April 26, 2005

My Resignation

I have resigned as Chair of Union Council with effect from midnight tonight.

The text of my resignation letter is as follows:

Mr S. Lucas
University of Warwick Studentsí Union

26th April 2005

Dear Simon,

I am writing to inform you that I am resigning from the position of Chair of Union Council with effect from Midnight tonight. I have taken the decision to resign as I have been informed today that a member of the Union is being taken to a Union disciplinary as a result of comments that he made at a Union meeting, despite the fact that there is no evidence that any rules were broken.

I wish to stress that I am resigning on this issue and on this issue alone. This has been a good year. You have managed to revitalise interest in Union democracy by your visionary attitude that has silenced the doubters. At this time last year no one could have imagined that we were going to have two quorate General Meetings, two quorate referenda periods, and a brand new Constitution, putting to rest the myth that students are not interested in Union democracy. You can be truly proud of what you have done, and I know you have done a lot of other good things for the Union that I have not mentioned here.

However I find that my position as Chair is now untenable, as a member is being sent to disciplinary for making a speech at a Union meeting, despite the fact that no evidence has been produced that he did anything wrong. I have reviewed what happened at the Annual General Meeting, and I am convinced that the member involved did not break the Constitution, its Appendices, the Regulations or the Staff Student Protocol. Indeed he is yet to be told what section of any of these documents he may have broken.

You have also sent the member involved what is a frankly bizarre email making quite ludicrous claims about his conduct. You use anonymous questions against him, despite the fact that I have at no time told you who asked those questions. I find it unacceptable that you should be suggesting that you know who asked anonymous questions, as there is no way that you can know this.

You also claim that the memberís vote constitutes an allegation of fraud. Whether or not to approve the accounts is a decision for the Annual General Meeting to take; this is set out in the Constitution. It is totally unacceptable to suggest that a vote against the accounts is an allegation of fraud, how could it be?

You also claim that the member has opened the Union to legal action from the Unionís Auditors. Considering that the member made comments about the 2004–05 finances, which have not yet been audited, the suggestion that the comments that were made have anything to do with the Unionís Auditors is palpably absurd. The fact that at the Annual General Meeting there was also a debate about whether the Auditors should be reappointed makes your point doubly absurd.

You claim that the member made an allegation of fraud and corruption against the Unionís Finance Manager and his team. Not only is there no evidence that there was an allegation of fraud and corruption, the member did not say anything at all about any members of staff. It is ultimately the responsibility of the Finance and Internal Affairs Officer and the rest of the Executive Committee to ensure that the correct amount of money is in each account, and it is quite proper that members are able to fulfil their constitutional and legal right to scrutinise the accounts, provided they in no way refer to any members of staff.

So you have failed to produce any evidence at all that any Union rules have been broken, indeed unless you have a large stack of evidence that you have not yet disclosed to the member involved it would appear that there is no prima facia case against the individual at all.

I am committed to ensuring free speech within the Union, provided that those speaking stay within the rules of the Union. As I am no longer able to do this I feel that I have not option other than to resign.

ďThis Union is directed by its members and aims to enhance the experience of students whilst at the University of Warwick.Ē

We have failed in this mission today.

Yours sincerely,

Benny Spooner
Chair of Union Council

- 8 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. well done benny! you have done an excellent job and you have shown integrity when others have not!!

    26 Apr 2005, 21:53

  2. Benny, I've admired your work at the union for a long time now and I think you've taken yet another stand for union democracy. Well done and I hope this ridiculous nonsense about disciplining John Cross is sorted out soon.

    Good luck to both you and Cross.


    26 Apr 2005, 22:12

  3. I have to say, Benny, that you've been an excellent Chair of Council for the past year, and a greatly valued friend for even longer.

    For anyone who cares, I too have resigned my position as a Union Officer. The text of my letter to Simon can be found on my blog at link

    27 Apr 2005, 00:05

  4. Max da Rocha

    Just wanted to say thanks Benny, I think you have done an excellent job as Chair of Council and you will be missed.
    I don't realty feel I know enough about your reason of resignation to say anything, though I admire you integrity and commitment to union democracy.
    good luck to u mate.

    27 Apr 2005, 01:04

  5. Ella Sprung

    Adding my praise of you as Chair of Council and hopes that this mess will be sorted out soon and of course that justice should prevail.

    27 Apr 2005, 14:47

  6. Roxanne Homayoun

    Thinking back to the AGM, I don't remember anything as interesting as fraud allegations happening….

    I just wanted to say thanks, Benny. Please don't feel that you have any failure to be responsible, you've just earned more respect. As someone who still hasn't quite got round to reading the constitution, I was astounded by how much you knew in our first year, and since.

    It's been a good year. Cheers.

    27 Apr 2005, 15:49

  7. Sad to read of your resignation after you have done such a good job.

    Perhaps a formal process is needed to clear the air. I can certainly see the advantages from Simon Lucas' viewpoint in getting the matter out of his hands.

    27 Apr 2005, 19:38

  8. Being away from Warwick, I am surprised to read this, I had no idea it was happening, but having read yours and Mike's blogs, I can only applaud you.

    Last year, I remember being (pleasantly) surprised by the interest taken by ordinary students in Union life, which has only increased this year by all accounts. This has been, in no small measure, down to you Benny. Speaking for myself, I know I was apathetic to the Union in my first year before I got to know more about it from you.

    But anyway what I'm trying to say is, well done for standing up for integrity and Warwick democracy will miss you.

    28 Apr 2005, 11:43

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