YUSU criticised over decision to remove charity from RAG beneficiary ballot

YUSU have come under criticism for their decision to remove the York Pregnancy Crisis Service, ‘Reflect’, from this year’s RAG beneficiary ballot

YUSU have come under criticism from charities involved in this year’s RAG beneficiary elections following their decision to remove York Pregnancy Crisis Service, ‘Reflect’, from the ballot.

In a decision made by the election’s returning officer, YUSU Democracy and Services Officer Lewis Bretts, Reflect – a pregnancy counselling service – were deemed to be in contravention of Union policy “to actively campaign in support of the pro-choice lobby… [and] to present the arguments for choice at all times”.

Emily Ross-Smith, Centre Coordinator for Reflect York, argued that the decision stemmed from “short-sightedness and poor communication on [YUSU]’s part”, claiming that at no point in the decision making process were Reflect contacted to clarify the charity’s position regarding the provision of abortion services. Reflect’s mandate includes counselling for women, and their partners, who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy; they provide advice about abortion, adoption and parenting, and offer links with appropriate healthcare providers.

Brett’s claimed his concern regarding Reflect stemmed from the organisations’ affiliation with CareConfidential – a Christian charity who aim “to provide access to pre and post-abortion counselling and support for birth mothers.” Reflect claim to share “values and ethos” with the Christian group, but Ross-Smith was keen to emphasise that Reflect’s affiliation is limited to agreeing with CareConfidential’s duty of care statement, and stressed that Reflect are a completely autonomous and non-political organisation.

CareConfidential state on their website that their relationship with centres such as Reflect is minimal, maintaining that each affiliate “is accountable to and governed by its own trustees or management board. CareConfidential does not financially support any centre.”

In his decision to remove Reflect from the ballot, Bretts cited in his officer’s blog a 2007 study that briefly criticised CareConfidential’s parent organisation, among others, for incorrectly repeating the suggestion that abortion can contribute to increased risk of breast cancer. The information has since been removed from the CARE website.

The charity have not been returned to the RAG Beneficiary Ballot, which effectively ensures that they will not secure enough votes to win election. Ross-Smith has said that she accepts that Reflect will not be returned to the ballot, and maintains that the main problem is now the ongoing damage being done to the charity’s reputation due to the claims made in Bretts’ officer blog, which remains on the YUSU website.

“I do worry that now that the blog has gone up that people are going to think the wrong thing,” she commented. “When I actually spoke to Lewis he said that he didn’t have a problem with us, and what he saw from our website and what we offer isn’t an issue.  But I feel that, because he has this on the [YUSU] website that students who don’t know us are going to think that this information is correct, and assume that we’re forcing them to do things, or not to do things, when that’s just not our aim or desire at all.”

The controversy comes in the wake of general criticism of the poor organisation of the RAG elections. Technical problems meant that the start of the election had to be postponed from Monday to Wednesday, and planning errors lead the time allotted for a beneficiary fair on Thursday being halved. Charities received no official information from YUSU about the timings or location of the fair, or what promotional material was acceptable. This left some stalls using only homemade material, while poor publicity did little to counter student apathy and resulted in a low turnout on the day.

Alice Mumby, the student charity representative for Applefields Schools commented on the situation: “I hope, despite all of the problems and confusion, it doesn’t put students off from voting. It can be difficult to drum up interest without some of these obstacles, especially for the local charities who perhaps are unheard of.”

Ross-Smith and Reflect were not informed of their ineligibility until they set up their stall at Wednesday’s Beneficiary Fair, a move Ross-Smith condemned as “unprofessional.”

“It’s difficult when they didn’t even tell us that we weren’t going to be voted for, it’s not on,” she commented after the event. “If they’re going to get outside organisations in, and invite delegates from international charities they need to adopt a more professional approach, it’s got to be much better prepared.”

Voting for the RAG Beneficiaries remains open until midday Wednesday, week 3.

93 comments

  1. I don’t think it takes a mastermind to see that Reflect is quite clearly pro-life; the founder of Reflect has said that abortion has “wrecked” peoples’ lives, and that Reflect is about getting “the right message across to women”

    http://www.care.org.uk/Publisher/File.aspx?id=19535
    (page 6)

  2. Can’t vote, use a campus pc it says. What do distance learners do?

  3. This is disgusting. Reflect provide a valuable service that has helped many women in problems within an area of the utmost sensitivity. YUSU should not be playing the moral-high ground game with such a serious issue.

    Ross-Smith’s declaration of “short-sightedness” is an understatement.

  4. Of course abortion wrecks peoples’ lives – but so does an unwanted pregnancy.

    Unless you’re narrow-minded enough to think that a child only comes into being once actually born (despite the fact that they have grown all of their internal organs by 8 weeks into pregnency), abortion doesn’t just wreck the lives of some people – it also ends the lives of others.

  5. 25 Oct ’09 at 1:43 pm

    we've made our bed...

    See:http://www.yusu.org/motion/142

    note ‘resolves i)’

    It’s a democractic organisation and policy is policy. Do you really want the officers deciding policy based on what they think? …well tough because they can’t anyway.YUSU have done the right thing. The charity would be contrary to active policy that the union holds, it’s not saying the charity is bad or that other people can’t fundraise for it or that students can’t as students. It’s saying that within the organisation it cannot happen because students have already voted for explicitly pro-choice.

  6. What “we’ve made our bed” said

    “At anon”, you’ve rather missed the point. Your disregard for the rights of the mother, and my views on where life start, are irrelevant. The quote I used displayed that Reflect are pro-life, and we have clear policy mandating YUSU to support the pro-choice lobby. End of.

    Well done to Lewis for taking this difficult decision with integrity

  7. I would point to the resource linked to above and suggest that people read the page 6 article about the founding of the charity with the knowledge, as they read it, that the person writing the article is expressly pro-life.

    Gemma, it seems, didn’t quote her as saying that she felt ‘trapped’, etc. That abortion itself was wrong. There are plenty of people – and I know some – that are forced by close family members or partners to have an abortion that they don’t want. The one incidence of “wrecked” life in the article is a *man’s* life and it doesn’t say that all are wrecked. Indeed her reactions throughout seem that of someone who is personally pro-life but wishes to keep the charity pro-choice.

