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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Notes on a scandal: No Confidence in the London Student Editor.

by Susuana Antubam,
Outgoing President of Rhul Feminism Society 
University of London Women's Officer Elect 

This blog post is about the motion of no confidence in the current London Student Editor, which you can read on the ULU website here. There have been a lot of things said revolving this situation. Here are my two cents - as an intersectional feminist, a future liberation sabbatical officer, a disabled student and a blog and zine editor.

The first time FemSoc ran into the London Student Editor was when the London student published a debate section which included extremely transphobic comments. RHUL Fem Soc and LGBT+ Soc have worked very closely with our SU to educate people on gender, gender neutral toilets and send the message out that transphobia is not tolerated in our feminism or anywhere on campus. Instead of taking any responsibility for the upset and potential damage caused, the editor took to Twitter to defend the publishing of piece. When Trans* members of Femoc messaged the Editor expressing their concerns, these were met with hostility and it was a fight just to get an apology from the paper. We have zero tolerance for transphobia on our campus - the fact that the situation occurred in the first place and the way it was subsequently handled, I believe is a justifiable reason why many students on campus have no confidence in the London Student Editor.

For all you non-student union hacks, the NCFAC stands for the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts. The article posted on the London Student website "Editor to be sacked by ULU Senate for "copy errors"" claims that Joe Rayment, who proposed the motion and who is Royal Holloway's Representative at ULU Senate is a leading member of the NCFAC. Joe Rayment isn't a member of the NCFAC and has never been one; therefore this is a lie. Joe Rayment acts as a representative for Royal Holloway which, as I have already explained, has policy against transphobia. Therefore, if only for that reason alone, he is fully justified in proposing this motion. Also:
1. Lies shouldn't be part of London-wide/World-wide-web news.
2. If you are going to try and create this NCFAC master which hunt plan storyline, you shouldn't make up members of the NCFAC

Although it is claimed that the current London Student Editor did not partake in this issue, she is the Editor of the London Student, the most official media platform for elections. Therefore it is her responsibility to make sure unbiased information is presented. (How a sabbatical officer is even allowed to take leave to campaign for someone else is beyond me, but that's another issue). The fact that the London Student took a clear position on which candidate they favoured is unfair, and it was this act that messed up the elections. The London Student's following issue sent a completely different message, claiming to be the voice of reason despite causing the mess that started it anyway.

The London Student Editor contacted the ULU Part- time Disabled Officer Elect to get him to sign her petition on the ground that she was being sacked because of her disability. Whilst the draft motion may have included 'copy errors' as one of its many oppositions, the official motion of no confidence did not say that she was being sacked because of spelling mistakes - which is the message she is trying to portray. The Part- time Disabled Officer Elect wasn't updated with this information and when he saw the official motion, realised he was being manipulated and retracted his support. As a friend of the Disabled Officer (who I know is a dedicated and passionate campaigner for disabled students at Goldsmiths and will be excellent at ULU), I believe that how he was treated and made to feel in this ploy is disgraceful. Secondly, as a dyslexic student that manages a blog and edits a magazine, I know it can be hard to keep on top of things. But you know what helps? Proof readers! I have quite a few who are happy to read over things for free. You would think an editorial team could manage that. There are cases to be made involving discrimination against people with learning difficulties; trust me, I know. But this isn't one.

Over the past year I have seen the London Student paper been used to destroy peoples credibility for the personal benefit of the London Student Editor. Just in case you are wondering, I am not a leading member of the NCFAC. I am a disabled media student who doesn't like to be screwed over. When I vote I like to think the person elected can be held accountable, and face criticism constructively. It is because of this that I have no confidence in the London Student Editor.

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