Exclusive: VP Activities​ responds to VNC

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VP Activities, Ben Evans, has this evening released a statement in response to recent events. This follows a public petition reaching the required number of votes for consideration calling for a Vote of No Confidence (VNC) against him.

Here is what Ben Evans had to say:

A statement about the Vote of No Confidence petition of me in my role as VP Activities*.

I’d just like to start by saying the last two months have been incredibly challenging for me, as the situation I have been placed in regarding the leak of Sugarhouse information and the VNC petition against me is something I have struggled to deal with, as would the majority of people. I would like to offer some perspective, from my side, of all the arguments made for a referendum for my removal from office.

My desk gathering dust – The desk referred to has not been my workspace for a number of weeks. However, to date there has been no explanation as to why. Due to a variety of different reasons, my relationship with the other Full Time Officers has deteriorated and has reached the point where we have sought out different work arrangements to ensure everyone is comfortable enough at work, and for our own welfare. This is not to the detriment of students being able to see me as their representative. Unless I am off of work, or in a meeting, I am fully available for students to reach me as the welcome desk can call up to get me; or they can bring a student upstairs to see me which I believe is a more than suitable arrangement. I have been out and about meeting students and in particular groups both during Welcome Week and since.

The issue on my lack of transparency – The circumstances behind my update being missing from a whiteboard next to some Officers desks in the Students’ Union has been misrepresented. It is true my updates had not been written but I was not in work on the day I got told to write objectives on a white board, we have to do it for that week hence why my section was clear – I can assure you that board was not a reflection on the work I was doing that week. In terms of transparency the board is not really visible to most students anyway.

Social Media Presence – In terms of my social media presence as an Officer, in Welcome Week I took over the Union’s channel for a day to ensure students knew about my portfolio and our amazing groups and activity at Freshers Fair. We have a communications team to flag awareness of events and activities to students. I am careful how and when I use social media – for me it is much more than profiling and isn’t just about saying I’m busy. I’d much rather be talking to students face to face and hearing about their needs and problems. I am however happy to increase my presence on social media.

For the reasons flagged above I have not tended to undertake events and activities with the other Officers. This is why I don’t feature in Instagram posts. This does not mean that I don’t care about issues such as welfare. In fact, I was active in Welcome Week supporting the safety of students on The Big Nights Out. I had also been informed by staff that we had a fantastic team of welfare ambassadors and that ideally Officers would pop by and say hello but were not needed to staff the stall. It was understood we had other roles to play.

Attendance at Union Executive – I did not attend the Executive Committee due to being on annual leave. In fact, I was still at the airport and therefore made the effort to try and tune in to the live stream, which only partly worked. I did not have the chance to see the whole meeting and to fully understand the nuances of it: the subjects discussed and votes. I would not have been able to vote with full confidence and integrity and I was not made aware of the possibility of voting by proxy anyway.

It is my belief that this VNC is not really about my performance as an Officer but is really a misrepresentation of myself to serve the needs of the campaign around the Sugarhouse.

This has been the hardest couple of months of my life. I have gone from being in a role that I love and was so excited to do to finding myself being fearful for my own safety and wellbeing. This job follows you around at all times – there is no separation. There is so much good to do that simply gets overshadowed by witch hunts and social media trolling. I have never felt so uncomfortable to just be myself as a person, in and outside of the office.

Despite the support of staff and fellow Trustees, I, for my welfare and the sake of my own mental health, as of tomorrow, will be taking temporary leave from my post as I cannot continue to do this without having serious personal and damaging implications.

Finally, I want to highlight that in between everything going on to do with the Sugarhouse campaign and the VNC petition, there is so much good being done that can and does have hugely positive impacts on a vast number of people. This is by Officers, staff, student staff and volunteers. Let’s not lose sight of this.

Thank you for reading this.”

This is an ongoing 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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