    Especially towards the end; “what would Jesus do? … He wouldn’t rebuke the woman. He wouldn’t condemn her. He would just love her.” That doesn’t sound like the words of a pro-life activist… and if that’s the only evidence that you have, I am sure that you can’t really believe it yourself!

    And regardless, the woman doesn’t appear to be in charge any more so maybe that’s a sign that Reflect has moved on from its origins and is now just an extremely caring charity seeking to IMPROVE pro-CHOICE facilities in the city? How is a charity offering abortion support or counselling pro-life? And who reported the situation to YUSU when there wasn’t any real evidence?!

  8. 25 Oct ’09 at 10:49 pm

    Well done YUSU

    Reflect are linked to Care Confidential. Care Confidential’s website encourages women to have their unwanted children adopted rather than aborted, saying that “Through adoption, you can provide your child with both a father and a mother.” They are not explicitly pro-life, but are not as pro-choice as I imagine the YUSU constitution demands. Therefore, Reflect could not be chosen. Individual student’s alliances aside. I’m sure any student is welcome to raise funds for either charity on campus, but YUSU would be alligning themselves to a group that would potentially alienate many people… Not to mention that a fair few wouldn’t sponser RAG anymore! I wouldn’t…

  9. 25 Oct ’09 at 11:56 pm

    The first Anon

    “There are plenty of people – and I know some – that are forced by close family members or partners to have an abortion that they don’t want”

    Hence the term pro-*choice*, duh

    “The one incidence of “wrecked” life in the article is a *man’s* life”

    So? The whole article overwhelmingly presents abortion in a negative light and a negative light *only*, the “wrecked” comment is just an example of that

    ““what would Jesus do? … He wouldn’t rebuke the woman. He wouldn’t condemn her. He would just love her.” That doesn’t sound like the words of a pro-life activist”

    Really?! To me, it sounds like someone with their own agenda, even if it’s dessed up all lovey-dovey and fluffy

  10. Re: Well done YUSU
    It would be interesting to know the “many people” you refer to, that would be “alienated” by a charity that sees both men and women, without discrimination, to listen to them and their situation. They offer unbiased advice and support and answer any questions, concerning all of the options that are currently legally available, if the individual wants to discuss them. Helping people to see that they do have a choice, if not a difficult one, where often many people can feel like they don’t. With the support Reflect offer, individuals see they are not alone and that they do have time to properly consider what THEY want to do, which will help them to better cope with whatever decision they feel they have to/want to make.

    Reflect, as a service, does not seem to be anything BUT FOR people having true choice.

  11. 26 Oct ’09 at 6:59 am

    Anonymous Massive!

    Anonymous Massive! feels much better educated and informed by the words of the “anon” at 2.35 (unfortunately not Massive!) – clearly not from a Reflect staff member, clearly reliant on objective facts, and clearly taking into account the evidence discussed above!

    /Anonymous Massive! stylee sarcasm

  12. 26 Oct ’09 at 1:42 pm

    Ruth Marshall

    I don’t understand?????

  13. 26 Oct ’09 at 1:44 pm

    Charlene Ward

    I like Australia

  14. YUSU’s policy is to reflect the view of their members- the students of the Union. A vote on RAG charities should be just that. Students nominate, students vote. If the outcome of the vote contradicts YUSU policy, perhaps it should look at the legitimacy of that policy in the first place, particularly when more than 1/3 of current students haven’t had a say on this policy in the first place.

    Having a stance on ‘abortion’ isn’t something that a Student Union should necessarily be doing. On the other hand, giving students a free and uncensored vote on RAG charities is something that should go without saying (one would have thought). It appears that Lewis’ decision has been driven by fear of the extreme-left, anti-abortion lobby rather than an objective interpretation of the charity and the YUSU constitution.

  15. “It appears that Lewis’ decision has been driven by fear of the extreme-left, anti-abortion lobby rather than an objective interpretation of the charity and the YUSU constitution.”

    Evidence?

  16. “In his decision to remove Reflect from the ballot, Bretts cited in his officer’s blog a 2007 study that briefly criticised CareConfidential’s parent organisation, among others, for incorrectly repeating the suggestion that abortion can contribute to increased risk of breast cancer. The information has since been removed from the CARE website.”

    I feel that this is evidence. Clearly this decision to prevent students from making the choice on a particular charity has been the result of the fear that these frankly tenuous links to some other organisation might pi*s off a certain group of individuals; that is the crux of this article for goodness sake: that choosing this charity might breach current union policy on abortion (an issue I don’t think the Union should have a set policy on).

    The least Lewis should have done was to allow the students to vote for their charity without the big, centralised YUSU clique sticking their oar in and removing a choice from the list.

  17. “criticised CareConfidential’s parent organisation, AMONG OTHERS, for incorrectly repeating the suggestion that abortion can contribute to increased risk of breast cancer. The information has since been removed from the CARE website.

    The charity have not been returned to the RAG Beneficiary Ballot”

    How the hell can you say ‘among others’ and then say that the charity still hasn’t been returned despite this being rectified? Really poor reasoning and journalism.

    “If the outcome of the vote contradicts YUSU policy, perhaps it should look at the legitimacy of that policy in the first place, particularly when more than 1/3 of current students haven’t had a say on this policy in the first place.” Read a book; that isn’t how politics works. If YUSU, or a government, wants to pass a referendum to decide whether all black people should be killed, we won’t “wait and see” what people vote; it’s just unconstitutional from the very beginning.

    I don’t care what Reflect claim they do. If the BNP claims to love foreigners, I’d still rather look at their history before I make up my own mind. Just do a quick search online before you defend them.

    They’re affiliated to CareConfidential, which belongs to Care. Fair enough if they don’t receive any money, but then why get affiliated at all? Again, if anything would be affiliated to the BNP, with or without financial support, I would be very cautious. If they are really pro-choice, they should unaffiliate themselves and openly criticise Care’s position.

    So, here are the results on a quick google search on Care…

    British parliament website:
    “Care Confidential does not refer women for abortion and is not on the Department of Health Register of Pregnancy Advice Bureaux.” This is also where it was discussed that they claimed that abortion is linked to breast cancer, despite the evidence.

