“The NUS Black Students Campaign is incredibly troubled at the nature of the restructure at Leeds Beckett Students Union that has occurred this past year, and at the manner in which is has been passed through.
We note that there has been a replacement of nine paid part-time representatives with one ‘Equality & Diversity’ VP, and that these changes have been introduced top-down, with the Trustee Board approving them before SU Council, who had been given only two days notice even then.
We find it highly problematic that the newly created ‘VP Equality and Diversity’ is not required to identify with any of the liberation groups whose officers the role is replacing.
The nature of having liberation officers sit on the executive board of Students’ Unions is to ensure that they have an equal and participatory role in the direction of the SU, and self-determination of liberation roles and groups is paramount for this, so that their liberation is led on their terms and in the interests of those that they represent.
Relegating them to external representatives on SU Council, and placing them into ‘scrutiny’ roles, undermines this, robbing them of the ability to lead campaigns and actively take liberation issues to the University.
We recognise that the union cites the previous rumuneration of part-time officers as an incentive that doesn’t lead to equal work output, however we believe that providing part time officers with adequate training and staff support can help to dispel this trend, as well as regular accountability procedures.
Liberation officers in particularly face issues of under-resourcing and under-support on an almost nationwide basis, and from years of reports, anecdotes and experience we know that many unpaid, part-time liberation officers regularly sacrifice their time and degrees for the role, irrespective of whether it is or is not paid. Taking away the payment to these officers in particular because ‘some people may run for the money’ is thus deeply offensive and counterintuitive.
We urge Leeds Beckett SU to review these damaging changes, and to take seriously the reports of intimidation and the alienation of students who expressed concerns about the restructure.
We echo the concerns that students have flagged up, that making part-time roles entirely voluntary will mean students will have to find income elsewhere, severely limiting the time they can give to the roles. We maintain that students deserve to attend a University that accepts their varied experiences due to protected characteristics, and be part of an SU that wholly encourages representation of oppressed and marginalised groups.
We will continue to work alongside Black students at Leeds Beckett SU to support them on the issues they have raised, and hope that the outgoing and incoming officer team take into serious consideration the voices of their students and make moves to reverse this damaging change”.