Emma Brownbill has resigned from her position as YUSU LGBT Officer, labelling the presence of part-time Officer positions as “mere tokenism” because of the way they are treated and the inadequate levels of training and support provided.
In a statement, she said that the reasons for her decision were because, “the Union as a body has no active interest in maintaining the well-being of its part-time Officers” and that once a student is elected, “the Union is more of a hindrance than a help to the practical goal of improving the lives of the students they are elected to represent.”
Her resignation leaves the YUSU LGBT Officer position vacant until a by-election is conducted in a few weeks. However the new Officer(s) will only have two months until the annual YUSU elections where they would have to stand for re-election again.
Bob Hughes, YUSU Welfare Officer, has admitted that it is “not ideal to not have an LGBT Officer” at the moment.
Hughes added: “Emma decided to step down for her own personal reasons, and although it is not ideal to not have an LGBT Officer, I support her as I would any other Officer who felt that they were unable to stay in their role for whatever reason.”
Brownbill continued: “It is with great regret that I have decided to step down as YUSU’s LGBT Officer, but I feel it is a necessary step to allow me to focus more fully on achieving positive change for LGBT students at York…It is a truth quietly acknowledged by many who hold, or have held positions outside of the full-time Officer team that elected office within the Union is more of a hindrance than a help to the practical goal of improving the lives of the students they are elected to represent.”
She concluded by saying: “It is all well and good to have a tick-sheet of Officers for a diverse number of causes, but until their expertise and lived experience is given the weight it rightly warrants within the broader culture of the Union, their simple presence will be meaningless. While their concerns are downplayed, and at worst treated with contempt, each of our Liberation Officers will achieve at best half of what they’re capable of.
“Until ‘every’ Officer is provided with proper training and support, and treated like the adult that they are, the presence of their positions will be mere tokenism.”
Brownbill’s resignation means that two YUSU part-time Officers have stepped down this term after one of the Racial and Equality Officers resigned over allegations of anti-semitic comments last month.
There will now be a by-election for the position with nominations open until Tuesday 6th December and the result being announced on Monday 12th December.