Officers remain as Motions of Censure rejected

The YUSU Women’s Officer and LGBTQ Officer remain in their positions following failed Motions of Censure

Image: lewishamdreamer

Image: lewishamdreamer

Ben Leatham, YUSU President, has announced on the YUSU website on behalf of Callum Furness, Policy Coordinator, that the Motions of Censure against Katherine Mellor, Women’s Officer and Jack Chadwick, LGBTQ Officer have been rejected.

While the Policy Review Group (PRG) did find that the officers “did violate their duties as YUSU Officers”, they also decided that there were “insufficient grounds for Votes of No Confidence”. Instead the PRG recommended Motions of Censure for the individuals, which would be voted on by the YUSU officers and would require the specific reasons for the vote to be given.

Prompting the Motions of Censure against the two YUSU officers was a post-election event in May, when among others, Mellor and Chadwick helped organise a protest titled “Emergency Rally: Democracy Now”. The event aimed to “Fight the cuts, Fight FPTP, Fight the Tories”.

The political nature of the protest and the focus on the Conservatives caused many students on campus to voice their discontent on the event’s Facebook Page, which promptly saw a large scale removal of differing opinions. The resulting counter-event attracted several hundred students. Meanwhile, Motions of No Confidence were received by the PRG against Mellor and Chadwick.

Both motions were rejected, meaning that the officers remain in their positions. A large majority voted against the censure of Mellor, while the vote against Chadwick received a 6-6 tie with two abstentions. In accordance with the YUSU constitution a tie results in the motion failing. However even had the motion passed, it would not have necessarily meant the dismissal of an officer. Unlike a vote of no confidence which results in the immediate dismissal of an officer, a successful motion of censure merely ‘expresses dissatisfaction’ with no other implications on the status of the officer.


  1. So just to be absolutely clear, YUSU officers can clearly violate their duties in being overtly politically biased with no consequences at all. Not even an ‘expression of dissatisfaction’!!

    Dear YUSU – you’re a joke. Stop acting like a Labour Party crèche and start doing what you’re supposed to be doing: representing students across the board and ensuring your officers play by the rules.

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  2. The very fact that it was only a motion of censure and not a vote of no confidence makes it a joke, let alone the outcome. Had the motion passed all that would have happened would have been YUSU just saying to the two Officers ‘we’re not impressed’. Would have hardly had an impact on the situation. The whole thing has been a joke from start to finish.

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  3. The most worrying thing about this is the extent to which the membership of the University in general have to make an effort to stay informed about procedure and decisions – and inevitably, therefore, stay completely uninformed.

    I probably won’t lose much sleep over this specifically, but it’s indicative of a wider cloistering of what should be a much more transparent set of processes.

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  4. They clearly violated the rules (Chadwick in particular) and therefore should have to suffer the consequences. But yet again YUSU protect their officers from facing any kind of consequences. I suspect had Chadwick and Mellor’s actions been representing a more right wing political viewpoint they wouldn’t get off so lightly, but this behaviour fits right in with YUSU’s wider agenda.

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  5. 12 Jul ’15 at 1:37 pm

    Motion Author

    The original motion, as I wrote it, explicitly called for no confidence in both officers which would trigger a union-wide ballot on their removal. Under this process, the officer group has no right to intervene: it is only with a motion of censure that the issue is put to a vote of the officer group. I tabled a motion of no confidence precisely because I did not want the officer group to intervene; YUSU’s procedures for censure are flawed because they depend upon colleagues of the officers in question being objective and critical of each other. It is not hard to imagine a situation whereby an officer agrees in principle with the motion of censure but votes against it out of personal loyalty or affection – or indeed, the other way around.

    Certainly, it is within PRG’s remit to refuse the motion, and to recommend censure in lieu. I cannot fault their decision – it is still significant that PRG felt there were strong grounds for a motion of censure. I was a member of PRG (voluntarily suspended when I tabled the motion) and have nothing but respect for my former colleagues, who I know do take their jobs very seriously. But what I find disturbing is that PRG met in May to consider the question, and at no point was it mentioned to me when I heard back that a motion of censure was being considered. Why did it take from May to July to hold a simple vote of the officer group? Why wait for the new officers to join the group when they were not in their positions when the alleged infringement in question took place? Why was there no open communication of any kind between YUSU and the membership about what was going on? Why was the timing of the vote and the date of the meeting not publicised in advance to allow interested parties to write to officers if they wanted to lobby them to vote either way? For that matter, why was the original motion itself not published or made easily available for anyone who wanted to read it? Where are the minutes of any of these meetings for us to scrutinise and review?

    Part of the rationale behind creating PRG was to improve accountability and transparency at YUSU. It was supposed to add a measure of critical objectivity to YUSU’s policy process, streamline union democracy and enhance the quality of that democracy by providing an independent panel of review when officers or candidates are accused of wrongdoing. But look at the comments above and the ones that I’m sure will follow – by completely failing to communicate with the members before, during and really even after the vote, I fear that confidence in PRG and YUSU’s accountability mechanism has been fatally undermined. All students will think is that a complaint was filed, half-disregarded and then put to a vote of people who work with the two officers in question behind closed doors without any publicity or consultation. Without transparency from start to finish in the process, there is no world in which that looks good or fair to the ordinary student. The sad reality is that I’m sure most of these issues have fair and reasonable explanations for answers – but YUSU’s failure to communicate even bare basic information makes the whole process seem thoroughly awful.

    But most importantly, don’t feel like you can’t change anything. If you’re angry at how these things work, go to and propose the bye-laws be changed so MoCs go to a union-wide vote, or suggest whatever changes you think are in order. Remember, MoCs used to go to a vote of the whole membership at general meetings – it changed once, it can change again. Write to PRG, who are at least independent and did find grounds for an MoC (impyling PRG felt wrongdoing may have taken place), and demand to know more details and to see meetings of minutes. Lobby your officers to ask them how they voted (they don’t have to tell you but you can certainly ask), or to campaign for changes on your behalf. I saw what I believed to be possible wrongdoing and took action against Jack Chadwick and Katherine Mellor – you can do the same in all kinds of ways if you feel like YUSU’s handling of the situation, or its procedures, have been inadequate.

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    • Hey, jack here. I think you’re right about yusu democracy being rubbish. For some of the questions you ask, the answers literally just don’t exist – for example there aren’t any minutes from the officer group because the officer group never met to discuss this. Neither me nor Katie were ever asked to defend ourselves to the whole Policy Review Group in person, everything happened entirely behind our backs. And to clarify, it was the previous officer group who decided on this, not the new one. It’s just taken ages for the PRG to publish their report. And as for the report itself, it was very one-sided – it didn’t give any of the reasons for the officer group’s rejection of both motions. Me and Katie wrote detailed responses to the motion’s complaints, making apologies where appropriate, explaining our actions and how they related to our positions as liberation officers. None of that was reflected in the blog or in the above article which is a shame.

      I have a sneaking suspicion I know who you are so feel free to hit me up if you want to chat about this in a less public forum.

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      • 12 Jul ’15 at 4:48 pm

        Johannes Huber

        Apologies, I had requested all documents on the matter from yusu and did not receive your or katherine’s defenses. However in all honesty, im not sure I would have included them if I had received them as this article was intended to be pretty dry and focused on the outcome of the vote.

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  6. 12 Jul ’15 at 1:37 pm

    yusu dissident

    this is a clear indication of the leftwing rot in our once great union. Instead of safeguarding the Student Experience, commie rabble-rousers like chadwick and mellor run the show. How dare they be political. How dare the union elect politically minded people to positions of political representation.

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