A peaceful protest highlighting the need for a social and catering facility on the Heslington East campus has erupted in controversy.
Ructions appeared at a Goodricke JCRC meeting after it emerged that Nacho Hernando, Goodricke JCRC Chair, is refusing to back the YUSU organised protest.
The protest is being organised by Andreas Gabrielsen, YUSU Campaigns Officer, and it has the support of Cem Turhan, Langwith JCR Chair, and Union Council.
The demonstration is a peaceful picnic designed to highlight the work already done towards reversing the University’s decision to delay building a catering building on Heslington East.
Hernando claims the protest is an, “unprepared, unclear and flawed demonstration which will only put in danger the channels of communications that have not yet been exhausted.”
However, Turhan has expressed his disappointment at Hernando’s decision not to support the protest, stating: “It is illogical and the aims have been misconstrued.”
The Goodricke JCRC voted overwhelmingly against supporting the protest in an open meeting last week. Many of those present expressed concern about both the effect of the protest, and confusion over its objectives. Rory Jones, Goodricke Press and Publicity, said: “People do not know what this protest is actually about.”
Hernando and the Goodricke JCRC have been pushing for 24 hour porters for Heslington East. They are currently the only college on the new campus and the JCRC took an active decision against demonstrations as a means to achieving their aims; viewing protests as counterproductive. Hernando has consistently maintained: “We are at a university where the senior management does not listen to protests.”
Gabrielsen has claimed this protest will not harm Goodricke’s chances, citing his similar experience – to Hernando – in dealing with senior management. Hernando reiterated that, “the only people to lose are Goodrickers” should the protest go ahead. He also called into question Gabrielsen’s involvement, stating: “You don’t have similar experience. I’m sorry to tell you this, but you don’t.”
“You [Andreas Gabrielsen] don’t have similar experince. I’m sorry to tell you this, but you don’t”
Goodricke College Chair
Turhan claims that Hernando has “not raised the issue of portering before, if he had we would have reconsidered the protest. No-one wants Goodricke to not achieve 24 hour portering.”
But Hernando has said he was largely unaware of what was transpiring, commenting: “I wish there had been closer communication before the plans for the protest were read. I personally do not even know the motives of it.”
The demonstration’s organisers have defended the protest saying “this protest is to be a light-hearted attempt to draw attention to the issue; it is not supposed to change policy.” However, Gabrielsen then went on to say that: “although it is not supposed to change policy, it will by drawing attention to the issue.”
Although the protest is not for 24 hour portering, Gabrielsen has said that it is part of its “over-arching aims.”
However, this is not mentioned on the Facebook page dedicated to the protest which states only that the aim is to raise awareness about the lack of a social and catering facility.
Hernando added: “It would be extremely irresponsible for someone to seek publicity through a protest for their particular cause, and damage the channels of communication for other representatives.”