All entries for May 2005

May 06, 2005

Blog Suspended

I am suspending my blog until 28th May to concentrate on my exams.

In particular I will not be commenting on the John Cross case until this time.

I will also not be doing any further work on this case or campaigning on the subject of the Union Disciplinary Regulations during this period.


Disciplinary Update

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John's appeal is confirmed for next Tuesday, when the Union will have to decide whether to confirm its position of taking action against a student whom it accepts didn't break the constitution, its appendicies and regulations, didn't break the staff-student protocol and didn't break the law.

I am still baffled as to how the first hearing found that no rules had been breached, and yet still found John guilty. Surely if no rules are breached at all, that means no action should be taken against you?

You can read the verdict here

In other news Union Council passed a policy expressing concerns about the disciplinary regulations last night. There was suggestions that it was personally motivated – I can confirm that I personally believed that we should pass that policy.

Incidently, the Sabbaticals claimed that it was constitutional to expel members from the Students' Union and that they had received legal advice on this subject.

We have to follow the Constitution, unless the law means it would be illegal for us to do so.

The Constitution states:

_4.1 The following will be members of the Union:
(a) Full members: All registered students of the University except those who exercise their right not to be a member under section 22 (2) (c) of the Education Act 1994. Sabbatical Officers of the Union will be full members of the Union_

It is clear from this statement that if you are a registered student of the University, you are a member of the Union. So taking the Constituion on its own (ignoring the law), the Union cannot expel its own members.

Now the question is, is this section of the Constitution illegal? If it is, the Sabbaticals should inform the University Council immediately that it
has approved an illegal Constitution for our Union.

Otherwise, they are wrong.

I hope that the disciplinary regulations are rewritten as soon as possible to meet some of the concerns that were expressed yesturday. We are in a situation where a member has been found guilty for breaking no rules at all. That is certainly unacceptable, it is questionable whether it is legal. Although I have no legal expertise, it seems to me that whilst it is legal for a membership organisation to impose sanctions on its members for breaking its rules, it seems doubtful whether it is legal for a membership organisation to impose sanctions for not breaking any rules.

Even though I think the Sabbaticals are wrong, I respect each and every one of them, because I know that they are doing what they think is right. I am also doing what I think is right, and I make no apology for standing up for what I believe in.


May 04, 2005

Disciplinary Verdict

Well as had been decided some time ago the Union Disciplinary found John Cross guilty this afternoon at about 5.30 pm.

Most of the investigating Officer's report, such as the bits about annonymous questions, were disregarded as irrelevant, but the fact that the irrelevant evidence was ignored isn't a lot of consolation, if the panel then convicts on the basis of no evidence.

It turned out that the action was being brought under the 11th ground for disciplinary action:

Any behaviour which causes a student, guest or staff member to lodge a complaint.

Yes, that's right, if you take any action which causes someone to lodge a complaint, that in itself is a grounds for a disciplinary. It could be walking into Cholo, tying your shoelace, speaking on Union business, casting a vote… any action at all is grounds for a disciplinary.

It was accepted by the panel that John didn't break the constitution, its appendicies, regulations, the staff-student protocol or the law. And yet a disciplinary was proceeding because a member of staff had complained.

Union Council is going to consider whether we should have a new set of disciplinary regulations, which would stop this kind of nonsense happening. I hope they give the current regulations the vote of no confidence they deserve.

Incidently John was finally convicted of causing offence to a member of staff and of compounding this offence by not retracting his statement. He was never told that he was being tried for causing offence at any point during the proceedings.

Maybe Simon Lucas was right to tell John to stop wasting time by persistantly asking for a copy of the charges. After all, if the charges can change just before the verdict is announced, what would be the point of looking at them at all?

Now John's been ordered to apologise and clarify his remarks to Union Council. It's difficult to see why he would want to do either of those things, so it seems that the only thing the Union has acheived today is to waste everybody's time.


Today's Schedule

So, its the day of John Corss's disciplinary hearing.

The schedule today looks set to be as follows:

1230 – Demonstrate outside Union North to protest about this disciplinary action.

1430 – Hearing begins.

Later – John found guilty by panel.

Tommorow's schedule includes

Before 1600 – John lodges appeal against guilty verdict.

1900 – Union Council meeting in S0.21 to give the disciplinary regulations a vote of no confidence – all welcome.

May 03, 2005

Public Meeting Today

Don't miss the public meeting on Union Censorship that is being held today at 6.15pm in R1.13.

It will be a great chance to discuss freedom of speach in our Union, in relation to the disciplinary regulations, the media codes of conduct, and the staff-student protocol.

All are welcome.

May 2005

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