What Is Liberalism?

As our main aim is to promote Liberal values throughout the Student body at Queen's, our policies are based predominantly upon Students' Union affairs, but members are encouraged to submit policy suggestions on any topic of interest to them.

The following policy shall lapse at the Annual Business Meeting of the Society 2000/2001 unless ratified by the Society on or before that meeting.

Freedom Of Information
We believe that there must be freedom of information within the Union in order to keep students better informed and aware of the actions of those who seek to represent them. We strongly believe that we can only base our opinions on the facts at hand, and if we aren't told anything, our vote for anyone or anything is next to worthless. We demand that the minutes of the Student Council and the Executive Committee be publicised in Banter and that posters are put-up in prominent positions in the foyer showing the reasons for and consequences of the actions of the adminstrative bodies in the Union. It is only through easy access to this information that the students in Queen's will be able to make informed choices when it comes to elections. We need to see the budding politicians for what they are, rather than what they want us to see them as on polling day!

The Unionist Chillfactor
We fully understand that many unionists feel oppressed within the Union, but we believe that this stems more from the "Chillfactor" propaganda created by the Unionist leaders at Queen's than from any real anti-Unionist resentment. We do not discount that there may once have been active oppression in the past, but we also realise that the Students' Union has moved forward and is steadily achieving it goal of "fostering unity of spirit". Screaming facts and figures about the number of Protestants who do/do not use the Students' Union in the evening does not change the situation. We need to attract more Protestants, but we also need to attract more Catholics. Regardless of religion, we need to ensure that the Union is the number one venue for all Students at Queen's. Whilst we are sympathetic to Unionists who feel alienated, we would remind them that the only way to get more Protestants into the Union is to make THEM go into the Union instead of standing outside complaining.

The Irish Language Signs
The Liberal Society is committed to promoting all cultures within the Students' Union. We believe, however, that since the Irish Language is spoken by only a small percentage of the population at Queen's, there is no valid reason for there to be Irish signs. We do concede that Irish is an important aspect of Irish culture, but it is not the be all and end all of Irish culture. English is the only common language found throughout the student body at Queen's and that is why it is used in signs here - we reject any notion that the English language is 'better' than the Irish language or vice versa. It is a practical decision, not a political one. Until every student here is familiar with another language, be that Irish or whatever, we oppose any move to reinstate signs in a minority language.

Reform of The Electoral System
As democrats, we are always striving to find an electoral system which ensures government of the Students, for the Students, and by the Students. We believe that the current system of elections to the Council needs to be revamped to ensure that the current uncooperative unionist majority in the Council (which certainly does not exist in the student body as a whole) is brought to an end. We need Council to be representative of the actual politics on the ground. We need also to review the funtions of the Council, in order to both define and limit its role in the Union clearly.

When it comes to the Executive Committee, we believe that there must be proportionality, but at the same time we do not wish to see a List system implemented. We believe that the current system of electing the Union Officers using Single Transferable Vote is fair, but we also think something must be added. In the last election, Nigel Hamilton polled over 40% of the first preference votes, but was pipped at the post by Paul McGarrity who won on transferred votes. We are therefore keeping a large section of the community out of the Executive Committee, and one immediate step to prevent this is to allow candidates who poll a high level of votes onto the Executive Committee as officers without portfolios. They would then be able to influence decisions taken at Executive level.

However, all reform must be ongoing and constructive. We need to work on both a long term and short term strategy, and this will involves all sections of the student community. Communication barriers between the political societies in the Union need to be torn down, and trust and confidence must be built, to secure a better Union for us all.

Student Societies And Events
We vehemently believe that students should not be prevented from expressing their political or religious opinions by anyone, certainly not the administrative bodies of the Union. We therefore demand that the Constitution be changed to ensure that Clubs and Societies do not fall under the jursdiction of a biased Council. We have already seen the Unionists on Council deny freedom of expression to the Sinn Féin Cumann and Progressive Unionist Associations because they disagreed with their views. We think that this outrage is a clear indication of the one-party totalitarian attitude of the Unionists. It is not up to us to deny freedoms to other. The right to start-up a Student Society must not be questioned by the Council. Their only role should be ensuring that the actions of the Societies do not contradict Union policy.

President Paul McGarrity's decision to veto Council's decisions achieved what the Liberal Society wanted - impartiality in the Union for all political societies, but his methods were far less than desirable. The Liberal Society condemns vehemently any Executive Officer ignoring the Legislative body of our Union, regardless of the outcome.

The Occupation Of The Admin Building
The Liberal Society condemns the brute force employed to end the occupation, and we believe firmly that the Vice-Chancellor should have met with the Occupiers in order to end the protest amicably.

Working Within The Law
The Liberal Society believes in working within the law in order to change the law. We therefore condemn any attempts to use illegal activities to subvert the law.

Tuition Fees
The Liberal  Society believes that every individual should have the right to third level education, and that there should be no financial impedements which prevent such a right.

Constitutional Reform Of The Students' Union
The Liberal Society notes the urgent need for a review and reform of the governmental structures and Constitution of the Students' Union. We therefore mandate the Joint Presidents of the Society to put forward a motion to Student Council which, if supported, would initiate such a review.