April 27, 2005

My resignation

Writing about web page http://www.johncrossisinnocent.tk

I've resigned my position as a Union Officer. Even at the low points last year I stuck it out. I think it says an awful lot about the patently ridiculous situation that I've decided to give up now.

Here's the text (more or less) or my letter to Simon Lucas, President of the Students' Union

Dear Simon,

I am writing to inform you that I am resigning the post of Democracy Committee Chair 2004/2005, effective Midnight tonight.

This year has seen a marked shift in the engagement of the Studentsí Union with its members. We have had more students involved in the democratic process than at any time in recent history, and this is in no small part due to the commitment of the entire Executive Committee, and in particular of yourself. You have done more than any of your predecessors in my time to tell students what the Union is for, and to involve them in elections, referenda, meetings and every aspect of the democratic structure.

You have not only been an excellent President and leader, but you have also been a good friend. Throughout last year, whether I was one of the few fighting to save AWS or simply trying to get people to vote in the secondaries, I seriously considered giving up on the Union; but your election gave us all some hope that this year would be better. And, in almost every conceivable way, it has been. I am very proud to have worked with you in bringing our Constitution and rules up to speed with the realities of todayís Union, and I have great hope that the momentum for engagement and reform will only gather speed in the future. I have thoroughly enjoyed the sense of achievement that our work has given me this year, and it is with a very heavy heart that I take the decision not to see the year out.

Throughout my time as a Union activist, I have sought to increase the participation of our members in our processes. I see increasing democracy and accountability as both my objective and my substantive achievement over these past 4 years. It is a fact that we are a membership organisation, and as such should be driven not by our leadership, but by the involvement and decisions of our members. We should aim to be as open, and as welcoming to scrutiny, as possible. I cannot reconcile this principle with the current disciplinary procedures against John Cross. If any other member had said the few things he said in a Union meeting, I firmly believe that they would not be facing the same measures.

To use the Unionís disciplinary regulations against a member who has not broken any of our Constitution, Appendices, Regulations or the Student-Staff protocol simply cannot be right. If it is the case that a member has committed an actionable slander or libel, then that is of course a serious matter; but it is a fact that no court would even hear this case, let alone entertain finding against John. As a matter of law, in never referring, either directly or otherwise, to an individual John could not be guilty of the offences that have been suggested.

The principle at stake is fundamental to the Unionís core value of democracy. It cannot be the case that members are not free to question the activities of their Union in a forum designed to do just that. The claim that the way in which a member votes or the supposed inferences of anonymous questions can be used as evidence against them is both alarming and deeply indicative of the unjust foundation of these charges. I see it as my role to promote Union democracy; I cannot reconcile this with the punishment that seemingly awaits a member who accepts this invitation of participation.

I know this situation is not of your doing and I have no intention of using it to undermine you or bring measures against you, yet I cannot remain as part of an Executive Committee that allows such obvious abuses of due process. Nor can I support the prolonged and indefensible pressure that has been applied to one of the Unionís most hard-working and selfless members. It is of noticeable irony that we are currently discussing improving the quality of decision-making whilst treating a member who tried to do that in this manner. It is to our great discredit that the Union is seen to be withholding information and silencing any scrutiny when I believe there is, in fact, nothing to hide. We will never gain the confidence and enthusiasm of our members by behaving in such a reactionary manner to examination by them. Ultimately, if we do not have the faith and confidence of our members, this Union will have failed. It is therefore with a great deal of sadness that I must resign my position.

Yours Sincerely,

Michael Britland


- 11 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Will you be resuming your position next year, Mike? Anyway, I'll probably see you at the 'John Cross is innocent' meeting on Tuesday.

    27 Apr 2005, 00:50

  2. That depends on what happens at the hearing, I guess. If we can squash this precedent and make sure this sort of nonsense never happens again, then I probably will resume in September

    27 Apr 2005, 00:52

  3. Can't we put in amendments to the appendix dealing with meetings explicitly stating that a.) only comments which violate easily identifiable areas of the Contitution, Appendices, and Regulations, may be subject to disciplinary action, and b.) that no votes or anonymous questions may be subject to disciplinary action? Not much good in this case, I know, but it might help in future. I also have ideas for proceedural things to try at Council next week to drive the point home. And have you considered standing for co-option as Democracy Committee chair again explicitly opposing this development?

    27 Apr 2005, 00:57

  4. Max da Rocha

    Hi Mike,
    Just as with Benny I'm saddened to hear that you have resigned, though I truly admire your integrity in doing so.
    Don't know much about this matter, but it really seems awful.
    Anyways mate, I'll miss you around
    Best of luck to you

    27 Apr 2005, 01:18

  5. To an outsider this whole situation is most awfully puzzling… but then from what I hear there will be efforts to shed some light on events later tonight?

    27 Apr 2005, 10:54

  6. Damn typo

    27 Apr 2005, 10:55

  7. Talia

    Hey Mike

    Just come across all this. Knowing how bad things were last year, this has got to be bad to make you choose now to resign.

    Anyway I don't know anything about it so I'm not really in a place to comment, but I hope it all goes well. Give John my best wishes.

    Talia x

    28 Apr 2005, 16:22

  8. Daryl

    hey mike to sorry about you resigning-in pursuing this case, the union have lost the two people who have done the most for union politics in the last few years and are the most knowledgable about the whole set-up. Along with the loss of John Cross earlier on in the year, it all looks a bit bleak. Shame. I hear from Ed that there is going to be a public meeting on tuesday to illustrate what has happened-when and where? ta

    01 May 2005, 21:42

  9. The meeting will be taking place on Tuesday in R1.13 at 18:15. The hearing date is approaching, and I still don't know what the charges are.

    01 May 2005, 23:40

  10. Anon

    Having read the transcripts and documents from John Cross this whole saga just re-inforces the beauracratic political nonsense of our student's union. If someone believes that money has been handled inappropriately, they have every right to say that they believe it to be true. It is not the same as saying 'it is true'.

    I strongly believe that sabattical officers look to 'act like they are big and clever' and avoid getting a real job. I think they are creating an excuse to cause a fuss, just to give them something to do. I also believe that the real inappropriate allocation of funds is paying sab officers to walk around the union all day and pretend to be important. I'd replace them with accountable full-time officers, who remain longer than one year and can therefore implement a more strategic development of the union. That is my view, my opinion.

    04 May 2005, 13:17

  11. Pete

    Amazing. No wonder 90% of the people I know think those who are involved in the Union are a bunch of tossers. Too big, too complicated, and too many people who see talking about stuff as an end in itself, rather than a means to the end of actually getting stuff done. I would say I'm saddened by it, but it wouldn't be true. The Union has been irrelevent to me for the last four years; why should it matter now?

    12 May 2005, 10:35


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  • Amazing. No wonder 90% of the people I know think those who are involved in the Union are a bunch of… by Pete on this entry
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