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A Union spokesperson said at 16:56 today (6th November 2019), “Ben Evans, Vice-President Activites, has today resigned his position at Lancaster University Students’ Union with immediate effect.”
“Since the information about the negotiations for a potential sale of The Sugarhouse was leaked, Ben has felt under considerable pressure, in terms of his mental health and wellbeing.
“The decision to engage in negotiations was taken collectively by the whole Trustee Board. The focus on Ben and attempts to blame him alone are unwarranted. The personal attacks to which he has been subjected are unjustified. It is to his credit that in spite of this he continued to perform his role as VP Activities.
“However, he has now decided that for his own health and wellbeing he has to resign. We are very disappointed that Ben has been put in a position where he feels he has to take this decision, but we fully respect his reasons for doing so.
“We would like to thank Ben for his work for students at the Union since his election and the valuable contribution he has made to the team. We will miss him very much and we all wish him well for the future. In the meantime, we are ensuring that Ben’s duties are fully covered while arrangements are made for the election of someone to take over his role. We will keep students fully informed of this process.
“Our Advice Team are available to provide independent and confidential support any students. They can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org”
Ben Evans made a statement on Facebook:
“As of Wednesday 6th at 5 pm, I have chosen to resign as VP Activities of Lancaster University Students’ Union. This was a very painful decision to make as I have been excited to do this role since the day I got elected but, due to the intentional actions of others, I feel forced into this decisions as I cannot continue to do this job without further implications on my mental health and happiness.
“Since the information of the negotiations of the Sugarhouse’s potential sale were leaked, the actions of individuals that have followed have been full of intimidation and bullying and has left me feeling as if there is not other choice but to resign. I made the decision that I did around the Sugarhouse in my role as a trustee, and only a trustee, as we are required to separate our Full-Time Officer self from our Trustee self. This was an incredibly difficult decision for me to make as I used to work at Sugar myself for a number of years, as well as having best friends that used to work there and still do […]
“I found out about the leak of Sugarhouse information whilst I was in Peru, from someone else on the trip as I hadn’t had a phone signal for the last 5 days […] I have suffered from panic attacks whilst in a different country with no support, battled with anxiety from simply walking around and being on campus scared of being hounded by students when waling in town and by groups such as LA1 TV in my own workplace. This isn’t being held to account or being scrutinised – these are attacks that have made me feel unsafe for the last two months. There is zero separation in this job, and it has had a painful effect on my wellbeing.
“I truly believe that the head of the VNC campaign against me and the SU President have both sought out the same end – to strong-arm me into changing my decision, or to get me out of office. Through lifting the embargo and allowing the officers to take a political stance and then allowing them to reveal their voting stance (breaking the Trustee code and collective responsibility), and blatantly intimidating me by fabricating reasons for the VNC petition against me, they have sought out to undemocratically get me out of the way, so that they can get theirs. Democracy and politics is built on people having different views and debating those views, not publicly outing them and forcing them out of a role through bullying and intimidation. Some of the people instrumentally involved in this over the last two months need to seriously look at themselves, as individuals, and see the horrible consequences that they have caused as one and as a collective. All of these people have targeted me, vilified me, and hurt me through their actions, constantly, for the last two months. These are nasty and destructive people that I can’t work with anymore.
“There are so many different ways I have been feeling over the last couple of months and my mental health has been so low over this time. I have felt alone, scared and devastated that I have been backed into this corner, and feeling as if there was no out. However, I don’t regret the way I have behaved or acted as I have done everything for the right reasons. As hard as it is to leave some amazing people and projects behind, I need to get away from this place for my own sake. In my brief 4 months, I have made some amazing friends and memories whilst being on the way to make some real positive change. I ran for this role to do just that, and it is hard to comprehend that I won’t get the chance to fully do this.
“Finally, I just want to say the biggest thank you to everyone who has supported me during this time. All of the staff in the Students’ Union, University and everyone who has reached out to me have been incredible in helping me through this. It really shows you what good there are in some people and that are never really alone.”
Update – The Full Time Officers respond to Evans’s statement:
Note: The Full Time Officer (FTO) Team responded collectively as elected officers, not on behalf of the Students’ Union as an institution.
“We have read Ben’s personal statement carefully; we take on board what he has said, and will reflect on the points he has raised.
“Firstly, we would just like to repeat our thanks to Ben, for the contribution he has made, which he rightly highlighted in his statement. We will endeavour to continue the work he has done and build on that legacy as best we can, to support students.
“There are serious allegations in Ben’s statement, and it would be inappropriate for us to comment on them, or respond individually.
“In all of this we have tried to be as transparent as we can be, within the constraints of commercial confidentiality and collective responsibility. We fundamentally believe in democracy and we always listen to the student voice and we have acted as we have been mandated to do by the Annual General Meeting. We stand by, understand and respect confidentiality.
“Obviously, reading Ben’s statement we are very sorry that he feels the way he does. We believe the Students’ Union did its best to support him through this and if he feels we let him down then that is a matter of great regret for us. We would just say that we have all been under pressure as an officer team and this has been a very difficult time for everyone.
“Your Full Time Officer Team.”