Beaver

3 UGM motions pass: mental health, beef ban, and drug policy reform

By Angbeen Abbas and Benjamin Crozier

The three motions presented on Thursday 30 February at this term’s second UGM have passed. Students voted largely in favour of  improving mental health provisions at LSE (464 votes in favour), banning beef on campus (243 votes in favour), and reforming the school’s Drug Policy (335 votes in favour).  

The motion that proposed banning beef at LSE received 170 opposing votes, a significantly higher figure compared to the other two motions which were each voted against by fewer than 30 students. The motion requesting an LSE Drug policy reform had the most abstentions between the three, totalling 67 votes.

The first motion presented last Thursday and passed today was submitted by second-year BSc IR and History student Ella Marshall and third-year BSc Economic History student Will Banks. It calls for improvements in the university’s support network. During the UGM, they also called for a replacement of the current culture “that causes the deterioration of staff and student wellbeing”.

Specifically, the motion aims to reduce waiting times for counselling to a maximum of two weeks, develop a clear source of information for all safeguarding and wellbeing services, and introduce pastoral mentors alongside the current academic ones.

The motion also aims to change the culture of work and stress at LSE. It suggests that departments should promote greater socialising within courses by ensuring that all class members are introduced to one another and by organising more social events within departments. The solutions proposed by Marshall and Banks were derived from polls and conversations at the Freedom of Mind Week at LSE, held in October 2019.

The second motion passed today, proposed by GC student Phoebe Woodruff and second-year BA History student Sarah Nappi, recommends “cutting beef out of all affiliated dining halls, cafes and catering menus” at LSE. 

At the UGM, Woodruff’s speech outlined how beef products have a significant impact on carbon emissions, with beef producing 40 times more emissions than beans per calorie. “Of course, there are many ways we can reduce our carbon footprint, but none so great or immediately actionable as addressing the wastefulness of our menus right here and now. LSE has an opportunity here to be a trailblazer of sustainability and to take a principled stand against climate change,” Woodruff told The Beaver last Thursday. 

Nicolas Feil, a third-year PPE student and an active campaigner for the motion, added, “Beef is the worst animal product, because it produces methane, requires tons of water and uses the majority of arable land worldwide. That land could be reforested or used to feed humans.”

During its campaign, the motion was criticized for excluding those who cannot switch to a vegan or vegetarian diet. At the UGM, LSESU Disabled Students’ officer Jesse Horowitz spoke against the motion arguing that such policies shift the focus towards the consumer, as opposed to the agricultural industry as a whole. He explained that there are “rampant sustainability issues in agriculture in general”, and that a more “measured response” is required, with such policies being too radical, according to him.

In response to concerns that a policy like this could force a vegan or vegetarian diet on students, Woodruff argued that the university is in a metropolitan area, where beef products are still accessible. Aside from that, she said, the policy is about taking “a principled stand”, and does not necessarily enforce a specific type of lifestyle.

The third motion, which aims to reform LSE and LSESU Drug Policy, was proposed by Activities and Development Officer Jack Boyd and Sam Rowlands. They argue that LSE’s provision of safe information regarding drug usage is inadequate. At the UGM, Boyd suggested that the university should offer more than solely addiction-related information about drugs, and should offer professional support for students who need it.

The motion follows a campaign by LSESU officials and elected representatives started in November 2019, focused on switching the school’s policy on drugs from what campaigners deem to be a punitive approach to a harm reduction one. The current ‘Student drugs and alcohol policy‘  in place at LSE dates from 2002. 

The full motions can be read at bit.ly/motions20feb

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