The Oxford Union’s Returning Officer, Liam Frahm, has announced that he will rule tomorrow on whether the trial slate ban passed last year is invalid.
At the end of the Standing Committee meeting on Monday 4th February, Frahm told the committee that, as per Rule 73 of the society’s “Rules and Standing Orders”, the ban could be superseded, as the initial motion to introduce slates in 2015 was of a higher seniority than the slate ban.
In an internal email seen by Cherwell, Frahm informed the initial proponent of the ban, Union Chief of Staff Ray Williams of the following: “As I am sure you have heard, I made an announcement in TSC of the following:
“Last Friday, Brendan McGrath, the Librarian, made an official request of a Ruling regarding the validity of your Slates Ban Motion. The basis of this request regards Rule 73.”
In the Rules and Standing Orders of the Society, №73 notes: “In the event of a conflict over a decision concerning a particular policy or the implementation of a particular policy, or concerning amendments to the Rules or Standing Orders, and the Rules and Standing Orders are otherwise silent, the following shall take precedence in the following order of seniority:
(1) A Poll of Members as under Rule 47(f);
(2) A Private Business Motion at a Public Business Meeting to which Rule 67(b)(iv) or Rule 67(b) (v) applies;
(3) Other Private Business Motions at a Public Business Meeting or any Special Adjournment Motion, as under Rule 45;
(4) A Private Business Motion at a Private Business Meeting;
(5) The Returning Officer, for the purposes of their duty only, as defined in Rule 32(e) only;
(6) A motion of an Ordinary or Emergency Standing Committee;
(7) A motion of a Vacation Standing Committee.”
As the trial slate ban was passed by a Private Business Motion at a Public Business Meeting, the earlier “Special Attention” which granted the introduction of slates would take precedence on any overlapping decisions made by the two votes under this technicality. This means the later ban could be rendered invalid.
The rules changed by the Special Attention can only be changed by another Special Attention or a poll of the members.
The Oxford Union, Liam Frahm were contacted for comment. Ray Williams and Brendan McGrath declined to comment.