    And who said they don’t anymore..?
    http://www.careconfidential.com/SearchResults.aspx?Query=cancer

    Search for ‘Care’ on here:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/nov/25/anti-abortion-schools

    They’re also anti-gay:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/prosection-28-christians-investigated-over-breach-of-charity-law-715646.html
    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/mp-says-charity-has-shown-it-is-antigay-712285.html

    Subject to charity commission enquiry:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-rightwing-christian-group-pays-for-commons-researchers-802607.html
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/prolife-charity-workers-attend-the-speakers-private-reception-805231.html

    And also, like the first Anon here suggested, read http://www.care.org.uk/Publisher/File.aspx?id=19535 (page 6 is on reflect) which I find really quite scary.

    So next time before you write an article like this, or even comment on it, learn how to use Google…

  18. Why are you referencing articles from nine years ago? Incidentally, the BNP comparisons are laughable and you might want to read more widely than those bastions of leftist journalism, The Independent and Guardian.

    So, because you don’t like them, you don’t think that students should have to opportunity to vote for them? What gives a pretentious and overly opinionated individual like yourself the right to decide that, based on ideas you happen not to like, students should have a charity removed from a ballot paper? If you don’t want it as a RAG beneficiary, then don’t fuc**ng vote for it!

    This looks bad for YUSU; top-down decision imposed on the students by a distant body. What are the freshers going to think of this? The same as all us other students think: that YUSU is yet again pandering to the left-wing ideas that continue to the organisation. They shouldn’t even have a policy on abortion- it should represent the views of each individual on a case-by-case basis.

  19. 26 Oct ’09 at 4:49 pm

    Samuel Norman Seaborn

    “This looks bad for YUSU; top-down decision imposed on the students by a distant body”

    What a load of rubbish. First of all, the policy the charity contradicts is one implemented by a UGM – a cross campus ballot.

    Secondly, the decision to refer it to the returning officer was made by Rules and Revision subcommittee – a body made up of elected student representatives.

    And finally, the Returning Officer in question was elected into position by over a thousand students.

  20. Kudos to you AA! If you put as much effort into your uni course as replying to Nouse articles you are guaranteed a first! ;-)

    But seriously, to the person who was struggling to get on, try visiting http://www.york.ac.uk/services/cserv/net/vpn/ to simulate a connection to a campus PC. But you shouldn’t really have any difficulties, you should just be able to go to http://www.yusu.org/vote. That’s what I did. But I know there have been plenty of technical hitches last week.

    My personal opinion on the wider matter of YUSU (which may be unpopular) but is that it is extended beyond it’s remit in many cases (i.e. enforcing fair trade on campus, surely that should be up to individual students rather than the majority of the student body?). The way to change this is by raising a YUSU motion, the instructions are on the YUSU website!

    Regardless though, final year beckons and so need to spend more time doing my course and less time debating the ins and outs of student politics.

  21. There aren’t just articles from 9 years ago. And Care have neither answered to (nor apologised for) any of those since, so they are still as relevant today. And yes, it is obviously much easier to dismiss those newspapers out of hand because “you happen not to like” them, rather than actually address any of the things mentioned. And there’s links from the parliament and Care itself too.

    “So, because you don’t like them, you don’t think that students should have to opportunity to vote for them?”. No. Because I don’t like them, I wouldn’t vote for them. But because they are against union policy (and anti-scientific and anti-gay), I don’t think they should be allowed to be nominated.

    “If you don’t want it as a RAG beneficiary, then don’t fuc**ng vote for it!”
    Mmh… If you *do* want it as a RAG beneficiary then propose a motion to change union policy, get it passed, and then you can ‘fuc**ng vote for it’. In the meantime, nobody cares what you think. We just need to prove they’re against union policy, which has already been done.

    “They shouldn’t even have a policy on abortion”. Yeah, they shouldn’t have an opinion on supporting something completely unscientific either. Nor should they have an opinion on evolution. Or gravity. Let’s just decide on a case-by-case basis…

  22. “They shouldn’t even have a policy on abortion- it should represent the views of each individual on a case-by-case basis.”

    I’m fairly sure that’s the point of the motion – to make sure every student does indeed have a choice for themselves. I *think* the motion made an emergency fund available for people who had unplanned pregnancies to support them in whatever decision they make.

    ” The way to change this is by raising a YUSU motion, the instructions are on the YUSU website!”

    I don’t think they are any more, as the new sabb team, in their infinite wisdom, decided that none of the old content (including the constitution, UGM info, policy, etc) was ported over to the new site, and we’ve been waiting for the new “Under Construction” stuff to go down for like 2 months now.

    There’s also the issue of the fact that the constitution actually dictates that the website has certain features (in particular, the ‘Ask YUSU’ feature which isn’t there any more, even though it’s still in the constitution), so the current website is actually unconstitutional.

    It’s a complete fuck up.

  23. Let’s put aside our person opinions on abortion, religion, left/right wing politics; the issue is that Reflect are affiliated with this other charity. If Reflect were to remove this affiliation would the SU be willing to reinstate them to the ballot and allow the student body to voice its own opinion? Bretts failed to contact Ross-Smith on this issue and instead chose to remove Reflect from the Ballot providing no reasoning before hand. If he had done, she may have been able to re-evaluate the charities stance and make amendments. She has only recently become the charity co-ordinator and has many changes to make.

    The role of a Student Union is to provide a service to the students of that University; a student body that is diverse, multinational and with the right to possess individual and religious beliefs. The Union should not have a policy on Abortion, whether it be Pro-Choice or Pro-Life; it is not for the Union to decide, it for the student body. Whose opinions and participants evolve and change daily.

    Citing articles from previous years, quoting the former charity co-ordinator’s beliefs and not consulting with the charity at its present state all seem fairly irresponsible of a Student Union.

    Pro Choice is about the individual, people presume that just because you’re pro-choice you want to abort your baby. People just want to know that they have a choice, that there are options and support open to them.

    Reflect offer advice and support to both men and women when facing unplanned pregnancies, miscarriages and provide post-abortion counselling; no where do the current administration state that they hope to encourage those who seek the help of Reflect to keep their pregnancy; they merely hope to aid the inidividual(s) and provide options and answers.

