A motion to remove the mandate that enforced a disciplinary complaint of “dereliction of duty” against Hasan Ali, last term’s Librarian at the Oxford Union, has failed.
A Senior Disciplinary Hearing will now be organised by the Returning Officer in the next month.
The disciplinary complaint, originally brought against Ali by last term’s Union President, James Langman, had been mandated by the Standing Committee last term.
In this week’s Standing Committee meeting, concerns were raised as to the necessity of a Senior Disciplinary Hearing for Ali, with the current President, Ashvir Sangha, in particular noting the cost.
Union Press Officer, Alexander Reut-Hobbs commented, “When the complaint was bumped to SDC [Senior Disciplinary Hearing], some members of committee began to doubt whether it was worth the time, money and effort that the SDC would take, and whether other channels could be used to voice disapproval, which would be more informal, but much less costly”.
In the ensuing discussion, concerns were raised that removing the mandate would set a “worrying precedent” that the committee had the power to simply brush away such disciplinary complaints.
Although removing the mandate would leave it up to Langman whether or not he wished to pursue the complaint, the impression was given that Langman was inclined to withdraw it.
However, he would not have been able to withdraw the complaint unless the Standing Committee’s mandate was removed.
It was stressed that removing the mandate was “not passing judgement”, only leaving it up to Langman to do as he wished.
Some at the meeting also argued that as Ali was no longer in office, it would not set a worrying precedent for those who are in office.
As reported by Cherwell last term, Ali was initially condemned for “failure” to host a guest speaker and providing “conflicting, contradictory and incompatible explanations of this failure to complete his official duties”.
The vote’s failure, by six votes to five with two abstentions, ensures that the mandate remains in place, and so the complaint cannot be withdrawn by Langman.
When asked to comment on the implications of this for Ali, and for the Union, Reut-Hobbs issued a statement on the Union’s behalf, which said, “the Union doesn’t want to say anything that will pre-judge, prejudice or pressurise the SDC hearing”.