Harry Hatwell, who began impeachment proceedings against the former Union President last week, has called on the University to sever all ties with the Oxford Union.
Brendan McGrath resigned after Hatwell’s motion reached 150 signatures in just six hours, with a string of senior Union figures resigning in protest. A change.org petition calling for McGrath’s resignation attracted over 58,000 signatures.
Hatwell told Cherwell: “While I welcome Brendan’s resignation, I am unconvinced that the Union really has changed and the group I worked with on the impeachment process will continue to press for reform.
“Having met with the Union’s Acting President yesterday to discuss changes to the Union’s staggeringly complex 252 pages of rules and to push for an independent investigation into what happened, my attention will shift to getting to grips with the Union’s structural arrangements, as well as writing to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson, asking her to formally end all links between the Union and the University.
“I have also begun sifting through reports and trust deeds in order to make a complaint to the trustees of the bodies that run the Union, as well as to the Charity Commission. It is heartening that we reached 301 signatures (151 more than we needed) within just a few hours of putting the impeachment motion up but now we need to use that momentum to force through real change. My message to all Union committee members is this: if you do not feel that change is necessary or that you will not work for it, then now is the time to step down.”
Following McGrath’s resignation, Hatwell met with Acting President Sara Dube.
Dube called an emergency committee meeting looking into the controversy on Thursday. The meeting discussed potential future meetings with disability advisory services, professional review of staff, equality training for staff and committee, and the complaints process.
In a Facebook post, the Oxford Union announced the motions passed by the Standing Committee (TSC). The motions will “address preliminary steps that must be taken at the Oxford Union to pave the way for longer-term reform.”
The motions are as follows: “1. TSC recommends that it passes a new disability policy after consultation with external advisors before the end of Michaelmas Term 2019.
“2. TSC recommends that the Acting President creates a form entitled Consultation on Union Accessibility on Thursday November 21st.
“3. TSC recommends that all Union staff and committee receive mandatory disability, race awareness, and implicit bias training in each term if they haven’t received in the past year, subject to the advice of external advisors.
“4. TSC commits to working with the Trustees of the Oxford Union to undertake a comprehensive review of all practices, policies, and structures of the Union.”
Dube, previously the PresidentElect, will continue her tenure as President into Hilary term.
Dube told Cherwell: “Addressing this incident and ensuring that something like this never happens again is my absolute priority going forward.”