A member of the Union’s standing committee has been forced to resign after missing five out of six meetings this term, leading to suspicion that the Union’s attendance policy has not been properly enforced.
Hasan Ali broke Union rules which state that committee members can only miss three meetings a term unless “extraordinary circumstances” arise.
The fifth meeting Ali missed this term was because of a tutorial, which he would have normally been expected to rearrange, Union sources have said.
The committee held a vote this week to decide if a tutorial qualified as an extraordinary circumstance, and only the President, Laura Winwood, voted in Ali’s favour.
Winwood said she found written evidence from Ali that he was ill in 4th week, rendering his fourth absence an “extraordinary circumstance”, and thus reducing his absences to three.
But Winwood has since decided that Ali cannot, under Union rules, retain his place on Standing Committee.
Six members of standing committee told The Oxford Student that they did not think Ali should still be on Standing Committee, and that Winwood’s original interpretation of the rules had been wrong.
Union spokeswoman Marta Szczerba said Winwood was simply following precedent.
“In the past, tutorials have been allowed as an extraordinary circumstance,” Szczerba said.
One Union member said he liked to think the President “was just taking a day to decide”.
“Either that, or she went mental and someone told her so,” he said.
The Union rules state: “In the case of all members of the Standing Committee… any member being absent without good reason from three ordinary meetings…in the same term or three meetings of the Consultative Committee, in the same term, shall be deemed to have resigned from their respective Committees and if he be a Junior Officer, from his office.”
The rules go on to say that absences may be passed as extraordinary at the following week’s meeting, if written proof is presented of illness or examinations. But this procedure has not been followed consistently this term.
The scandal is reminiscent of events in Michaelmas term 2009. The treasurer-elect Ash Sangha was forced to resign in November after missing a number of meetings without providing any explanation. The rules on absences were subsequently tightened.
One Union member, who wished to remain anonymous, blamed the secretary for failing to keep detailed minutes of this term’s meetings and the President for failing to take decisive action.
“Everyone has screwed up,” he said.
Another Union member who also wished to remain anonymous said that as a member of Standing Committee, Ali’s only job was “to turn up once a week. If he doesn’t do that, he shouldn’t be on Committee.”