balliol College

S. Collins, University College

A. Cooper-Sarkar, St Edmund Hall

N.S. Davidson, St Edmund Hall

N. Delerue, Physics

K.L. Dorrington, University College

G. Doucas, Physics

J. Drury, All Souls College

E.M. Dutton, Worcester College

R.M. Fernandez, Worcester College

P. Finglass, All Souls College

E.V. Flynn, New College

J. Fopma, Physics

B. Foster, Physics

P.G. Fowler, Worcester College

M.J.O. Francis, Wolfson College

D.G. Fraser, Worcester College

D.J. Galligan, Wolfson College

S. Gardner, Lincoln College

E.J. Garnett, Wadham College

R.N. Gildea, Worcester College

L. Goldman, St Peter's College

M. Goldsmith, Worcester College

G. Goodwin-Gill, All Souls College

J. Grabowski, Keble College

P.D. Gronbech, Physics

B. H„cker, All Souls College

R. Hanna, Keble College

E. Harcourt, Keble College

P.T. Harries, Queen's College

R. Harris, New College

M. Hawcroft, Keble College

E. Herdman, Worcester College

E. Higginbottom, New College

T. Hoad, St Peter's College

R.G. Hood, All Souls College

H. Hotson, St Anne's College

L. Hoyano, Wadham College

B.T. Huffmann, Lady Margaret Hall

J. Humphries, All Souls College

S.V. Hunt, Keble College

E.L. Hussey, All Souls College

L. Irving-Bell, Queen's College

D. Jaksch, Keble College

J.L. Johnson, Exeter College

G. Jones, Wolfson College

H. Jones, Physics

M. Kerr, St Hugh's College

D. Kimel, New College

R.W. Knight, Worcester College

M.L. Kringelbach, Queen's College

R.J. Lane Fox, New College

W.W. Lau, Physics

B. Leftow, Oriel College

J.B. Lewis, Wolfson College

H. Leyser, St Peter's College

J.L. Lightfoot, New College

A.W. Lintott, Worcester College,

S. Lovibond, Worcester College

A.V. Lowe, All Souls College

A.D. Lunn, Worcester College

M. Lunn, St Hugh's College

J.B. Macallister, Physics

I.W.F. Maclean, All Souls College

C.M. MacRobert, Lady Margaret Hall

N. Malcolm, All Souls College

J. Malcomson, All Souls College

M. Martin, St Edmund Hall

M.H. Matthews, University College

D. Maw, Oriel College

T. Mawson, St Peter's College

I. McArthur, Physics

P. Millican, Hertford College

L.G. Mitchell, University College

G. Molyneaux, All Souls College

B. Morgan, Worcester College

T. Morgan, Oriel College

K. Morris, Mansfield College

A. Murray, University College

R.B. Nickerson, Physics

S.P. Oakes, St John's College

A. Offer, All Souls College

P.M. Oppenheimer, Christ Church

D. Palfreyman, New College

N.F. Palmer, St Edmund Hall

D.A. Parfit, All Souls College

R.C.T. Parker, New College

D.A. Parrott, New College

A. Pasternak Slater, St Anne's College

S. Payne, Keble College

G. Peele, Lady Margaret Hall

J. Perkins, All Souls College

A. Phelan, Keble College

M. Philpott, Keble College

P. Podsiadlowski, St Edmund Hall

H. Pogge von Strandmann, University College

W. Poole, New College

T. Powell, New College

S.R.F. Price, Lady Margaret Hall

P. Probert, Wolfson College

N. Purcell, St John's College

J.C. Quinn, Worcester College

R.G. Ratcliffe, New College

A. Reichold, Balliol College

G. Reinert, Keble College

G. Rodriguez-Pereyra, Oriel College

A.G. Rosser, St Catherine's College

J. Rutherford, Queen's College

A. Ryan, New College

A. Sanderson, All Souls College

J.S. Scullion, Worcester College

M.P. Searle, Worcester College

D. Segal, All Souls College

G. Segal, All Souls College

N. Shrimpton, Lady Margaret Hall

A.J.B. Sirks, All Souls College

E.J. Smith, Hertford College

P.J.M. Southwell, Queen's College

E.A. Southworth, St Peter's College

M.F. Spensley, Lady Margaret Hall

J.M. Spivey, Oriel College

M. Teper, All Souls College

A.L.R. Thomas, Lady Margaret Hall

K.V. Thomas, All Souls College

J. Tseng, St Edmund Hall

K. Tunstall, Worcester College

R.H.S. Tur, Oriel College

C.J. Tyerman, Hertford College

G. Viehhauser, Physics

G. Vincent-Smith, Oriel College

A. Wathen, New College

A. Weber, Physics

C. Webster, All Souls College

R. Wedgwood, Merton College

A.R. Weidberg, Physics

J. Wells, Brasenose College

N. West, Physics

M. Whittow, St Peter's College

C. Wickham, All Souls College

D. Wiggins, New College

J. Wilk, St Edmund Hall

A. Wilkinson, All Souls College

C.W.C. Williams, St Edmund Hall

G. Williams, St Peter's College

S.G. Williams, Worcester College

E.P. Wilson, Worcester College

S.Q. Yang, Physics

B. Young, Christ Church

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