Open letter to Simon Lucas
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As many people doubtless know, John Cross, the former Returning Officer, currently faces a Union disciplinary for comments made at the AGM in January. This evening, the Chair of Union Council has resigned in protest. Here's the text of an e-mail I have just sent to the Union President.
I have been greatly concerned over the past few weeks to read of the circumstances which have today led to Benny Spooner’s resignation as Chair of Union Council. Whilst I accept disciplinary sanctions must be available in some cases, I find it troubling that anonymous questions to officers, criticisms in meetings, and most importantly votes in the Annual General Meeting seem to have caused, in this case, the unedifying spectacle of someone who has been a loyal servant to this Union over a number of years being hounded through disciplinary procedures without being told which clauses of the Union’s Constitution, appendices, policies, or regulations he has breached.
Over the course of this academic year, the sabbatical team have, by and large, shown themselves to be committed to the democratic character of this Union, and I thus find it particularly troubling that this record has been marred in this way. All Union members should, within reason, have the right to say what they like in Union meetings, and, without exception, should be allowed to vote as they like without fear of subsequent pursuit for voting in a way other than how the Union’s officers, Executive, or Sabbaticals wish. Something that was drilled into us at Union Council training last year was that there should be an atmosphere at Union meetings such that everyone should feel comfortable to contribute; this affair has, at a stroke, destroyed any hope of such an atmosphere prevailing in future.
The lamentable decision to pursue disciplinary action in this case has now robbed the Union of the services of two of its most capable and committed members. It will also do untold damage to the reputation of the Union and our ability to profess its democratic nature when people are hauled before a disciplinary simply for exercising their right to take a full part in Union meetings.
I hope that this distressing issue can be resolved quickly with no further unpleasantness.
Anyone who feels that this is not the way the Union should be behaving, sign the petition.