A panel made up of two university staff members and an unelected student trustee (Will Miéville-Hawkins), yesterday rejected a call for a “vote of no confidence” in the President to be debated at Guild Council. The impetus for this call was based on the President’s attack on a student (Simon Furse) following a recent protest against the Government White Paper and the changes being made at this particular university. For Marks actions Simon now faces expulsion at a misconduct board next Wednesday. The “no confidence” motion was called by large numbers of student councillors who demanded a democratic debate to discuss the ethics of the president’s actions.
The fact that an unelected board of trustees effectively vetoed the debate and that Mark has been shielded from any real scrutiny by students reflects incredibly badly on the Guild. It is clear at present students have no real ability to meaningfully hold their officers to account.
The grounds of the veto are suspiciously weak. For example the point on Simon’s disciplinary was rejected due the “Panel” being “unable to establish reasonable evidence of a prima facie case in respect of bullet points 5, 6 and 10* which are included below. Ludicrously, by lack of “prima facie” evidence, they meant they could not get hold of a copy of the President’s witness testimony to verify the points. Considering that the Guild obviously has a copy as it was written by the President and has subsequently circulated in the public domain since January 10th, it would have not have been difficult for the panel to get a copy to “verify” the evidence.
Whatever your views on Mark Harrop’s actions, we hope students will unite and fight for a more democratic Guild and the right to hold their officer team to account.
Points 5& 6 were deleted as the pannel was not given a a copy of Marks Witness statement, it would have been ludicrouly easy for the pannel to get hold of a copy as the guild president had one and it was in the public domain.
point 10 was reject as it is was not a “fact” but rather a statement of belief… which is a sort of OK thing to do, but why then reject the entire motion?
5. We believe that it was on the basis of the statement given by Mark Harrop to the University that Simon Furse is now subject to a University disciplinary committee and, further, that Mark Harrop knew that in identifying Simon Furse to the University authorities he was placing him at risk of serious disciplinary charges, possibly resulting in his expulsion from the University.
6. The statement in hand is clearly a ‘witness statement’ (and is described as such) for the purposes of a possible disciplinary investigation against Simon Furse as:
o He does not mention any other person by name in his statement except University staff and Guild Officers.
o He states at the end:
“If this case is referred to a College Misconduct Committee subject to availability I am willing to attend as a witness, but state the political sensitivity that comes with a Student Officer in a situation like this.”
o The way in which Mark Harrop dismisses Simon Furse’s claims of assault against a member of University staff which involved him being punched three times in the face. Mark Harrop dismisses these claims out of hand, not on the outcome of any police or university investigation into the matter, but due to it not ‘being mentioned’ by any ‘protesters’ he spoke to the next day. He describes it as a ‘false allegation’.
* Since this statement being made public by Simon Furse (who received it as part of the disciplinary process) Mark Harrop has ‘withdrawn’ it due to ‘areas of concern’, claiming that its meaning may have been ‘misconstrued’. However we do not feel that this changes the seriousness of his conduct, rather we believe this was motivated by pure self-interest evidenced by the non-conciliatory nature of the statement.
10. We believe that the President placed his personal prejudices and political beliefs before the welfare of a registered student and full member of the Guild of Students in identifying and portraying Simon Furse to the University authorities in this way. We believe this represents serious and gross mis-conduct on the part of Mark Harrop in his role both as President and Trustee of the Guild.