This House Believes in Compulsory Organ Donation

Minutes: By-Election

So the 9th Meeting of the 166th Session of The Literific was held on the 27th of November in the QUB Senate Room, it was attended by a lot of people that I forgot to count so I’m going to say around 60 members.

Our Secretary Alexandra Philpot opened the evening with the announcement of a By-Election to elect the new President of the 166th Session of The Literific. Candidates for the position were Harry Adair, Peter McCormack, Tara Pouryahya and Sophie Stratfull – each candidate was allowed a two minute speech to put their case to the House.

Harry Adair began with a brief description of his current role as treasurer and the responsibility he currently has, he emphasised the neutrality of the chair and that he wanted 2015 to be the best year of the Literific so far!

Peter McCormack began his speech with a cringeworthy ‘I have a dream’ moment and continued to suggest a more inclusive Literific with a diverse group of people. He then totally fangirl-ed with the statement that differences in people causes friction, friction causes fire, like the fire in his heart for the society. Oh. My.

Tara Pouryahya was next up and began with an Iggy Izaelia quote – something about being a realist. No, I am not singing/rapping/whatever-ing it. She expressed to the House that she was annoying and helped out a lot with the previous council which was met with an agreeable nod. She suggested the idea of an open Forum where members could put forward ideas for the society which was mentioned in her previous campaign for President: see photoshopped images of Tara on Harry Potter on Facebook.

Ms Sophie Stratfull concluded by stating her extensive experience as a second year rep and as current external convenor, adding that the society drives her up the walls. In a good way. She continued to put forward her ideas for consolidating the current membership of The Literific and that she would welcome all opinions, ideas and criticisms in order to have an open, welcoming society.

The House was allowed to question each of the candidates – which took a while long time – questions were heard from Mr Brendan ‘Briefly’ Kelters, Ms Christine Fleming, Ms Aisha Sobey, Mr Calvin Black, Mr Robbie Whitehurst and Ms Katy Waller. I told you, a lot of questions.

The by-election then went to a vote, which failed to reach a simple majority twice and on the third round of voting it was announced that Ms Tara Pouryahya would The President of the 166th Session of The Literific, which is why she is sitting in that seat.

Minutes: This House Believes in Compulsory Organ Donation

On to the debate, at last! Our new President had the pleasure of introducing the motion, which she got wrong inducing the first ShameResign of her term in office. Ms Pouryahya introduced our guest chair for the evening Dr. Tom Walker, a Senior Lecturer in Medical Ethics; who sat through an entire 75mins of an election. We couldn’t apologise enough.

He began a brief opening statement outlining the current opt-in system and stating that it doesn’t always work that way in practice. He mentioned that there is a three year wait for a kidney transplant and 245 days for a heart, with 1000 people in the UK die every year waiting on an organ transplant. Cheery.

Ms. Alexandra Philpot opened for the proposition outlining the motion. She stated that currently in the UK citizens must actively sign up to the register but making donation compulsory does not mean you cannot opt out. Whilst batting away Points of Information like nobody’s business, she continued with the analogy that, at the current rate, if the people of the house were all to be waiting for donations; proposition would die today, opposition would die the next and it would be less than a month for the audience. Again, cheery.

Kuz Khan opened for the opposition with confusion on the proposition’s definition of compulsory – which he had Googled during first prop’s speech (I think that’s okay?) He rebutted proposition by stating Google told him compulsory meant obligatory and that this contradicts the previous definition of the motion. He then continued with his own argument stating in 2013 it was found that 82% of people were willing to donate at least some organs although not all had signed up – he questioned if it is right to make it compulsory for the other 18% or should there be more about awareness and campaigns?

Craig Miller, for the proposition, explained the difference between brain stem death and cardiac death, in which he said that organs are generally removed with brain stem death where the family had the chance to grieve. This would be advantageous to society, to the patient and respectful for the family. In an unprecedented Literific move he totally disagreed with first prop and suggested that the motion to opt-out is not covered within the ‘compulsory’ motion, but rather that eligible people should be made to donate. He concluded by stating that humans don’t just have rights, they have responsibility and this doesn’t end with death.

Beth Malcolmson continued for opposition stating that opposition were not against donation but just the idea of it being compulsory. She said we must first consider the quality of the organs coming from the deceased; that the rights of the dead shouldn’t be ignored and that organ donation can add stress to already grieving relatives. She carried on to question ownership of the deceased and said that if the state owned the body the patient has no rights.

Captain Ciaran Gallagher concluded for the proposition stating that he thought the organ donation was going to be a comical, more light-hearted debate and that he was mistaken. He stated that he would acknowledge the topic’s sensitivity with some radical views. Obviously… He then paraphrased George Carlin by saying ‘Graveyards should be dug up to make homes for the homeless’. People were confused. No one laughed. He pointed this out. Everyone laughed. I wasn’t quite sure how this was relevant until he stated that the majority had more rights than the minority – the dead. A minority. As he took a moment to gather his thoughts, Kelters was straight in there with a PoI. However, he did finish with an actual point that organ donation might lead to less crime in harvesting organs; announced he was an organ donor and sat down. Utilitarian was mentioned quite a lot, I’m convinced only The Literific uses this word.

Final speaker for the opposition, Ben Matthews, also had a dream: ‘that people will judge me on the content of my argument and not the creepiness of my moustache’ Thank God Movember is over. His content was actually quite good. He stated that body autonomy exists beyond the grave; we cannot question one’s right to religious faith and that some denominations do not support donation so who are we to say that it’s compulsory. Utilitarian was mentioned again, I definitely need to Google this. Mr Matthews even suggested that if donation was compulsory that doctors may mistreat unlikeable patients so that they have the opportunity to donate their organs to a ‘nice person’ – in response a PoI from Ms. Waller he confirmed he did neither have the intellect or desire to become a doctor. This pleased the House and the motion went to the floor.

Questions were heard from Ms. Gemma Canham, Ms. Sophie Stratfull and Mr. Brendan Kelters. Few questions however some memorable quotes:

Alex on Craig’s views: ‘Bless him, he’s just right of Hitler’. President Pouryahya pleaded for people to be nice to her on her first day and Captain Gallagher refers to death as a ‘philosophical ambiguity’. What even?

Before going to the vote Dr Walker summed up the arguments and added a few pints the speakers missed: he clarified that after death no one in fact owns a body. Speakers didn’t mention who the opt-in/out policy would extend to – children? Visitors to the UK? He concluded with the point that Singapore did in fact have compulsory organ donation and it had to be revoked due to families disagreeing and doctors unwilling to go against family wishes.

After an election, debate and questions the motion went to a vote with 13 proposition, 12 opposition, 3 abstentions and a lot of other people too tired to raise their membership cards. The motion passed – This House Would Have Compulsory Organ Donation. Can I take the minutes as read?

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