Ary’s absence slammed at Student Council

Students’ Union president Ary Sharif has been criticised at the first Student Council of the year for his decision to go on leave — while at the same time an undisclosed “serious” review of the union takes place.

Sharif was not present at the meeting, as he has taken his allowance of four weeks unpaid leave to finish his MA dissertation and will be returning on November 1st, but his absence did not go unquestioned.

Dan Derricott, who competed against Sharif in the SU elections, asked: “Do you think it’s appropriate that the president takes so much time off and is still taking photographs in clubs at night at a time when the union is going through quite a lot of change?”


Where's Ary? The SU president has taken leave to finish his dissertation - but there are tricky times at the SU. Photo: The Linc

Derricott also complained that Sharif appeared to prioritise his job as a photographer over SU president. He noted that students are not being represented at the highest levels of university meetings, the executive board and the board of governors, where his role cannot be covered by acting president Kayleigh Taylor. Many of Sharif’s other responsibilities have been shared between the other full time officers.

Former RAG officer Phil Krstic said: “It confuses me that he’s mixing being a student and being SU president and how that’s been intermingled. Surely if you’re the SU president that’s your job for the year?”

There was strong debate about Sharif’s decision, as some students argued that there was a conflict of interest of him working in a nightclub as the union has a policy of promoting responsible drinking, whilst others felt that continuing his job as a photographer was “irrelevant”. Further concerns included that “there has been no notification about him taking his leave”.

His leave has left the other officers under further pressure as they deal with “something of a serious nature” within the union. Kayleigh Taylor, vice president for welfare at Lincoln SU, revealed that something was under review, but could not go into detail for legal reasons.

“Our trustee board is currently working alongside the university’s HR department to resolve some issues that have arisen over the last few months at the union. Please understand that legally I can’t discuss them in detail and believe me when I say if we could, we would,” Taylor explained.

She assured council that the union would continue to represent students “as best we can” and still attend meetings but admitted the review was taking up a lot of their time: “We are quite short of staff, that’s no secret … there are a shortage of part-time officers but there are the by-elections coming up so we hope to fill the main positions.”

Andreas Zacharia, vice-president for activities, reassured the council that “nobody’s died” but that the situation was being taken seriously.

Also present at the start of the meeting was the University of Lincoln’s deputy vice-chancellor Scott Davidson, who explained how the university is in the process of “evolving” into a three college structure. Courses will be grouped in to colleges of science, social science and arts, but Davidson said that students “probably won’t realise any immediate difference”.

Other issues raised at the meeting was the union’s environmental impact, if more Mac computers could be made available in the library, reminding lecturers to finish 10 minutes before the end of the hour and the possibility of putting power supplies in lecture theatres for student to use laptops.

6 Responses to Ary’s absence slammed at Student Council

  1. Michael Beddoes says:

    I just wondered why Kayleigh Taylor would not be allowed to provide coverage in the high end meetings? They are essential and as acting president and a fantastic officer surely she should be in there.

  2. She said they had tried to fill the position in those committees but had not been allowed to.

  3. The environmental impact of the university as a whole was raised as an issue, one that is not limited to the SU alone.

  4. Ary says:

    Dear Students,

    I have only now noticed the article. Here are few things I would like to add.

    To start off with, I can understand the criticism raised by Dan and Phil and would like to give you my input on the story, something I haven’t had a chance to do, nor been asked to do.

    Initially, whilst the timing of my leave may not be perceived as ideal, it is something that has been discussed with the Sabbatical officers, the Board of Trustees and senior members of staff.

    My study leave has been in accordance to HR policies and I can rest assure that before I left, the decision was agreed up and supported by other colleagues who also had an input in the process.

    To get to the point, I think there are things that need to be addressed in the article.
    When the leave was accepted by the above parties, the sabbatical officers (through the General Manager) sent criterias in which I was expected to follow.
    Below is a link to the screen shot of that email:

    http://i56.tinypic.com/11aa8a1.jpg

    As the email clearly states, my remit and representational role would be delegated ‘according to set procedures’ and I was verbally assured that representation would not be compromised whilst I am away.
    Further to this, I would like to make a firm point that my colleagues have been involved in various committees whilst I have been away and students have been represented in all forums.
    As for the concerns regarding Board of Governors, till date, there has not been any meetings but I have been invited by the Board to attend the meeting on Thursday – something I am looking forward to.

    ‘The Review’
    Whilst I can understand the comments regarding the timing, the current ‘review’ that Kayleigh mentioned plays a huge factor into why I made the decision to take up on the suggestion of study leave, coming from a member of the senior management.
    In order to avoid speculation and rumours, the review is relating to events that took place before the elections in March (so it is not anything personal towards me) and the nature of the topic is very serious so whilst I wish I could give you more details about this, I cannot comment further but would like to highlight that the circumstances in which I entered my role in office were far from ‘ideal’ and that was the main factor affecting my ability of finishing off my MBA Dissertation in the summer.

    Night clubs
    I do not know where and how this statement has been formed but it is clear that it is based on no facts.
    I would like to highlight that going out does not equal drinking, nor does it in anyway mean by me taking photos of nights out that I endorse or promote drinking light or heavy – it does not.
    As far as that goes, it’s a 4 hour process every week and I can understand that it may be easier to focus on me taking an hour break a couple of nights per week instead of recognizing the endless hours in the library (and architecture building) alongside the students.

    Conflict of interest:
    Again, I am not in any form or way promoting any drinking and those who are out would indeed notice that. Further to this, I would like to highlight that if there are concerns about drinking policies then I am here to echo your concerns whether that being regarding the prices on alcohol – including the £1 spirits by Engine Shed- or other concerns.
    I am here to represent students and if there are concerns, please contact me, or any of the other elected officers.

    With all this being said, I would like students to be aware of the reason for my absence and the ‘clear break from all Union activity’ was reluctantly in accordance with the criterias given to me.

    Regards,
    Ary Sharif

  5. Vikrant Shanbhag says:

    This article seems to be more about people complaining due to jealousy because of losing in the election rather than criticizing Ary’s study leave. Dan Derricott is really not able to make his point here he is absolutely complaining everything about Ary from his photography job to him not representing the students at high levels without any backing to his claims, it’s really clear that loosing the election has really got him and he will constantly complain no matter what. And if his leave is clear as per the HR policies and permitted by the sabbatical officer comments from Phil Krstic is absolutely irrelevant of Ary mixing student life with president responsibilities. SU council should be more about discussing the welfare of the students and not about entertaining complaints of lost candidates due to jealousy. Bad people say bad things all the time.

    This article is a perfect example of irresponsible journalism. The power is been clearly misused by updating articles without even trying to investigate the facts. Why wasn’t Ary given a chance to justify before the article was updated, when the entire article is about him? Why does he have to do it in the comments? I believe the editor really owes an apology to Ary for such behaviour and hope that at least the university press will behave more responsible in future.

  6. Regarding your complaints against the article: this article is an accurate report of a public meeting for students. There is nothing irresponsible about that.

    If Ary Sharif wanted to respond to the concerns raised by students then there were multiple opportunities and outlets for that. If he wishes to do so through the website comments as he is perfectly allowed to, then providing it doesn’t break our house rules, we’ll publish it as we did so here.

    Jonathan Cresswell
    Editor, The Linc