    RAG week is about raising and giving; an act of selflessness and charity. For such an organisation to condemn those who are doing so, regardless of person beliefs, is contradictory to the very nature of RAG.

    Allow the student body to vote for whomever they so chose; if Reflect does poorly in the polls, that is the choice of the Student, not it’s Union.

  24. 26 Oct ’09 at 7:02 pm

    Samuel Norman Seaborn

    “The role of a Student Union is to provide a service to the students of that University”

    No it’s not.

    The primary role of the Students’ Union is to represent it’s members, and act according to their wishes. The UGM motion that makes YUSU pro-choice is an example of just that: *democratic* decision making.

  25. Ellie, it took me a few minutes to find this information, and it seems to be well known what Care and CareConfidential stand for.

    Surely if you are the charity’s coordinator, you would either know about it or have to find out asap. So as I said, if they disagree, they should have left that group immediately, criticise it openly and apologise for their previous affiliation. If they agree… well there you go. If they don’t care, that’s just as bad.

    To use the same example as before (it’s beyond the point here whether I misrepresent them or not): If a charity would be affiliated to the BNP, I would of course just disregard them, not ask them to ‘make amendments’!

  26. These charities, whether you agree with their religious backgrounds or not, exist to help those who want them. Those that go to CareConfidential are just as much utilising their ability to make a choice as those of you who condemn them.

    How can make a comparison to the BNP? That is ridiculous.

    The BNP is a far right, facist political organisation that has absolutely nothing to do with this topic at all. Make as many outrageous comparisons as you so wish, it does not make them at all relevant.

    Reflect is a counselling service, for those people who are experiencing difficult times in their lives. Victims of rape and of miscarriage and those who have found themselves unexpectedly pregant can go there for advice and for help. For the YUSU to take from that and instead to highlight an affiliation that although disagreeable to some, is irrelevant to the role of the charity is unjust.

  27. He wasn’t comparing Reflect to the BNP anywhere. It’s called an analogy, to help illustrate the problem.

    But someone was saying that they aren’t as bad or racist as he had claimed, which is probably why he said “it’s beyond the point here whether I misrepresent them or not”…

  28. 26 Oct ’09 at 10:40 pm

    Samuel Norman Seaborn

    “For the YUSU to take from that and instead to highlight an affiliation that although disagreeable to some, is irrelevant to the role of the charity is unjust.”

    Ellie, the affiliation is disagreeable to the people who democratically voted for a motion to make YUSU take a pro-choice position.

    If you have a problem, it is with democracy.

  29. I remember the words of Jesus in the Gospels, when some people were stopping the mothers from bringing them to him. He said “Let the little children come to me and do not stop them, for of such is the Kingdom of heaven…Unless you become as one of these you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”

    Our daughter-in-law would love children, but at present cannot – she took an overdose as a result, but fortunately survived. Then she went for couselling, and was greatly helped. People don’t need to suffer alone, as there are people out there who can help. We should let them help, as it saves great anguish in such traumatic times. There is a saying “A trouble shared is a trouble halved.”

  30. “I remember the words of Jesus in the Gospels”

    When did York become goddamn Alabama for crying out?

  31. When I was Langwith college welfare rep 2 years ago, Reflect managed to get an email sent round to college welfare reps encouraging us to direct students who came to use towards their service. They presented themselves as completely neutral. They would talk people through their options in an open, non-directive way:

    “We aim to provide accurate information about their options and also what help is available to them that is specific to their situation.”

    It took a fair bit of digging on their website to work out that they were affiliated to a national organisation with a pro-life ethos. If you look at CareConfidential’s website, it is very clear that they are not neutral. They have a clear idea of what they think a woman with an unplanned pregnancy should do. For example the “people’s stories” section they have testimonials from someone who chose to keep their child, from someone who gave up their child for adoption and from someone who had an abortion and has “regretted it every day since then”:

    http://www.careconfidential.com/PeoplesStories.aspx

    If they were impartial, one would expect them to present positive and negative experiences from both sides. And if they are not impartial, I feel that they should be more clear about their allegiances from the outset. Reflect York also needs to clarify their position and their relationship with CareConfidential. In their quote to Nouse they distance themselves from Care, but they are listed on CareConfidential’s website and apparently have the email address [email protected]

    http://www.careconfidential.com/York/Default.aspx

    Reflect told us in the email that they “have already had York Univesity students access us and we know many more face such difficult crisis pregnancy situations”.

    They are therefore not simply offering their services to the wider community, but are also actively targeting York students. But YUSU, which has a responsibility towards those students who use its welfare services, simply does not know what kind of standard of service Reflect offers. According to their website Reflect is “run by volunteers who are trained in crisis pregnancy counselling”. What they do not say, is who they have been trained by, whether they hold any qualifications, or whether they as an organisation are accountable to anyone. According to Nouse they are signed up to CareConfidential’s duty of care statement, but are only “accountable to and governed by its own trustees or management board”. So if they’re not even accountable to CareConfidential I guess YUSU is supposed to just trust that their trustees and volunteers know what they’re doing and aren’t going to try and sway students in any one particular direction.

    Even without the UGM policy in support of the pro-choice lobby, it is problematic for YUSU to support a charity through RAG which offers welfare services to students, but which YUSU cannot be sure acts impartially or in the interests of student welfare.

  32. All of this serves as a reminder of how difficult unplanned pregnancies are. I think it’s therefore worth reminding students that YUSU’s welfare services are available to them, as are the services provided by the university’s Student Support Services.

    For information about contacting and using these services, see

    http://www.yusu.org/welfare

    http://www.york.ac.uk/opendoor/students/

  33. To Matt and everybody else…

    “Care Confidential does not refer women for abortion and is not on the Department of Health Register of Pregnancy Advice Bureaux.”

    However Reflect *does* refer women for abortion. Indeed there isn’t any Pregnancy Advice Bureaux in York and the NHS drop-in centre here refers people to Reflect. It is a misplaced affiliation of theirs that they should drop. Care Confidential are a terrible organisation and Reflect are a benevolent (albeit inexperienced) organisation – just because they affiliated to a national pregnancy service without thoroughly researching its past doesn’t make it “pro-life”, especially if they actively forward people to abortion clinics. Surely that’s not contradictory to the UGM at all?

