Former Environment and Ethics Officers Release Response to YUSU’s ‘Correcting the Record’ Statement

Less than 24hrs after YUSU's statement, the former part-time Officers have responded in a post shared by the York Action for Student Solidarity Instagram page

(Image: Quinn Chen, Instagram @seirororrrr)

Former YUSU Environment and Ethics Officers Claire Sheldon and Woody Kadis-Ross have released a statement in response to Union President Pierrick Roger’s rebuttal of claims they made at YUSU’s AGM last Thursday. The dispute is over planned reforms to the Part-Time Officer (PTO) structure, and the initial failure of YUSU’s Officer Group to agree on a Plant-Based Universities (PBU) policy, which led to the Environment and Ethics Officers’ resignations last Thursday. 

The statement begins with concerns about the tone of YUSU’s rebuttal, saying “the ungratified response of the Student President to any critique of YUSU has been disheartening to watch. […] Attempting to frame legitimate criticism as ‘misrepresentations’, lowers the tone of debate and does not serve anyone’s needs.” 

Claire and Woody also addressed the changes to the Environment and Ethics Officer role:

“The point that the renaming of ‘Part-time Officers’ as ‘Union Representatives’ is largely cosmetic is true, but this is symbolic of the fact that students taking on part-time, voluntary roles are seen as being of lesser importance within YUSU.”

“As Environment and Ethics Officers we raised multiple concerns about the potential impact of this restructuring on environmental issues. We were worried this could lead to the potential sidelining of environmental issues and sought to discuss this. Unfortunately our concerns were not listened to and our suggestions protecting environmental policy ignored.”

They also suggested that their issues are with the current structure, not just the changes, saying “it is sadly the case that part-time officers currently have very little power at all within the officer group. Sabbatical officers have de facto control over virtually all aspects. This will not change with the new structure if, as is claimed, the changes are merely cosmetic.”

Moving onto arguments about YUSU’s independence, they said “it is true that YUSU is a legally independent charity. However, it is also true that it is financially reliant upon its commercial arm (Commercial Services: which runs outlets such as YUSU Bars), and any policy that may threaten this is blocked. This limits the scope of policies that can be pursued. If YUSU is to deliver for students, it must be run as a vehicle for campaigning and delivering on their needs, not as a commercial entity.”

Finishing, the statement reads “[YUSU’s] statements’ claims about [Plant-Based University] are categorically wrong and, in places, offensive. The reason that the policy proposal circulated for months is because we received no communication from the Sabb assigned to the policy after its first discussion at the officer group. Our emails went unanswered and promised meetings never materialised. As the policy fell within our remit, and we were prevented from taking part in its development, progress was rendered impossible by the relevant sabbatical officer. The further claims that we “refused to consider anything which accommodated the needs of students with additional requirements or the financial implications of their proposal” are deeply offensive, and potentially defamatory. This statement should be immediately withdrawn and an apology issued. We sought discussions with those potentially affected by the policy and were willing and open to incorporate their thoughts into the policy. Yet again however, meetings never materialised and we were shut out of discussions. Additionally, we sought financial advice from the head of Commercial Services, who privately assured us the policy was financially viable.”

The Claire and Woody’s full statement can be read on the York Action for Student Solidarity Instagram page (shared on behalf of the pair), with YUSU’s full statement available to read online at: https://yusu.org/news/article/correcting-the-record

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