In response to an open letter from a number of current and former students, and LGBTQ+ Officers representing other UK institutions questioning the decision of Student Council to remove Jack Hill from his post as LGBTQ+ Officer at Northampton University Student's Union, the Students' Union has issued the following statement:
“The Students' Union is fiercely proud of its diverse campus community and of its history in campaigning on LGBTQ issues - from campaigning for gender neutral toilets on Park, Avenue and subsequently Waterside Campuses to the support of the Stonewall Rainbow Laces campaign at last year's Varsity.
“On Thursday 21st February at a meeting of Student Council hosted at The Senate building on Waterside Campus, votes of no confidence* were taken against Tom Weaver, Student Councillor (AU Place), Sebastian Antaki, Student Councillor, Scott Hemsley, Student Councillor, Kieran Malkin, Student Councillor, Adedotun Adebowale, Student Councillor and Jack Hill, LGBTQ+ Officer. Following a debate of the issues raised against their performance in their respective roles, five of six persons were discharged of their responsibilities and removed from position.
“The process can be triggered automatically by repeated failures to perform in the role as outlined in the Students' Union's bye-laws e.g. failing to attend Student Council or failing to submit reports to Student Council or by a petition of four Student Councillors calling upon such a vote. The vote of no-confidence was submitted due to concerns regarding the individual's performance in the role against the requirements in the bye-laws and the role descriptions for the role to which they ran to be elected.
“All persons were notified, via Student Council minutes, of strikes received as a result of failing to perform their respective duties following previous Student Council meetings.
“The Students' Union would like to direct those concerned by the decision made regarding the removal of the LGBTQ officer to consult the paper relating to Jack's vote of no confidence on the Students' Union's website, which sets out the objective rationale pertaining to his failure in post.
“The Students' Union's Executive Officers have a powerful role to play in setting Students' Union campaign priorities, lobbying the University as the student body's official representatives and delivering Union campaigns and activities for the community they represent.
“By not engaging with the Students' Union's Sabbatical Officers, fellow Executive Officers and staff, the Union has been unable to effectively represent the views of LGBTQ students to the University on matters of importance. As a recent example, Jack's failure to engage or attend Students' Union meetings resulted in a situation where review of the University's Sexual Harassment Policy included no LGBTQ community representation or input. Student Council, following extensive debate, has found such an attitude to the role to be inappropriate for a person trusted by so many students at Northampton to represent them in such meetings and decision-making processes.
“We will continue to do our best by all our members and continue to work hard to forward our liberation agendas so that our campus and our community can become a safe and open space where all students are able to participate without fear of judgement about their gender, sexuality, race, disability, age, nationality or any other form of discrimination that is intolerable in our University and in the wider community. This commitment is similarly reflected in the Students' Union's decision to create a new BME Sabbatical Officer position.”
* A vote of no confidence is an official process, set out in the Students' Union's constitution, that enables Student Council, as the elected representative body of the Students of the University of Northampton, to remove any of its officially appointed representatives to the institution from post.
The University of Northampton Students' Union Sabbatical Team