  34. Regardless of who gets the most votes, the real winner here is democracy. I *love* democracy.

    Note by moderator: This probably isn’t Tommy Flynn

  35. Regardless of who gets the most votes, the real winner here is justice. I *love* justice.

    Note by moderator: This probably isn’t Jamie Tyler

  36. Regardless of who gets the most votes, the real winner here is moderation. I *love* moderating.

    Note by moderator: This probably isn’t Moderator

  37. 28 Oct ’09 at 7:26 pm

    Nick Scarlett

    Regardless of who gets the most votes, the real winner here is lamp. I *love* lamp.

    Note by moderator: This probably isn’t Nick Scarlett

  38. Do you really love lamp, or are you just saying that because you saw it?

  39. Matt Pallas: you miss the point of people’s objection. Everything you say might be right, but to just scrub a name off of a ballot paper is wrong. Let the students decide. Saying that however, I can understand your own personal reluctance to support this democratic system. It’s not been too successful for you I understand.

  40. Re: Anon

    I think the onus then is on Reflect to clarify their relationship with Care, clarify to whom they are accountable, publicly clarify their stance on abortion, and consider registration with the Department of Health’s Register of Pregnancy Advice Bureaux.

  41. “Everything you say might be right, but to just scrub a name off of a ballot paper is wrong. Let the students decide.”

    The students did decide. In a UGM motion.

  42. I didn’t know that voting in a UGM inadventantly meant voting/not voting for a RAG charity.

    Anyway, half the people at York haven’t gone near a UGM, particularly in the new academic year.

    It’s typical of people like you- the pro-choice, etc. etc. to close the argument down by simply not having a vote or not allowing one rather than having the debate and allowing students to decide. You just want to protect your weak niche-interest UGM majority and leave students who couldn’t give a dam and just want to choose their RAG charity, by the wayside.

  43. >> It’s typical of people like you- the pro-choice, etc. etc. to close the argument down by simply not having a vote or not allowing one rather than having the debate and allowing students to decide

    Yeah, damn that pro-choice lobby for not letting individuals have a choice and instead forcing their opinions on everyone.

  44. “Anyway, half the people at York haven’t gone near a UGM, particularly in the new academic year.”

    And I would suggest the same can be said when the RAG election results are announced. Your argument is entirely self-defeating.

  45. “Yeah, damn that pro-choice lobby for not letting individuals have a choice and instead forcing their opinions on everyone.”

    That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, not even in an ironic capacity. All you ever seem to contribute to a debate is a sarcastic and unhumerous comments.

    Edited by a moderator

  46. Heh, damn for not being a moderator anymore, I’d have loved to have read the unedited comment. Anyway, let me break it down for you.

    You’re condemning the pro-choice lobby for somehow being responsible for YUSU removing Reflect from the ballot paper (as opposed to the more likely cause – either a poor, or cautious, judgement from R&R committee) and therefore removing choice.

    I was pointing out the fallacy in your argument of “pro-choice is removing choice”. I prefer to make such arguments through the medium of sarcasm. Sorry that doesn’t match up to your debating style.

  47. 30 Oct ’09 at 2:15 pm

    nick scarlett

    On a less controversial note – results are announced at 11pm in The Courtyard tomorrow!

    Place your bets…

  48. “The students did decide. In a UGM motion.”
    This is quite a ridiculous argument… so, what is being said is that in a vote in the past, students decided they did not want to support organisations such as Reflect. Therefore, even if now they DO want to vote for one, they cannot. In other words, democratic decisions made in the past ought to be respected, but if the opinion of the public has changed, then nothing can be done. I wonder whether anyone will claim that in this case, we should first revoke the previous UGM resolution… this is just bureaucratic nonsense.

    Similarly, there was this quote earlier, the returning officer was elected by thousands of students… so this makes him infallible? Come on now, let’s be serious. The least he could have done would be to have contacted the charity organizers beforehand to discuss the issue with them.
    A.

    P.S. Out of curiosity, has Bretts installed the fresh fruit stall he promised?

    Comment edited by a moderator

  49. “This is quite a ridiculous argument… so, what is being said is that in a vote in the past, students decided they did not want to support organisations such as Reflect. Therefore, even if now they DO want to vote for one, they cannot.”

    Aris, I see the mauling you took on here over the ISA election fiasco hasn’t stopped you posting statements about democracy that are just wrong.

    When people vote at a UGM they are made aware that policy lasts for 3 years – it’s a constitutional democracy. Once the 3 years pass, they have another chance to decide. It happens quite a bit elsewhere – think elections to the House of Commons.

    Moreover, I never said the returning officer was “infallible”, I was simply stating that since they were an *elected* officer, the argument about it being a top-down “imposed” decision was nonsense.

    Finally, I do believe you’re no longer a student at York – which means the decision really doesn’t affect you. Don’t the University of Cambridge have their own RAG Beneficiary elections for you to comment on?

  50. 31 Oct ’09 at 4:37 pm

    Tobias Ziegler

    Bretts got it right. People are treating the potential RAG beneficiaries as being the same as people standing in the YUSU Officer elections. They are not.

    This is essentially a policy vote on which charities RAG donates its money to. It is a vote which constitutionally holds less weight than a UGM vote. As a UGM vote (made under a constitution where policy is valid for three years unless another UGM revokes it) decided that YUSU holds a pro-choice position, it is silly for YUSU/RAG to donate its funds to a pro-life charity.

    The legal minefield that is created by SUs donating to charities is complicated enough without bringing in potential violations of YUSU policy.

    Oh and who gives a crap about the fruit and veg stall? Lewis has the hardest job in the SU to carry out and his time is better spent dealing with this issues *I know* he is dealing with than selling fruit and veg. Still bitter about your guy losing?

  51. “Moreover, I never said the returning officer was “infallible”, I was simply stating that since they were an *elected* officer, the argument about it being a top-down “imposed” decision was nonsense.”

    So, since the labour government has been elected, we should not protest any of its decision – including top-up fees… very solid logic there.

