Ash Sangha has resigned from the post of Treasurer-Elect at the Oxford Union after missing three Standing and three Consultative Committee meetings.
Although the Treasurer-Elect was at first allowed to retain his position within the society due to a technicality over what were believed to be incorrectly called meetings, it has since emerged that the meetings were properly called. Sangha therefore has no choice but to resign.
During the Emergency Standing Committee held earlier this week it also emerged that Sangha was unsure why he missed the meetings. Although at first he claimed that his absence was due to illness, Stuart Cullen, President-Elect, produced an apologetic text message from Ash from that day claiming that he was busy dealing with JCR business.
Sangha then claimed that he had another defence, namely that while the Secretary had sent out details for all three of the committees in the appropriate manner, on one occasion there was no time given for the meeting he subsequently missed. James Dray, the President of the Oxford Union, was then asked to decide whether the absence of this detail was enough to render the committee meeting invalid.
Dray confirmed, “It is indeed unfortunate that Mr Sangha has had to resign, and he has done an enormous amount for the society, but in line with the rules I had no choice but to act in the way as I did.”
Ash was disappointed about his dismissal. He said, “I suppose it’s inevitable that people will look for political motivations behind the accusations. To be honest, I think it’s more important for officers to concentrate on running the Union then to speculate on their political futures.
“Faced with the choice between delivering the best deal for members or fulfilling some of the more arbitrary requirements of being an officer I think it makes sense to prioritise members.
If that means missing the odd meeting because you’re helping to look after speakers or getting in a van to help deliver publicity materials for the membership drive then you’ve got to ask what’s the best for members. I’m convinced that I made the right choice.”
A member of Standing Committee commented, “Turning up to Union committees is the basic requirement of a Union officer. Failing to turn up is a violation of one’s duty and is simply wrong. He was obviously very, very incompetent.”
Charlie Holt, the society’s ex-President, has defended Ash. He said, “I am deeply uncomfortable with the way Ash was dismissed on Monday for failing to attend the requisite number of committee meetings. ‘The rules are the rules’ is a favourite retort of the returning officers, but this trivial rule – a rule which carries a grossly disproportionate penalty – seems to be applied in an increasingly selective and arbitrary way.”
David Thomas, currently on Standing Committee, will be assuming the role of Treasurer-Elect next term. It was offered to him after current Secretary Lou Stoppard and Standing Committee’s Dharmesh Nayee both rejected the position.
David Thomas will also feature on the ballot for the Librarian, despite requests to be removed from the ballot. He has spoken at length about the situation during yesterday’s hustings.