SES Motions to OUSA Conference 2004


Motion 68M(PO) 2004

Our aim this year was to remove the confusion caused (unwittingly) last year by the Executive Committee's motion 32M(PO). This is the motion I proposed:

This Association recognises fundamental differences, both in purpose and in law, between the use of animals in the University's educational curriculum and the use of animals in its research. This Association therefore resolves to delete Motion 32M(PO) 2003 on the grounds that it confuses research with undergraduate experiments.

The motion was fiercely contested by two members of the EC who clearly had not done their homework! The first declared that because 32M(PO) 2003 had been overwhelmingly carried it should not be deleted, which was in fact untrue because last year two people came to me separately and said that I should have asked for a count because it looked very close to them. The second EC member spoke most vociferously that deleting 32 would leave students who opted-out unprotected, which is of course nonsense, because 33M(PO) 2003 quite clearly protects the academic record of students who opt out of doing experiments on animal and animal tissue.

Motion 68M(PO), to our great pleasure, was clearly carried and this was confirmed by a count.


My presentation of Motion 68M(PO)

And this is what I had to say about it.

"Frankly, what happened last year was a bit of a mess, quite apart from my own inadvertant attempts to sabotage my own motion! [Readers: You may remember that instead of proposing motion 33M(PO), I used my notes for opposing the EC's motion 32M(PO) by mistake! Oops!] Last year the EC's well-meaning Motion 32M(PO) which is the one we want to delete attempted to pull together various aspects of ethical science into one bit of policy. Our motions 33 and 34, which were carried last year, covered all the necessary ground such as

  • sufficiently detailed descriptions in course brochures
  • reducing and replacing animal experiments with humane alternatives
  • ensuring that no student's academic record be adversely affected by refusal to participate in animal experiments and that
  • animal tissue should be ethically sourced. So far, so good.

Which brings us to three main reasons why we want to delete last year's motion 32.

Firstly, research

Motion 32 refers to research. But animals used in research must be dealt with separately because in fact it is impossible to use animals ethically in research because they are either harmed or killed as part of the research, and that in itself is not ethical. Now, in the University, in the Science Faculty's website, and in law, research and education are two different arenas, and as such should not be cobbled together in the same bit of policy and the policy we're discussing here is about educational experiments. It is about education. It is not about research. Research is about new ideas. Research is about the discovery of new knowledge. Research is not about teaching old tricks to new students. So, that bit needs to go.

Secondly, interpretation

On the whole Motion 32 was badly drafted. Reference is made to "such experimentation" when the experimentation had not been defined. The phrase "where alternatives cannot be used or found" allows the university to potentially make subjective or spurious arguments against the use of alternatives; and it refers to 'refusal' but doesn't clarify what the student is refusing to do, or refusing to experience.

Finally, get the name right

The final paragraph of 32 refers incorrectly to the Science Faculty Committee, whereas 33 correctly identifies it as the Animal Ethical Committee. So let's get rid of the confusion. Please vote in support of Motion 68, and let's remove last year's 32 in the pursuit of clear policy. Thank you."

The motion went to a count and was resoundingly carried 73/43.



Motion 69M(PO) 2004

This was our motion to enhance last year's Motion 34.

Delete Motion 34M(PO) 2003 and replace with:

"This Association recognises that the University may wish to continue to provide experiments using animal tissue at undergraduate residential and day schools using animal tissue. It calls upon the University to ensure that any such tissue is ethically sourced, e.g. neither from purpose-bred nor purpose-killed animals."


Motion 70M(PO) 2004

This is the Executive committee's Motion 70M(PO) which sought to diminish the strength of our Motion 34M(PO).

"Delete Resolution 34M(PO) 2003 and replace with:

"This Association recognises that the University may wish to continue to provide experiments using animal tissue. It calls upon the University to ensure, where practical and within the bounds of the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986* and current health and safety regulations, that any such tissue is ethically sourced e.g. not from purpose-bred or purpose killed animals."

* Undergraduate educational experiments are outside the scope of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA).

We would have asked Conference to defeat this motion because it is unnecessary, and it offers a get-out clause to the OU. Educational experiments at the OU do not fall within the scope of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, whereas research using animals does. Neither does the motion specify that the experiments for which ethical sourcing is possible are in undergraduate education, unlike Motion 69M(PO), which does.

However, conference ran out of time and the motion was not heard.


Motion 34M(PO) 2003

This is the motion that SES wanted this year to enhance with Motion 69M(PO) 2004 and the EC to diminish with Motion 70M(PO), neither of which were debated as Conference ran out of time.

"This Association recognises that the University may wish to continue to provide experiments using animal tissue. It calls upon the University to ensure that any such tissue is ethically sourced, e.g. not from purpose-bred or purpose killed animals."



Motion 71M(PO) 2004

Societies Standing Committee

"This Association calls for the complete cessation of research using animals as models for human conditions at the OU and for its replacement with more effective methods such as epidemiological and clinical studies, scanning technology, in vitro studies and computer modelling."

We brought this motion to conference becasue we believe that it is time for all researchers to move away from harmful, cruel, and unproductive research into human ailments by monkeying around with animals, and to embrace alternative humane and relevant methods and the benefits that new technology can bring. It's absurd that in the 21st Century we should be wasting research years and money trying to inflict human diseases and ailments on animals; and then even more years and more money trying to cure them; and then trying to extrapolate the results into what will happen in humans. And it's obscene that we should be inflicting fear, pain and distress on sentient beings because we haven't been taught any better.

This University must move with the times and get out of its deeply entrenched harmful animal use - harmful to the animals, and harmful to humans.

Sadly this motion was not debated because Conference ran out of time.