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Student Union Chair resigns over alleged undemocratic Board practices

Chair of Student Council Isaac Chase-Rahman resigned at a meeting on 27 February in protest of “disregard for democratic principles” by “SU’s leadership and Trustee Board,” which struck down two motions of no confidence.

Chase-Rahman, who has been Chair for the past two terms, said in a speech to Council: “It became immediately apparent to me that the SU has been systemically mired in difficulty, challenge, and most importantly, a disregard for democratic principles. I hold these democratic principles in high regard, and lament the role I have been forced to play in casting fair and reasonable democracy aside.

“The events preceding this meeting have been wholly undemocratic. The decision of the SU’s leadership and Trustee Board to reject motions of no confidence in a sabbatical officer and a sabbatical-elect acts only to shut down student voices without valid cause. Giving obscure explanations of ‘ongoing investigations’ and ‘organisational risks’ is insufficient and unacceptable.

“As the Chair, it is my responsibility to be unbiased on motions. I maintain that with these motions of no confidence too. But the SU cannot function with such willful disregard for democracy, and it would be unreasonable to expect any Chair of any Council to function in any SU while it continues in this way. It is therefore with a heavy heart that I feel I have to make the difficult decision to resign as Chair of Council with immediate effect. I hope the Organisation takes pause to reflect on its current course and make necessary changes for the students it purports to represent.”

In an email to the Steering Committee, the SU Democracy and Community Manager wrote: “Unfortunately both VONC motions will have to be struck from the agenda for next week’s meeting. Trustee Board has informed us that both include content which is subject to ongoing investigations which will need to be resolved before the motions can be heard and we have highlighted some significant organisational risks with the Board.”

Additionally, they wrote that a “procedural motion” has been removed “as it relates to one of the struck motions.”

Previously, University College Junior Common Room passed a “motion of no confidence and condemnation” in the SU Welfare VP-Elect Alfie Davis. The motion states: “The Student Union, referring to a non-descript ‘investigation’ blocked the no confidence motion in the Student Council. When prompted for an elaboration, the SU refused to provide one.”

As such, Univ JCR resolves “to urge the SU to allow the no confidence motion to be heard at Council.” If this item is not met by Trinity Term’s first SU meeting, the JCR resolves to “conditionally suspend affiliation from the Student Union.”

Davis states: “It’s important to note that for a no-confidence to be raised, something impeachable has to have occurred, with factual evidence to support such. Whilst there’s been an attempt to distort private messages taken from me out of context, which were used to make entirely libellous and defamatory statements, the SU requires evidence for a motion to be brought.”

SU president Danial Hussain, after returning from four months of suspension, was not physically present. As there was no Chair nor Returning Officer, VP of Liberation and Equality Kennedy Aliu chaired the meeting.

Cherwell has contacted the SU, Bell, and Davis for comment.

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