THE ‘ASK YUSU’ facility on the SU website is being used to harass SU Officials, the Union’s Executive Committee heard last month.
Micky Armstrong, the SU President, told the committee that the some of the questions being asked were “ridiculous” and amounted to “personal harassment”.
James Flinders, the outgoing president of the Halifax College Students’ Association, was particularly aggrieved. He proposed that the anonymity of those harassing officers should not be protected, and that they should be barred from asking questions, but this motion was rejected by a majority vote.
Flinders has been subject to particularly high levels of criticism through the forum-style web facility. He was asked repeatedly by one anonymous student about his decision to alter the constitution of Halifax College from a JCRC to a HCSA, and his own job title from “Chair” to “President”. This move was described as an “ego trip” by the student, who argued that the real reason for the changes was “vanity”.
Flinders was also asked “Why does no-one like Halifax College?” and “Do you like sausages?” which he took to be a ‘covert reference to the fact that [he is] gay’.
He said that the treatment he had received through Ask YUSU had formed part of the reason for his deciding not to stand again as President of the HCSA, and described the questions he was asked as “stupid” and ‘unhealthy”. He advised those asking them to “find a hobby, or get some help”.
Chris Wiggin, the SU Communications Officer, was also subject to what he described as “inappropriate or irrelevant” questioning. One student asked “Why does everyone hate you?” while another asked whether Wiggin was “allowed to run for LGBT officer”. The Communications Officer described those asking such questions as “idiots”, and said they “should be ashamed”.
Chris came in for further criticism over his role in the new E-voting scheme which has yet to take off around campus. An anonymous student called his publicity efforts “pretty shocking”.
The Racial Equality Officers, Robert Xu and Pierson Xie, were asked if they would be against the setting up of a student BNP society on campus, in which tey replied with a unquestionable “yes”. While Colin Hindson, the outgoing Chair of Goodricke, was asked “How many of your JCRC have you slept with?”.
The Executive Committee rejected the motion to trace and bar those asking such questions, on the grounds that many of the questions asked are confidential. Micky Armstrong, who has also been subjected to written abuse said that it was important to keep a balance between the welfare of Officers and their accountability to students.
However, Nat Thwaites-McGowan, the SU services officer, took a firmer stance; making it clear that Ask YUSU was set up to make students able to ask questions of Executive Officers, not to ask personal questions about individuals.
It was recommended by the Committee that Officers should ignore questions that are “irrelevant to their position” and report them to the Communications Officer for deletion. But with the questions still remaining on the board weeks after the first problems it may be only a matter of time before other students follow suit.