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Vote of no confidence submitted against YUSU President after policy process cancellation

Image: The Yorker
Alex Urquhart, YUSU President, speaking at the annual Officer Elections 2018. Image: The Yorker

A vote of no confidence has been submitted against Alex Urquhart, President of the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU), after today’s cancellation of the YUSU policy process.

Huw James, a Third Year student of Linguistics, submitted a vote of no confidence (VONC) to the Policy Coordinator today, passing his motion on student media publications.

James submitted his VONC in response to “petty squabbling [that caused] the entire policy process to collapse.” Attributing blame to Alex Urquhart, James described this as “grossly unprofessional and on top of failure of NUS policy in January, accounts to a major failure on YUSU’s behalf.”

“YUSU have twice failed to act on [students’] calls for YUSU to pay respects to the centenary,” James wrote further, referring to a policy proposal of his own asking for YUSU to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.

James concludes that a vote of no confidence is the best way to “hold YUSU as an organisation [to] account.”

Sources suggest that other students have communicated their displeasure directly to the YUSU President, but The Yorker is yet to determine whether these amount to separate votes of no confidence.

Earlier today it was announced by Josh Mackenzie, the Policy Coordinator, that the policy process of this academic term has been cancelled.

The forty-five policies currently in the policy process, some of which were submitted last term but passed on to the current term due to a lack of feedback, will be suspended “until further notice,” the Policy Coordinator made clear.


Forty-five policy proposals were submitted to this term’s policy process, the first under the coordination of Josh Mackenzie. Suggestions for new YUSU policy ranged from the Union taking an active pro-choice stance in the abortion debate and creating a sixth Sabbatical role to electoral reform, the creation of a therapeutic space on campus and for YUSU to “stand up to President Trump.”

Mackenzie had intended to hold two policy processes in the term, each lasting five weeks. However, the results of the first policy process were suspended. When questioned by a student on Facebook in the ‘YUSU Policy Discussion‘ group, Mackenzie replied that the process had “Been delayed until after exams due to a load of issues that no one really has time to deal with (due to exams). Also means we won’t be able to have a second process – this was due to be announced on Monday, but again due to exams people are all really busy.”

Mackenzie promised students that there would be “some sort of solution” for students “who wanted to submit stuff in the second policy of term but now won’t be able to.” Mackenzie suggested that this might lead to the forty-five policies being carried over into the new academic year.

Josh Mackenzie told The Yorker:

I appreciate the view that Alex [Urquhart] holds, but disagree that cancelling the process was the best way to proceed. Offers were made to put in place mitigation around proposals where Alex had concerns, but he was unwilling to entertain.

Mackenzie directed The Yorker‘s reporter to his full statement, released on Facebook.

When invited to respond by The Yorker‘s correspondent, Alex Urquhart promised to provide a quote, but a quote had not been received prior to this article’s publication.

Note: the author of this article previously held the role of YUSU Policy Coordinator.