Our Spring magazine is finally here! Click here to view and read our new articles!

YUSU policy process suspended following complaint against Policy Coordinator

YUSU policy
Credit: YUSU: https://scontent-lht6-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/23517963_297877310730505_8170810089152815716_n.png?_nc_cat=0&oh=a181e525ffb2ec56d814be2efb8cb16b&oe=5BB3D014
YUSU policy
Credit: YUSU: https://scontent-lht6-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/23517963_297877310730505_8170810089152815716_n.png?_nc_cat=0&oh=a181e525ffb2ec56d814be2efb8cb16b&oe=5BB3D014

The final YUSU policy process of the academic year has been suspended in light of an anonymous complaint submitted against the Policy Coordinator.

The Policy Coordinator, Josh Mackenzie, announced at 10:21 this morning that the meeting to conclude the policy process, which has been ongoing since the beginning of this academic term, had been cancelled and that the policy process “will remain suspended until further notice.”

In his Facebook post, Mackenzie made clear that he disagreed with YUSU President Alex Urquhart’s decision to suspend the process, writing that “The view of the Policy Coordinator is that this clause is unworkable, hasn’t been previously enforced (the two previous holders of the role would have been ineligible under it), and only still exists due to the update to the bylaws that was due last summer (to coincide with incorporation) not having been implemented.”

According to Mackenzie, the YUSU President, Alex Urquhart, is using a power found in “Clause 16 of Bylaw 9”. That specific Clause of the Bye-Law states that: “The Union President takes overall responsibility for running the Policy Process fairly and in such a way as to broaden involvement and ensure those most affected have a say and the opportunity to design how they participate.”

Mackenzie commented that “It is the view of the Policy Coordinator that this represents overreach and misinterpretation of the clause. The Policy Coordinator believes that this clause is clearly intended for determining the structure of the process, and not meant to provide the president with a veto.”

In a Facebook post describing his actions, Urquhart said: “I have been asked to consider a complaint about a breach of bye-laws in relation to the role of Policy Coordinator and the PRG. Regrettably, until the matter is resolved, I am not confident that the process can be run fairly and have therefore suspended the policy process.”

Urquhart added: “I will do everything I can to make this as swift a process as possible. I appreciate a lot of time and effort has gone into these policy proposals, but the integrity of the process is my absolute priority and is something I will not compromise under any circumstances.”

Responding to Urquhart’s comments, Mackenzie told The Yorker: “I appreciate the view that Alex 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 held concerns, but he unwilling to entertain them.”

Some students have reacted critically to the news that the policy process has been suspended. The Co-Chair of University of York Labour Club, Jack Galea, wrote in a statement to The Yorker:

I am disappointed that Alex Urquhart and the 2017/18 Sabbatical team have opted to cancel the policy cycle. This is the second time this term this has happened and it is further disappointing this has occurred. I offer my full support to Josh Mackenzie and the statement he has released, and support any calls for a vote of no confidence or censure in the 2017/18 sabbatical team should this policy cycle not occur. This event is evident of the fact that York is exceptional among universities in that the policy process works for Sabbs not students and it is urgent that the policy process is reformed so that it works for the latter.

Secretary of York Tories, Jacob Groet, wrote in a statement to The Yorker:

Getting rid of the policy process means that a very important policy will not be considered. A policy regarding plans to commemorate the centenary of the end of WW1 will not be heard, and it would appear YUSU has no plans at all with regard to this monumental event.

Therefore, without the policy, I would personally emplore whichever of YUSUs seemingly endless committees, executives, officers and bureaucrats to plan a commemoration for the centenary.

With such farses as these, how can RON lose the next election?

The Yorker awaits a response to an invitation to comment extended to Alex Urquhart.

This article was updated with a comment from the Secretary of the York Tories, Jacob Groet.