Guide to Women’s Council

click here for dates for Women’s Council 2008-2009

The Guide to Women’s Council

This guide is aimed primarily at Women’s Officers and those who regularly attend Women’s Council. It aims to clarify the procedures of Council as governed by the Standing Orders of the Women’s Union. Although it adds little to the text of the Standing Orders, it’s a bit more user-friendly.

If you would like to find out about the more basic Council procedures, such as submitting an agenda item or writing a motion, you can see the Basic Intro to Council.

If you have any further questions or queries about the Standing Orders, or Council procedures in general, you can bring them up at Council or get in touch with me by phone on 01223 761 694 or by e-mail


Women’s Council shall formulate and implement the policy of the CUSU Women’s Union. It shall control the budget of the Union and act as a consultative body to CUSU on all its work on women.

Composition of Council

Women’s Council is comprised of the following voting members:

The Women’s Sabb
The Women’s Union Executive Committee
The Undergraduate Women’s Officer of each college
The Graduate Women’s Officer of each college

A list of Council membership is available for consultation at the CUSU Women’s Union Office.

Any members of CUSU Women’s Union may attend and speak at Women’s Council

Women’s Council shall meet four times during Michaelmas and Lent Terms, and three times during Easter Term (to allow for examinations).

Motions require a simple majority to be passed, except in the case of constitutional changes, where a three-quarters majority is required.

Motions passed become Women’s Union policy automatically.

Submission of Motions

Motions must be proposed by two Women’s Union members.

Motions must be submitted four days before Women’s Council (The Friday before Council by 5pm).

Amendments to Motions must be submitted before the debate begins at Council.

Emergency Motions are only valid if the substance of the motion has arisen after the normal motions deadline. They must be submitted to the Women’s Officer within 48 hours of this event occurring.

The Order Paper (Agenda)

The Order Paper always follows the same structure, as follows:

1) Welcome
2) News
3) Corrections to Minutes
4) Matters arising from minutes of last Council
5) Announcements by the Executive
6) Questions to the Executive
7) Announcements and reports
8) Motions
9) Emergency Motions
10) CUSU Motions
11) Elections
12) Any Other Business

Objections to the Order Paper

Objections to the order in which business is discussed can be made to the Chair. They must be presented in writing, signed by three voting members of women’s Council, to the Chair.

Procedure of Debate

The proposer of a motion has a right of reply for a summation speech immediately before a vote is taken

If an amendment to the motion has been submitted, and it is accepted by the proposers of the motion then it automatically becomes part of that motion. Any amendments that are either accepted or passed by Women’s Council then become part of the motion itself.

Amendments cannot be submitted to Emergency Motions.

Standing Orders cannot be repeatedly moved if they have already been defeated unless there has been a change in the situation that would justify reconsideration. The Chair can unilaterally dismiss further attempts to move a Standing Order if it has already failed twice.

The Chair can also dismiss any amendment that contradicts an existing amendment that has been passed.

Procedural Motions

Points of Order take precedence over other business, but can only be put after at least one speech for and one speech against the motion have been made. The point of order can move the following procedural motions:

a) That the question not be put (i.e. move immediately on to next motion)
b) That the matter be referred back to a future Women’s Council or to a committee
c) That the motion or amendments be voted on in parts (see below)
d) That specified Standing Orders be suspended. This generally requires a two-thirds majority.

The above procedural motions are voted on immediately without discussion.

The following procedural motions can also be raised on a point of order:

a) A request for a Chair’s ruling (which shall be given at once)
b) A challenge to the Chair’s ruling. The Chair has right of reply before the vote is taken.
c) That the Chairperson leave the Chair for the rest of the meeting. In this case, the Chair is handed over to another member of Women’s Executive Committee while speeches for and against are taken. The Chair has the last speech before the vote is taken, and a two-thirds majority is required.

b) and c) above require the support of at least ten members of Women’s Council before they can be considered.

Points of order can only be raised during a speech, not during a vote unless they relate to the procedure of that vote.


A motion/amendment can be taken in parts either if the relevant point of order is raised, or if the Executive Committee specifies in the Order Paper that it wishes to do so.

Parts means that each part of the motion is debated and voted upon separately. If passed, it becomes policy. If passed inquorately, then that part returns to its original position in the motion. If not passed then that part is deleted from the motion.

If an amendment is taken in parts and passed then it becomes an amendment to the motion. If passed inquorately then it returns to its original position. If not passed then it is deleted.

A procedural motion to vote on the motion as a whole can be moved. This requires the support of ten members of Council, is voted on immediately without further discussion and is passed by a simple majority. The effect of this procedural motion is that after each part has been voted upon, those parts that have been passed are then voted upon as one whole motion. If this motion is defeated then none of the parts pass in to policy.

Policy Lapse

Policy Lapses at the end of Lent Term, three years after it was passed. Such policy can be resubmitted to Women’s Council in the normal way.

Executive Report and Plan
The Women’s Sabb has to submit a report to the first Council of each term.

The following procedural motions can then be submitted:
a) To approve a plan as Women’s Union policy
b) To refer back all or part of a report
c) To censure the Women’s Sabb

In order to be quorate, there must be one fifth of all voting members present at Women’s Council.

Abuse and Harassment

Anyone making an abusive or discriminatory remark in a speech shall be asked by the Chair to withdraw the remark. Anyone interrupting a speech with an abusive or discriminatory remark is asked to withdraw the remark or to leave the meeting.