GRACE FLETCHER HALL resigned from the post of YUSU Women’s Officer on Wednesday, in the midst of controversy over proposed changes to the SU constitution.
Her resignation automatically means the resignation of joint officers Bex Emery and Becky Tichband.
The ex-Women’s Officer, who had put up posters around campus encouraging students to vote against the changes, resigned at the Union’s Executive Committee Meeting on Wednesday after Micky Armstrong, the SU President, threatened to propose a vote of no confidence against her unless she called a halt to her campaign.
Fletcher Hall explained in an interview the day after her resignation that she opposes the constitution, which removes all Equality Officers from the Union’s Executive Committee, primarily on the grounds that it will reduce the representation of women and minority groups at the SU. She also expressed concerns about the fact that the changes allow for sabbatical officers to stand for a second term.
The ex-Women’s Officer commented that, despite promises of “lots and lots of consultancy”, the changes are being “rushed through”, adding “they want it done in time for the SU elections”. The revised constitution, which was released in week two, will be discussed at the Union General Meeting next Tuesday. Online voting will take place in week five.
Fletcher Hall told Nouse that the Women’s Officers had attended meetings with the President and Services Officer to discuss their objections to the changes last week, but reached no agreement. Following a discussion at Women’s Committee, they informed Armstrong that they intended to campaign against the changes, to which he initially made no objection.
However, Fletcher-Hall claims the President later threatened a vote of no confidence against her (which he denies) unless she stopped the campaign, claiming that it is illegal and unconstitutional to protest publicly against an organisation of which one is a trustee. Despite saying at the ECM “I don’t agree with Micky’s interpretation of the law”, Fletcher Hall chose to resign her position.
Armstrong said on Thursday that he was “disappointed” that the ex-Women’s Officer had decided to resign, but that he understood their differences on the matter were fundamental. In response to the claim that the changes had being rushed through Executive Committee, he said “I thought two weeks was quite a long time”. The President claimed that the changes will increase representation of minority groups, while commenting, “certain people are presenting it differently”, adding “that’s what makes me angry”.
According to a recent SU press release, “the current Executive Committee will be expanded and converted into a Union Senate [on which Equality Officers will have a place]. With increased participation, this body will make all moral and ethical decisions, and will set the direction of the Union. The Executive Committee is to be streamlined into a management body.”
Fletcher Hall said on Thursday “Exec. will be about making managerial decisions and not representing welfare [but] if they are not going to be making decisions which represent the student body then what the hell are they there for?”
Responding to concern over the provision for sabbatical officers to stand twice, Armstrong said “this isn’t something I’ve done just to give myself a job [but] I won’t rule anything out”. He said that the changes would bring the SU into line with the Education Act, which states that sabbatical officers should not stand for longer than two terms.
A by-election will be held in week six to replace the resigning officers. Until then, Neil Barnes, the Education and Welfare Officer, will take on their workload.