YUSU sabbatical officers have claimed that a game of “students’ bingo” devised by them was “only a joke” and was never intended to be carried out, amidst accusations of “inappropriate and compromising behaviour” by student and University representatives.
Rich Croker, SU President, has confirmed that several sabbatical officers were involved in drawing up a bingo card for the two then single sabbs, Amy Woods and Ben Griffiths, aimed at “pulling” students from various courses, colleges, societies and years, in a variety of locations such as at a campus event or in Ziggy’s, during Freshers’ Week.
Croker acknowledged that, while the “joke” was not specifically aimed at freshers, they were not excluded from the categories. Micky Armstrong, the former YUSU President, is also alleged to have been involved.
Sam Marsden, a University Welfare Advisor, spoke out on Friday against the actions of the sabbatical officers involved: “As a welfare advisor I can appreciate how comments like that would upset people: It’s not constructive in terms of building good relationships with students, or as a demonstration of how the SU thinks of its freshers. Sometimes you do things that you think are a joke without thinking about the consequences, but at the end of the day you have to take your role seriously.”
An anonymous JCRC Welfare Officer said: “I believe that the bingo card made was intended to be fun, but it’s a sad time when upper echelons of YUSU feel it appropriate to pray on the vunerability of students upon their arrival in a new place.”
When questioned, Griffiths claimed that no card was made, but added “it was being bantered around during Freshers’ Week that this is the perfect time to, you know, as it were… it was almost like a matchmaking thing, but nothing ever came out of it.”
Matt Burton, Goodricke JCRC Chair, claimed that the game was “a joke”. He said: “Obviously abusing your position for a game is wrong, but I think it was never carried out. It was meant as a joke, but I guess it’s fallen flat on its face.”
Woods said “it’s a standing joke that you can pull in Freshers’ Week, but I would never ever do anything like that… I have a fair background in welfare things, and no-one has done anything inappropriate in my book.”
The YUSU Academic and Welfare Officer, Amy Foxton, was unwilling to condemn the situation, claiming that it had been “blown out of proportion”. She said: “to say that there is a culture of inappropriateness is completely unjustified with our sabbatical team this year. If there was anything that I did feel was inappropriate or unnecessary I would have stepped in with my welfare hat on and said no guys, don’t do this, but nothing did happen.”
Dave Jones, Derwent JCR Chair said: “It was just a joke, just a stupid jokey gesture. It wasn’t as if the card was passed on to all the lads; Amy [Woods] was involved as well. It was tongue in cheek. They’re stupid enough to run for an SU position but they’re not that stupid.”
When asked what the implications of freshers hearing about the bingo game might be, Griffiths replied: “It was supposed to be between the six of us, because obviously we’re really good friends, so the welfare concerns it brings up put us in a very compromising position. If we’re having to work with students we don’t know then something like that would be fairly concerning, and detrimental to the hard work we do.”
Rich Croker, the SU President, said: “Any situation where anyone’s welfare is placed in jeopardy I would not consider funny. The fact that it was just a joke about two sabbs who were single, at the time was funny to us.” Croker claimed that the current sabbatical team are the “most clean-cut in years” in terms of sleeping with freshers, claiming: “I think we’re the only sabbs who haven’t.”