    “It happens quite a bit elsewhere – think elections to the House of Commons.”
    Again, wrong. If the House of Commons passes a Bill, which is approved by the Queen, then this invalidates any previous Bills that contradict it. Indeed, theoretically, the House of Commons has the right to abolish democracy, if such a Bill is accepted by the Queen. Similarly, if the students vote in favour of supporting an organisation, this should override any previous contradicting motions.

    “Oh and who gives a crap about the fruit and veg stall?”
    I am not bitter for George losing. I do however think that it is unfair, because the only reason Bretts won was admittedly the fact that he was the most visible person on campus. And this was achieved by him moving around with a huge sign promising to place a fruit stall “RIGHT HERE!”. If he does not, then he is breaching his pre-election promises, which opens the way for any student to run a no-confidence motion against him. He ought to have known he would have a very important job to do as an officer, and therefore he should have avoided making promises he did not plan on keeping.
    A.

  52. Aris, as usual you completely misunderstand both points.

    I did not say you can’t protest. Indeed, to debate substantive points is good. The argument I was stating surrounds the idea that the decision was “imposed by a top down structure” – when in fact it was made by an elected official.

    Regarding the House of Commons – I was referring to the election of the representative, not the passage of a Bill. In which case I am right. Again. Plus, the Union works on a written constitution that states policy lasts for 3 years. A constitution that was passed democratically.

    And I think Tobias is correct. You are clearly still bitter. Lewis still has well over 6 months left in office to deliver manifesto pledges.

    Now, please take your poor knowledge of anything to do with democratic decision making to your own student newspaper here: http://www.varsity.co.uk/

  53. With all my respect to everyone, I would appreciate it if you could please stop referring to me during this discussion as I haven’t even expressed an opinion on this issue (for all it’s worth, I completely agree with Lewis).

    All the best,
    George

  54. 2 Nov ’09 at 7:12 pm

    A. Catsambas

    Sam, of course you seem to be right, because you always change your argument following each response I make. You draw a comparison to the Commons, yet when I point out that a democratically passed Bill can be overridden following new legislation, you ignore the point.

    Also, you are suggesting that an elected official cannot, by definition, impose top-down decisions. This is ridiculous – the fact that he has been elected does not mean that his decision was not arbitrary.

    Finally, yes, he may deliver his promise. But for now, he has not. And his campaign was nearly exclusively ran focusing on this stall. If he thought it was a minor point, he should have focused on other issues.
    A.

  55. Aris, I have not changed any arguments following your posts. It is not my fault that you aren’t able to understand them, or in most cases totally misinterpret them!

    The difference between the UK and YUSU (well one relevant difference) is that the latter have a written constitution whilst the former do not. In this form of democracy, the rules codified in the document have primacy over all other decisions – in this case the rule that policy lasts for 3 years. To overturn the decision for YUSU to have a platform on right to choose requires a motion of the same magnitude and methodology – another UGM. A RAG beneficiary election does not have this standing.

    Now really Aris, there surely must be a forum for cambeidge students for you to spam?

  56. Sam, I am tired of this debate – you are very simple minded to have a discussion with.
    I suppose there is a forum for Cambridge students, but here at least, people seem to think a bit more, rather than making points such as “this is written in the constitution, therefore it cannot possibly be wrong, we should not do anything about it”, or “he is an elected official, thus all his policies have the people’s support by definition”.
    A.

    P.S. just to clarify, the UK does not have a well defined written constitution – that is, there is no single document called the UK constitution. Still, there exists a collection of documents that make up the British constitution, such as the Human Rights Act. I suggest you read a bit on UK politics!

  57. Not quite sure I like this slagging off of Aris. Just because we’ve left York doesn’t mean we don’t still feel ties to the place.

  58. Aris – you put quote marks on the following:

    “this is written in the constitution, therefore it cannot possibly be wrong, we should not do anything about it”,

    and

    “he is an elected official, thus all his policies have the people’s support by definition”.

    Yet I never actually said any of these statements. I do hope you’re not accrediting them to me – that would be quite poor academic practice.

    I am not saying a constitution cannot be wrong. I am saying that when people voted for the UGM motion to make YUSU pro choice, they were aware that policy lasted for three years. Therefore the decision can only be repealed by another UGM.

    I also never said an elected official has policies that everyone supports. I was merely making the point that the YUSU returning officer was an elected representative of the students of York, therefore I disagree that it was a “top down decision”.

    P.S. As for a constitution – there are very few of the documents you cite (i.e. the HRA), and in particular, almost nothing regarding procedural elements of democratic decision-making, which is the point I was making.

    P.P.S. Simple minded? I think this is better translated to the following: I’ve picked holes in your points yet again, and you know it.

  59. 3 Nov ’09 at 2:49 pm

    Tobias Ziegler

    UGM vote > RAG beneficiary vote

    YUSU opinion = UGM vote = pro-choice (until policy expires this summer or is replaced)

    Therefore RAG beneficiary can not = pro-life (or ‘anti’ pro-choice)

    Simple enough Aris?

  60. 3 Nov ’09 at 5:26 pm

    A. Catsambas

    Firstly, from what I understand, the charity in question is not even pro-life. It has ties to an organisation that has expressed pro-life sentiments, but it is by no means a group of fanatics.
    Bottom line, if you are going to exclude someone from RAG, good manners dictate that at the very least, you discuss the issue with the person responsible of the charity.
    A.

  61. ‘“Oh and who gives a crap about the fruit and veg stall?”
    I do however think that it is unfair, because the only reason Bretts won was admittedly the fact that he was the most visible person on campus. And this was achieved by him moving around with a huge sign promising to place a fruit stall “RIGHT HERE!”. If he does not, then he is breaching his pre-election promises, which opens the way for any student to run a no-confidence motion against him. He ought to have known he would have a very important job to do as an officer, and therefore he should have avoided making promises he did not plan on keeping.’

    I do think our elected representatives should be held to account when they do not fulfil their promises. I feel though that no confidence votes really should be left for cases where students have no confidence in the officer’s ability to do the job.

    I therefore suggest that if no progress has been made towards a fruit and vegetable stall by election time this academic year, we submit a motion of censure to UGM.

  62. 5 Nov ’09 at 1:30 am

    Stephen Patrick O'Ryan

    I agree with Disgruntled! Lewis Bretts was definately, and still is the most visible person on campus, but not because of his actions….

