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?”
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.Tweet