However, I no longer feel I can continue in this role. I have become more and more concerned with the culture of OUSU Council, which increasingly shies away from debate and scrutiny. Though I still have faith in myself and my intentions I no longer feel I have the confidence of Council to do what I was elected to do. I therefore have no option but to resign from Scrutiny Committee, and to speak out against the unhealthy culture developing within our Student Union’s Council.
At OUSU Council – 3rd Wk Michaelmas Term 2013 I made the following statement to OUSU Council;
I love my Student Union, and I love OUSU Council. Over the past 6 years I have had the immense honour to serve the students of this University, in one form or another. I always stood up for what I thought was right, as did those around me - promoting rich and diverse debate, and a better outcome for students.
Council exist to represent the voice of students and to convey their opinion. It exists to elect certain office holders. And it exists to hold those in power to account.
However, I have recently noticed a change in the culture of Council. Debate is stifled, either by the urge of representatives not to be here, or, as I have now become aware, because people feel that they cannot speak their mind for fear of political or personal retribution.
And I see this when I speak in Council. I see the negative reaction I receive for asking completely legitimate questions of our representatives. I hear the groans when I stand to speak on motions. But this isn’t about me – there are others who are also treated this way. Every student has the right to speak in Council. But what must those brave few, who actually turn up, thick when they arrive? Are they provided with an environment where every view, whatever it may be, is welcomed and heard?
We have rolled out the principle of Unity to the point where proper debate and scrutiny is being hindered. Put simply, the views of students and Common Rooms are not being fully heard. And this scares me.
I will continue to speak in Council, and represent my Common Room. But while I still have confidence in what I do, and that I do it out of a love for my Student Union, it has become all too apparent that Council no longer has confidence in the work I do in holding our representatives to account. I am also aware that some have (incorrectly) connected the severity of last terms Scrutiny Report with my presence on the committee. I will not allow this unfounded lack of confidence in myself, to affect the important work of a body whose reports need to have the approval and faith of Council. It is for this reason that I have decided to resign from Scrutiny Committee.
I know there are others, like me, who are unhappy with the culture of this body. I ask you all to find the courage to speak your mind, so that we, Council, can return to fulfilling the responsibilities entrusted to us.