‘On reflection it was thoughtless’: Students React to VP for Welfare’s Social Media Misconduct

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Full-Time Officer for Welfare and Community Grishma Bijukumar has come under fire for an Instagram story that was posted to her Union account on Sunday. The story in question featured a photograph of Student’s Union documents with the caption, ‘Had two weeks to review the new proposed bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct policy… Doing it the day before, oops.’ 

Bijukumar’s post was quickly noticed by students who shared it across social media, notably on the Facebook group ‘Overheard at Lancaster.’ The user who shared the Instagram story said, ‘Is it just me or is this really not a great thing to boast about on social media? Pretty sure the welfare and community officer should be a tad bit more attentive than that?’

Many users shared their thoughts, with one stating that they have ‘No confidence’ in Bijukumar’s abilities while another suggesting that sexual misconduct must not matter outside of elections. Others defended her actions, suggesting that Bijukumar ‘Wouldn’t have put her hat forward if she didn’t care about the students.’ 

Bijukumar later released a statement apologising for her actions:

‘Dear members of Lancaster University Students’ Union,

I (Grishma) apologise to everyone to whom I have caused offence, or have given reason to question my commitment as an officer, by the post I made yesterday. On reflection it was thoughtless. I understand why people have reacted in this way. I want to assure you that your welfare representation has not been neglected, nor will it be. 

I take my duties very seriously. The review of the University’s Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy is very important and required proper time and space to look at it. I can reassure you that the policy has been in review for a considerable amount of time and has been carefully considered by myself and others. I am truly sorry.’ 

Grishma Bijukumar

When running for her position in February 2019, she stated in her manifesto that her key policies would be sexual misconduct, mental and sexual health and to provide greater support for liberation and minority groups.  In an interview with SCAN at the time, she said when looking at national statistics and recent events, we should make sure that ‘students of all backgrounds feel safe on campus.’ Grishma also stated that she would work ‘hand in hand’ with the liberation groups and PTO’s and would consult with them before making any major policy changes.

In response, a students’ union spokesperson said: “The University policy in question is extremely important and its review has been given proper consideration by officers and supporting staff in the Students’ Union”.

This is a developing story.

Olivia Kenny

Hi! I'm Olivia (but everyone calls me Liv) and I'm the Associate Editor for SCAN for 2019-2020. I was previously the News Editor and have contributed to the section since the beginning of my first year. Now in my third year, SCAN is a huge part of my University life. Feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions, I'd love to hear from you!

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