Your Reactions: VNC or Sympathy?

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Comment Editor, Tamara Krivskaya, collates student’s opinions on Grishma Bijukumar’s recent social media post, in her comment piece on the debate.

We’ve all left an assignment until the last minute and rushed through it the night before it is due. There’s a double standard when it comes to our student body representatives, and perhaps rightly so. Either way, the post we’re talking about, on the ‘Overheard at Lancaster’ Facebook page, has gotten over 100 comments since it went up this week, certainly dividing public opinion.

Some believe that the current Welfare and Community FTO has demonstrated incompetence and should be held accountable for her actions (‘actions’ here refer to her making a poorly judged Instagram story on her professional account). This criticism has a point. As one student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has pointed out: “the Welfare Officer involves the most trust from, and responsibility towards, students. These actions show a disregard for that trust and accountability”. The same student reported that Grishma’s actions left her feeling “severely disappointed, betrayed and distressed”. I can’t argue with that; someone who is supposed to be protecting students who may be at their most vulnerable – perhaps following a sexual assault case – should instil trust, first and foremost. A blasé Instagram story like the one in question does not do much to build that kind of trust.

Yet, the irony is not lost on some of the other commentators, that by leaving the review of the ‘Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy’ until the last minute, Grishma has attracted a considerable amount of online bullying and harassment herself. Another student – Jordan – had this to say on the matter: “…is it really necessary to insult, berate and humiliate Grishma over this? Ridiculous that the people who care the most about the ‘Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy’, are also the very same people jumping to bully and harass the individual in question”.

Whether you have sympathy for the current Welfare and Community FTO, or whether you believe there should be a Vote of No Confidence (I’m looking at you, people using the hashtag #GrishmaGate), this is the dark side of having an election system based on popularity – once you’re no longer popular, it doesn’t matter how well you’ve been doing your job up until that point. This is cancel culture, personified. Take a good look at it and ask yourselves if, maybe, instead of starting a vicious personality smear campaign, we should reconsider the way we elect our representatives in the Student’s Union in the first place. There is enough to warrant a serious change to the system, if you ask me.

*9:30am, 25th September- Edited by Lewis Marriott, VP for Campaigns & Communications*

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