    It’s not just the fruit and veg stall that Lewis has failed to deliver! Where was Halifax’s mobile cash machine during Freshers Week? Where is the bus service to Morrisons? When are his drop-in sessions for “a cup of tea and cake”? What’s happened to the weekly vlog on youtube?

    I feel as though these issues about Lewis’ false promises and failed manifesto pledges need to be brought to a head, maybe through the campus media?

    Comment edited by a Moderator

  63. 5 Nov ’09 at 12:07 pm

    Tobias Ziegler

    Yeh, and mixing those issues with cheap personal attacks is really the way to go about doing it…. Well done for raising the standard of debate to new levels of excellence.

  64. 5 Nov ’09 at 4:15 pm

    A. Catsambas

    And to you Tobias, well done for avoiding the main arguments presented… Regardless of personal attacks, Bretts has not delivered what he promised. This is a fact – there is no room for argument in it. You can argue that he had more important things to do. Maybe so – but then, he should have known.
    As far as I am concerned, a person is as good as his/her word. If one gives a promise, one must deliver it. Of course, the best way to keep your word is to never give it, but Bretts wanted to win this election. So, like most politicians, he made several promises which he has not kept – thus failing his voters.
    A.

  65. 5 Nov ’09 at 4:16 pm

    A. Catsambas

    “I feel though that no confidence votes really should be left for cases where students have no confidence in the officer’s ability to do the job.”

    Again, regardless of how good a person may be in other things, if one is a liar, then one is unfit for office.
    A.

  66. Freshers week is the busiest period for the Democracy and Services Officer, because, well, they are running it! Let’s see what happens now Lewis has some more time on his hands, rather than jumping to conclusions 1/3 of the way into his time in office?

    And as for Stephen Patrick O’Ryan. Grow up. I can’t wait for you to stand for election for something this year. Expect A LOT of vocal scrutiny of your candidacy and policies.

  67. Moreover, this entire debate just shows how effective the campaign, and how good his ideas were/are. Are any other candidates being scrutinised on their manifesto policies?

  68. 5 Nov ’09 at 8:20 pm

    Tobias Ziegler

    I don’t really address arguments when scattered with personal attacks.

    I just looked at my calendar and it seems Bretts still has a fair few months left before he has ‘failed his voters’. Perhaps you should check yours before you start writing the obituary on his time in office.

    Regardless of what any candidate ‘promised’ in the election, there are certain duties that York students mandated the Democracy & Services officer to do – just read the constiution. Ask the thousands of students who attended Freshers’ Week events whether they want a fruit and veg stall from day one or a well run Freshers’ week. What do you think the answer will be?

    Lewis is also a trustee of YUSU (check out the Charity Commission website if you are unsure what that means) and has a legal responsibility to give certain issues primacy over others, regardless of UGM, election, etc. mandates.

    Ok, I am bowing out of this discussion. Aris, if you really are outraged then you can always submit a UGM motion…oh wait, you can’t.

  69. I’d also suggest that Stephen (and Nouse) takes a look at the following webpage:

    http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/eo/Harassment/harassmentelectronic.htm

    As I’m pretty sure personal insults of the nature that he posted (and Nouse let through) fit this criteria.

  70. “Where was Halifax’s mobile cash machine during Freshers Week?”
    This policy in particular concerned Fresher’s Week. I did not know that, but apparently he did not deliver it – thus he has already broken a promise.

    And no, other candidates are not being criticised. Probably because no one had such extravagant policies as Bretts, and as such, no other candidate as far as I know has breached any promises yet…
    A.

  71. I am tired of this debate, and this will be my last post. I cannot understand why you jump to defend someone who fails to deliver his promises – alright, maybe he will produce the stall later on, but what about the ATM? He did not deliver his promise – that’s that.

    In other words: the man lied. Regardless of the reasons, not delivering on your promises is clearly a negative trait – and I am sure that everyone would agree on this point (provided they displayed the faintest hint of decency). Maybe in all other aspects, Bretts will be a good officer. But that doesn’t matter – he has not been honest, and in my opinion, honesty is of paramount importance. If you disagree on this, well then our values clash. I for one would rather have an incompetent ruler than a dishonest one.

    Fact is, I am certain that Tobias and Sam are only debating for debate’s sake. Because if you asked them out of this context whether they would criticise a politician who does not keep to his/her manifesto, they would definitely say yes.
    A.

  72. “Where was Halifax’s mobile cash machine during Freshers Week?”

    Something like that takes quite a bit of organisation before hand – when Lewis would have been in handover: i.e. learning the job! It’s much more likely for something like that to be put in place for the following freshers’ week.

    When you say extravagant policies, what you mean is GOOD policies. That’s how he got elected, and is why you still remember them. Let’s judge him at the end of his term in office Aris. Oh no hang on, my mistake. You’re not a member of this Union anymore, so your opinion is totally irrelevant!

  73. Are you checking that my comment regarding harassment might be correct, Nouse moderators?

  74. 6 Nov ’09 at 3:10 am

    A. Politician

    Mobile cash machine was probably never going to be possible – security costs would be too high, and heslington’s only round the corner where there are 3 or 4 cash machines.

    Fruit and veg is already sold in the SU shop? Would a stall really make that much money apart from at peak times (freshers week, graduation) ?

    Bus service to morrisons was always going to be impossible to implement. No funds are available to subsidise it, and if it was a profitable route I’d bet you that one of the bus companies would’ve picked up on it by now. There are hourly buses to asda, but because they’re so infrequent, nobody bothers. The bus to morrisons would either be so infrequent nobody used it, or so frequent that it would have to charge high fares to cover the cost of multiple vehicles and drivers.

    They’re all silly policies, but some of them are obviously silly. Students voted this guy in knowing these policies would be unworkable. Presumably just because he seemed a nice chap.

    If we’re going to take policies seriously at SU elections, then we should all be angry about the lack of student venue in town, lack of pharmacy on campus, lack of discounted rum in campus bars…

  75. The policies are all possible. Wait and see what actually happens though as possible doesn’t mean easy or preferable!

  76. While I would agree that people have the right to ask Lewis about cash machines, fruit and veg stalls, and any other campaign pledge, I suggest they do just that; give him a call or drop him an email – I’m pretty certain he’ll respond.

