A petition submitted on the LUSU website today by Andrew Williams has called for a Vote of No Confidence in external trustee and board vice-chair Graeme Osborn. Mr Williams has been relatively active in LUSU politics; he proposed the Affordable Student Housing motion which passed at the AGM.
Osborn came to notoriety during the LUSU AGM on 28th October 2019, when he sat on the far-right of a selection of LUSU officials and officers who had braved the masses to be scrutinised. During the meeting, he was the only individual to defend the Sugarhouse sale, in the face of moving testimony from students. He answered many of the questions by declaring that the sale 'was in the best interests of the charity' and that students could not possibly mandate trustees to do something. He deferred, frequently, to the amorphous and omnipotent 'charity law'.
The petition calling for a Vote of No Confidence cited a number of reasons why Mr Osborn was not fit to hold office as a trustee of LUSU. They included:
- Failure to release unredacted Sugarhouse minutes and reports
- Failure to livestream Trustee Board meetings
- Failure to oversee the appointment of a student trustee by Week 8
- Misleading students by saying trustees cannot be bound by a referendum result
- Overseeing appointment of a commercial property lawyer as head of the task group deciding the Sugarhouse sale, creating the possibility of an indirect or direct conflict of interest
- Appointing a former senior University manager as external trustee, again creating the potential for consistent conflicts of interest
- Inflicting reputational harm on LUSU and the University by not properly scrutinising the Aparto marketing deal
- Failure to abide by LUSU's own election rules, thereby compromising the integrity of LUSU elections
- Unlikely to act in good faith as a fiduciary and carry out future reforms of LUSU as demanded by members
- Failure to facilitate the 'maximum number' of students attending the LUSU AGM
- Did not care about what would happen to the Sugarhouse after it was sold
Mr Osborn is used to the cut and thrust of student politics, as a former sabbatical officer for University of York Students' Union (YUSU). He has left his mark on higher education, having served on boards and committees of the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), as well as the Aldwych Group and Unions 94, which have both represented groups of students' unions. He has, however, never been subject to a Vote of No Confidence.
The petition follows a successful VNC petition last term against then-Vice President (Activities) Ben Evans. Mr Evans opted to resign instead of being subject a public vote. According to the Articles of Association, the governing document of LUSU, a VNC petition must be signed by 2% of students (which is over 300) before it is put to a referendum, in which 10% of students (over 1500) must vote and 2/3 of them must vote that they have no confidence.
The petition has called for any VNC vote to be held alongside the FTO elections later in the term.
The petition is on the LUSU website and can be signed here.