Ahmad Nawaz’s presidency of the Oxford Union has come to an end following a special vote that was brought before the chamber tonight. 251 members voted in favour of forcing his resignation, with 164 voting against. This came after he failed to attend successive meetings of the access committee. Last Wednesday, multiple officers and other senior members of committee spoke out against his leadership in this paper.
The vote was done by secret ballot at the front of the room, directly in front of the president and presided over by appointed officials of the society. Due to the popularity of the event, non-members were told to leave the chamber prior to the debate, in order to make space for voting members. Results were announced after the main debate of the night, titled ‘This House Believes Woke Culture Has Gone Too Far’.
Nawaz’s presidency was imperiled over the course of the previous week when the access committee voted to reject Nawaz’s explanation of absence for missing the previous meetings, triggering an automatic resignation. Under rule 23(e)(i)(1), any member absent from three ordinary meetings without good reason during a full term is auto-resigned. The motion on Thursday was brought by Chief of Staff, Israr Khan, to overturn the decision of the Access Committee. During his floor speech, Khan claimed that the president has many committee meetings to attend, and his duties were made all the more difficult due to illness, physical as well as mental health struggles. Khan commented on the nature of the vote, telling the chamber the vote was a “political ploy to corner the president on the basis of small technicalities when there are only two weeks left of his presidency,” and that “he should not lose to dirty politics.”
Later, he urged members to vote against an access committee that he painted as highly partisan, stating “this house should pass the motion because this house is better than the access committee.”
A state school, St Charles Sixth Form College, from Ladbroke Grove was due to be in attendance at tonight’s debate on an access trip. The school only had one student admitted to Oxford in 2021, and one to Cambridge University in 2022. The school left before the debate started.
Throughout the debate numerous points of information were raised. Members frequently shouted over each other while trying to adjourn the motion. At one point, one member yelled “stop the steal” as the vote procedure was being explained. Once the vote began, the members running the event struggled to keep the chamber in order and frequently demanded that all those not in the act of voting remained seated.
After Khan, Tim Green spoke in support of the Access Committee’s decision. Other members of committees have been auto-resigned on similar grounds and Green urged members to hold the President to the same standard. On top of dereliction of duties, Green alleges that frequent absences from access committee meetings undermine the accessibility of the Union itself. If Nawaz remained president at the end of the night, Green vowed to resign. “I wouldn’t feel safe working on this committee under this current president”, he said.
Nawaz’s removal is effective immediately. HT23 President-Elect Charlie Mackintosh has taken over as acting president for the remainder of the term.
Image used with permission of the owner