Amanda Davidson, the chairwoman of the Student Union’s Student Council, has hit out at the Union for failing to act before deadlines set by the Council.
In an open letter to the SU Mrs Davidson criticised the handling of plans to introduce a No Platform policy, which was passed at the last Council meeting of the academic year at the end of April. No Platform involves the SU boycotting groups deemed to be offensive.
She said the content of the motion wasn’t the issue, but rather the full-time officers not acting on demands from the student body.
The No Platform motion required the SU to take an official stance within five days, and to present a written policy to the Council by email within three weeks.
But Mrs Davidson told The Linc that, as of Thursday 28th May, “there has been no response” to her requests for an explanation.
She said that once the later deadline, in mid-May, had passed she tried to get in touch with Daniel Hutchinson, the SU’s president. She tried “numerous emails, text messages [and] phone calls,” but “no response has been received to any of these.”
Mrs Davidson wanted to call the Council to hold the full-time officers to account for the failure, but was prevented by the SU’s regulations.
The rules prevent the Council from being called after they’ve held their last meeting of the academic year, though the SU’s trustees and the full-time ‘executive’ can. Mrs Davidson said: “I have a feeling there’s some red faces in the policy department” over this.
However, even if the Council was called the power held by the officers would probably prevent them from taking disciplinary action.
Mrs Davidson said: “You’ve got the issue that almost 50% of the vote is held by the executive. If we lost one or two student members, or they just didn’t attend, it’s basically not going to happen.”
“I think the officers are aware of that, and are using that as one of the reasons why we’re not actually seeing them enact the mandates. We need to seriously re-design Council.”
“This was one of the biggest policies the Council has ever had to deal with,” she said.
“To this date there has been no response… as to why this policy has not been released to Council so it could go to the student body.”
The No Platform debate at the student Council, which the full-time officers attended, included detailed discussion of the wording of the motion. “We made some alterations [from] those present so we could move on easily,” said Mrs Davidson.
“I’m very surprised especially since a lot of the input was from the [full-time officers]. I would have expected them to take a strong leadership.”
Mrs Davidson said that she wasn’t questioning the characters of the officers, but it was about professional issues.
In an email response to the open letter, Vicky Wieczerzynska, the vice-president for welfare, said that “a policy was written” but that not enough full-time officers were available to do anything further. This is partly due to Mr Hutchinson being ill.
“This is supposed to be a professional organisation. The president has been off sick, resulting in what seems to be the whole SU grinding to a halt,” said Mrs Davidson.
“Those [officers] that are finishing this year will not be held to account, but they’ll also not be able to clear this away. It won’t be closed for them.” They wouldn’t be able to look back on their time here with pride, she said.
Kayleigh Turner, the only full-time officer carrying on, and the part-time officers who are moving into full-time positions will probably face a rebuke from the Council in September.
Mrs Davidson said: “There’s unfairness in this… [but we] need to get across to the incoming president that this isn’t acceptable.”