How to write a motion for Voice

What is a Motion?

A motion is a position statement which is debated at Student Voice, students will either agree or disagree with the statement, and there is also an option to abstain (meaning the student neither agrees or disagrees or they don’t want to vote)

The format of motions at Student Voice is the same as the National Union of Students (NUS) use, known as ‘structured substantives’ – essentially  this is information which introduces the background to the motion, the format of this is usually:

Ø  ‘notes’ which are facts,

Ø  ‘believes’ which are the beliefs that our organisation will adopt. These will become guiding principles for the policy, and

Ø  ‘resolves’ which concludes for something to happen. 

There is an example of a motion below.

You can download a blank motions form by clicking here


What is a Policy?

A policy is a clear, simple statement of how an organisation intends to conduct its services, actions or business. They provide a set of guiding principles to help with decision making.  At SAUWS, Student Voice members can submit motions to the Association in order that a stance is taken on a particular subject.

Policies passed by previous students include campaigning for free education, supporting Trade Union strike action, banning the song Blurred Lines from our Unions and getting Care Leavers recognised as a disadvantaged and under-represented group alongside LGBT, Black, Disabled and Women Students.


What is a debate?

A debate is essentially a formal argument between two individuals or groups, and when we say argument we don’t mean shouting at each other.  The argument in this process is very structured and democratic and in order to ensure a structured and democratic argument there will always be a ‘Chair’.   At SAUWS we have a Union Chair, the Union Chair is there to facilitate the discussions and ensure both sides of the argument have a fair and equal go at the argument.  The Union Chair however will never have an opinion on the topic of the argument – or at least they won’t express this while Chairing. 


How do I debate a motion?

The format of a debate is almost always the same – there is always a ‘for’ or ‘affirmative’ argument and an ‘against’ or ‘negative’ argument.

The two individuals or groups participating in a debate will be debating or arguing a motion.  Each side will be given a predetermined amount of time to speak on the motion which is normally set by the Union Chair and the individual or group who is arguing for or affirming the motion will normally speak first.


How do I develop a motion for Policy?

Before you can submit a motion you need to decide what the issue is that you would like debated and turned into policy.  This could be anything which is affecting your student experience or something that affects you as a student.

You then need to find out if other students think this issue is a problem that should be addressed by the Students’ Association.  If they do, you can start to write your motion.

In order to write an effective motion, you’ll need to find out the facts of the situation, are there figures you can use to support your motion, are there facts from research you can include to back up your motion – these are your ‘notes’.

You then should detail how this issue affects you as a student, detail further evidence or quotes from real students, you could also add evidence from other Students’ Associations to back up the affects that the issue has on students – these are your ‘believes’

Then you need to decide what you want to happen as a result of the issue, what could we or students do to improve the issue.  This could be anything from lobbying the university or Government or campaigning or raising awareness of the issue – this is your ‘resolves’


What next?

Once your motion is written, it should be emailed to for inclusion into the next available Student Voice meeting.  You will be informed of when this is so that you can attend and speak on your motion.

If you need any help in developing your motion you can contact either Claire Lumsden on or any of the Student Officers.



Example Motion

Scots versus Dutch

Council notes:

  1. That Scottish cheddar cheese is categorised as ‘extremely creamy’[1] by the Food Standards Agency,
  2. That 97% of our students stated this creaminess makes Scottish Cheddar irresistible[2],
  3. This has resulted in Scottish Cheddar Cheese taking over our sandwiches’

Council believes:

  1. That the irresistible creaminess of Scottish Cheddar has brainwashed our students into believing no other cheese is good enough
  2. That other cheeses should be given a chance to thrive among our student community
  3. That Edam cheese is just as creamy as Scottish Cheddar
  4. That Scottish Cheddar Cheese has high calorie and fat content
  5. That Edam cheese is a good alternative to Scottish Cheddar in terms of both Calories and Fat content[3]

Council resolves:

1.      For Edam Cheese to replace Scottish Cheddar Cheese in all UWS and SAUWS catering outlets

2.      That this change must be explained effectively and efficiently to students in terms of health benefits

3.      To mandate the President to ensure this change, and its communication to students, is carried out immediately.



[1] Food Standards Agency (2010) ‘Creamiest Cheese 2010’ 

[2] SAUWS Student Survey (2011) question asked ‘what do you find most irresistible about UWS/SAUWS sandwiches’

[3] Self Nutrition Data (2011)  Accessed on 10.07.2011, available at:



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