    Stephen Patrick O’Ryan, your post earlier was a real toerag’s trick and you should be ashamed. I am amazed Nouse let the comment through and I wonder just how pathetic the comment was before moderation.

  77. The Nouse moderators are more than aware of the Uni’s harassment policy, and the personal comments got deleted way before you made your comment – unless you’re suggesting that holding officers to account and accusing them of breaking election promises is now harassment?

    (Note, obviously I no longer speak on behalf of Nouse, but rather as someone who has difficulty letting go…)

  78. I’m severly disappointed that when I cast my vote (democratically, I’m now a second year Gunnery/Skullery student) that Mad Cap’n Tom Scott didn’t put through his pirate policies. I really wanted a new cutlass…*sob

  79. The personal comments weren’t deleted before I posted that message, Chris.

    I posted my comment about harassment, and it took ages for the moderators to let it through. In that time, obviously kicked into action by my post, they removed the personal insults from Stephen’s post.

  80. Aris – there is a difference between not being able to implement your policies (for example time constraints), and never intending to in the first place. You say Lewis lied. I say that he just hasn’t been able to do it YET.

  81. Tommy: According to the timestamps, all the edits done to that comment were done before the timestamp your comment was posted at.

    Anyway, I really shouldn’t be getting involved with this (really I should ask for my Nouse account to be deleted so I can’t log in to the backend…)

  82. Chris – I can assure you that Stephen’s comment has been edited after I made my post about harassment (a reference to needing biscuits and cake was deleted).

    You can tell I’m telling the truth because of Dan Horsfall’s comment – he posted at 10.48am this morning when that bit of the comment was still in the post.

    Now, I assume you’ll apologise for your mistake and implying that I was lying?

  83. People voted for Bretts because his proposals sounded simple, practical and relevant (unlike a pharmacy on campus for example, or cannons on top of central hall which were things that were clearly never going to happen). Bretts got so many votes because students thought he could deliver what he promised.

    The personal attacks against him are absolutely disgusting, but some of the commenters raised a few valid points. An elected representative can’t just abandon all of his proposals after getting into office. This isn’t how democracy, student or otherwise, is supposed to work.

  84. If commentator A makes personal remarks in his post, and commentator B then restates those remarks (as a citation of commentator A’s remarks) after commentator A’s original post has been moderated to remove the offensive remarks – thereby resulting in no apparent evidence of commentator A having made the remarks – is commentator B himself guilty of personal harassment (of the victim of the remarks, and possibly of commentator A, whose reputation is now being called into question)? Tommy, any thoughts?

  85. 6 Nov ’09 at 4:11 pm

    Dan Horsfall

    When I posted, the comment carried the tagline “edited by moderator”. At this stage it still was rather offensive in a cheap and immature way. That has been further edited since.

  86. @ anon.

    No, because lewis is a good friend, and motive is relevant. And if you look closely I didn’t repeat the comment, merely pointed out the topic. Right I’m done with this debate too now.

  87. Tommy,

    I’m sure, then, that your friend really appreciated you reintroducing the substance (albeit not as a direct quotation) of the already removed remarks to this board (and thus the public – googleable – domain). Some might say that to make an offensive remark about someone, not to mention to call into question the integrity of another commentator and Nouse itself, based upon evidence you cannot produce, was libellous/harassment (not to mention downright unkind to the subject of the insults), regardless of whatever spurious self-righteous justification it might be cloaked in.

  88. And some might say that a number of people saw the unmoderated comment, aswell as nouse having a copy on their servers means it can’t be libel because there is proof. Now, I really am done with this.

  89. Pfft, this is getting silly. Anonymice (obviously the plural of anonymouse), why not leave Tommy and Lewis alone? I’m not sure what the relevance of these points are to the overall charity discussion anyway!

    And as it has been pointed out before, Lewis has a heck of a lot of time left – he only spoke at his first UGM three days ago and he has at least five more left. And don’t forget that saving Derwent Bar is probably higher on students’ priority list than a fruit and veg stall so give him a chance, eh? :P

  90. 8 Nov ’09 at 12:52 am

    I saw the offensive comments too

    Pipe down anon

  91. “And some might say that a number of people saw the unmoderated comment, aswell as nouse having a copy on their servers means it can’t be libel because there is proof.”

    Did you notice the Trafigura controversy at all? Not to mention other, less high-profile cases (I recall one instance of a particular man having his bankruptcy reversed, giving him carte blanche to have references to him having ever been declared bankrupt removed). The reference having been removed from the *public* domain means that you cannot cite it as ‘proof'; nor, I suspect, would the knowledge of the comment having been made be adequate without proof. The proof being the comment you wanted removed in the first place. My point, in any case, was addressing harassment – does repeating (and indeed reintroducing) an abusive comment (already removed from the public domain), albeit under a cloak of stern disapproval, constitute harassment in itself? It seems to me that it does; and that, perhaps, the honourable thing for Tommy to do would be to request that Nouse remove *his own* comment in which he specifically makes the repeat of the original offensive remark (assuming that it is so, which, of course, we have no proof of).

    As for the story itself, it seems to me entirely sensible that if YUSU has a democratically mandated pro-choice policy, it should not be supporting a charity with a pro-life ethos.

    @”I saw the offensive comments too” – isn’t free speech and open debate wonderful?

  92. I’ve just stumbled across this article, and I’m actually quite shocked and a little sad. I actually work for a crisis pregnancy centre that is also affiliated with CareConfidential. My centre manager has worked very closely to the director or CC, and I cant believe people are labelling them ‘a terrible organisation’. Yes, its a Christian based organisation, but we are NOT pro-life.We are a completely non-judgmental service. We do not go out of our way to discourage abortion, we just believe in giving someone time to THINK about their options rather than act out of fear in haste, and then regret it later. If someone tests positive and states ‘ i want an abortion and thats that’. who are we to argue? We also provide an excellent post abortion counselling service, because regardless of which ‘pro’ you may be, abortion CAN wreck lives. We are there to help get lives back together again. Its a sad state of affairs and an illusytration of the problems we face when most of our clients are actually suffering post abortion problems.

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