Joe Vinson, Commercial Services Officer, spoke with LBCNews about the campaign and the most recent updates on Friday 5th June. Click here to listen to the full interview.
Last week, an emergency Student Council meeting was held by our student representatives in response to the Students’ Union’s latest campaign - #QMFurloughNow. There were two motions proposed to the council, which was hosted online and broadcast live on our Facebook page, which you can view here. This will become a regular occurrence from September as part of the outcomes from the Democracy Review that took place earlier this academic year.
The first of these motions, which passed unanimously, related to the recent campaign to get Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) to allow our student staff members to access the government’s furlough scheme. This motion was set out to ratify Student Council’s support of the campaign, as well as to continue to allow the Students’ Union to support the campaign officially through the use of its organisational resources. It also sets out that the Students’ Union wants QMUL to allow the Students’ Union to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or underwrite the same amount of money that the Students’ Union could claim for under the scheme, as set out by the government guidance.
In an email that was sent to all students earlier this week, it was claimed that QMUL have sought legal advice on the matter, which they said informed their decision. Upon request, a partial copy of the legal advice was shared with Students’ Union President, Megan. However, at the request of the university, she is unable to share any of that advice with students. It is missing sections, is incomplete, and again relies on just half a sentence within the guidance, which clearly does not apply when the sentence is read as a whole.
For this reason, we are calling upon Colin Bailey and the rest of the University’s Senior Executive Team to release the legal advice that they have received in full. There are now only days left for QMUL to allow the Students' Union to access the CJRS. If they do not grant permission by then - our student staff will lose out on tens of thousands of pounds. Click the button below to respond to Colin’s email using our template and demand that he release the full, unredacted legal advice for all students to see.
In the last few weeks, the campaign has continued to attract the attention of local politicians, Members of Parliament, as well as even a celebrity or two. We’ve continued to release heartbreaking testimonials from our student staff members who are facing incredible hardship during this time. We’ve also been releasing some myth busters, highlighting the inconsistencies with the University’s explanation of why they ‘cannot’ furlough our student staff. Please take a second to help us out and spread the word about the campaign by sharing content using #QMFurloughNow!
“Should QMUL express no-confidence in QMUL’s Principal and President, Professor Colin Bailey?”
The second motion that passed unanimously was “Should QMUL express no-confidence in QMUL’s Principal and President, Professor Colin Bailey?”. The motion sets out how the University has spoken about the importance of co-creation and the University and Students’ Union working together, but have consistently failed to deliver it. The refusal to allow the Students' Union to furlough student staff is the latest example of how the University has failed to listen and respond to the student voice.
The motion stated how this year the University leadership team have also ignored student concerns on declaring a climate emergency, preserving the identity of Barts and The London, extending the university’s working day, supporting our lecturers during the UCU strikes, equity across the Queen Mary campuses, the mental and physical wellbeing of students, student safety, removal of funding for the Merger Cup and now, on the furloughing of our own student staff.
The University has also ignored students’ concerns on institutional racism, which was highlighted on Monday by their silence regarding the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement. Shamima, Vice President Welfare, contacted Sheila Gupta, Vice Principal People, Culture & Inclusion, regarding this matter and a statement has finally now been released to students which can be viewed here.
The entire Students’ Union Executive Officer team has struggled to engage with the University leadership team on the issues raised above and feel we have not been listened to. We are concerned about the culture within the University and how these actions demonstrate the wilful refusal of the University to acknowledge, respond and act on the issues students feel are important.
However, we do not feel the statement goes far enough in its commitments towards our Black community during this time and we are disappointed that students, once again, are being asked to put in the work behind creating a campus that is accessible for all. There are structural changes to the institution which are necessary and it's the University management's responsibility to facilitate these changes, not our students. Responsibility should not be solely given to those oppressed to navigate their oppression, there needs to be active effort from senior management to address and dismantle a system that is built to disadvantage the BAME community. Shamima will be contacting management further to express these feeling and demand that management do more and has further meetings scheduled with Sheila to discuss working collaboratively on this issue.
On Monday, your three Executive Officers met with the University’s Senior Executive Team for an initial discussion on some of the points that have been raised by this motion. It was agreed that the Students’ Union would start to identify some ways in which student voice can be embedded better across the University. However, this will be an incredibly long process and it is just the start.
We will keep you updated, but in the meantime, please support our student staff by emailing Colin Bailey using the template available when clicking the button below.
Joe Vinson, Commercial Services Officer
Megan Annetts, Acting Students' Union President