By Abi Gibson
The emergency council which called for a referendum at De Montfort Students Union took a dramatic turn as three of the elect Full Time Officers resigned from their positions.
The council, on April 12th, began with the current President of the Student’s Union and chair of the trustee board, Artehsam Mahmood, chairing the meeting. He explained the purpose of the meeting was to word the referendum question about the De Montfort Students Union (DSU) Elections.
This was due to controversy around accusations of cheating towards the President Elect, Deputy President Education Elect, Vice President Welfare Elects, and Vice President Activities Elect, where an investigation was launched by an external returning officer.
Earlier in the day, the results of the investigation were announced. Ajesh Raj Kolamullathil was removed as President Elect, and Jess Okwuonu was elected.
As the discussion began, three questions were being considered for the referendum question. Each person who asked a question could argue in favour of their point, whilst others could argue against.
Reece Stafferton, one of the lead campaigners of the #NotMyDSU campaign, asked ‘Should the DSU hold a re-election for the roles of DP Education, VP Welfare and Community and VP Student Activities?’ on the basis that it was a democratic and fair option, and included everyone’s struggles and concerns surrounding the election. No one argued against.
Diya Rattanpal, who ran for Women’s Representative, asked ‘Should DSU re-run the elections for all positions: full-time and part time?’ She added that there was not enough regulation in the entire election, and it would mean transparency throughout the re-election. This question seemed quite unpopular with the council. Kelly Davies (current Postgraduate Representative) chose to speak against this question, saying the elected part time officers had done nothing wrong. Colina Wright, deputy returning officer, said using the term ‘wrong’ was misleading, as anyone proved of any wrongdoing had already been removed.
Finally, Demi Rixon, the current Disability Representative, brought forward the question ‘Should the DSU re-run all of the FTO (Full Time Officer) positions?’, mainly on the basis that it’s not fair to reopen the Part Time Officer roles, as there’s been no allegations against them. Gavin McMinn (President of DMU Conservative Society), spoke against this question – saying it is not in the best interested for DSU nor the students to rerun all FTO positions, as the social media outcry was only the four positions as detailed earlier.
However, before a vote could be called, Basil Ali Pottammal (VP Activities Elect), asked to make a speech. In this speech he detailed how he and the other members of his campaign team (President Elect, DP Education Elect, VP Welfare Elect), had felt racism towards them, and their disappointment in the reaction to the election. He said only Ajesh had been found guilty of any wrongdoing, and that the others had done nothing wrong. Therefore, Pottamall, Muhammed Shanib (DP Education Elect), and Jasmine Libiya Jerald (VP Welfare Elect) had made the decision to resign from their positions.
“This is my university. I love being a DMU student but with a great disappointment… we’ve had to go through this bullying, this discrimination… so after all, the three of us have decided to resign from this post. We believe you all will be happy with our decision” – Basil Ali Pottammal.
This was met with applause from Pottamal’s campaign team, and later at the end of his speech the entire council.
Deputy Returning Officer, Colina Wright, then revealed that due to this action, Tiffanie Roberts, Sophie Hamilton and Derrick Mensah were all duly elected as DP Education, VP Welfare and Community and VP Activities respectively.
There was still an opportunity to hold a referendum, but the initiator of the original petition withdrew, and the council voted to not hear any speeches from students who would like to claim ownership.
Artesham Mahmood said after the meeting ‘I’m very pleased that students were able to mobilise and voice their concerns and to meet on such a platform and have a constructive discussion on how to move forward… I was pleased that people were expressing their opinions and that we arrived at a prompt result, I wasn’t expecting anything, there were a lot of twists and turns. I’m happy that students are happy, and that’s the most important thing.”
For the full statement, go to: https://www.demontfortsu.com/news/article/dsu/An-update-regarding-the-2018-DSU-Elections-01/