The management of LUSU has been put under great strain at the start of Lent Term, as a student trustee has resigned and the Executive Committee have rejected candidates to replace them. This news comes as a petition of no confidence has been submitted in board vice-chair Graeme Osborn.
At the same meeting on 14th January where the Executive Committee rejected the application of the Friends of Israel Society to affiliate, the committee also rejected two candidates for the role of student trustee. Spineless understands they were rejected on the basis that, following the referendum result that said the Trustee Board should have a majority of student-elected representatives, the positions will be elected in the future.
However, it is unclear when the Articles of Association will be altered in order to facilitate the election of student trustees. Spineless has little hope that LUSU will carry out the AGM's Democratisation motion in good faith, if at all. That motion, which was passed a month before the referendum result, called for a fully-elected Trustee Board and a Constitutional Convention. Instead, LUSU has made the decision to bring in an external consultant to conduct a governance review.
The rejection of the two student trustee candidates coincided with the resignation of Jenna Higham, a Politics PhD student, from the Trustee Board. She leaves Kathy New, a LEC/Computing PhD student, as the only remaining student trustee. The failure to appoint any undergraduate trustees is clearly against the spirit of the Articles of Association, which says 'There should be at least one undergraduate and postgraduate student.'
An interesting development revealed by LUSU releasing two sets of Trustee Board minutes is that former student trustee Abiola Adelabu was appointed to a second, one-year term in the June 2019 meeting, to serve from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, even though he left the University at the end of the 18/19 academic year. The purpose of his re-appointment in this meeting is unclear.
The petition of no confidence in board vice-chair Graeme Osborn has made LUSU's headache even worse. If it reaches a threshold of 2% of member signatures, the petition must be put to a referendum of the student body. If enough vote to get rid of Mr Osborn, LUSU may be forced to enact democratic reforms if only to simply have enough trustees!
It may be that LUSU's interpretation of the referendum result is that the way to achieve a 'majority of student-elected representatives' is to leave enough vacancies so that the sabbatical officers are in a majority, but surely not even LUSU could hold such a bad faith interpretation of democracy?