By Freddie Gough
On Friday 9th February, the Students’ Union at UWE released the results of the no confidence referendum. A total of 658 votes were cast, with 548 in favour of no confidence and 110 with confidence. However, in accordance with the Union’s bye-laws, 1000 total votes were required in order for the referendum to be valid. This means that while a majority of those who voted were in favour of no confidence, the motion failed by default and SU President Zain Choudhry will remain in his position.
Shortly after the results were called, Mr Choudhry released the following statement on Facebook:
Games have been played, lies have been told, manipulation through influence has spread wildly amongst our peers. Today is a testament to show that our students have not bought into the nothing shy of Fox News styled campaigning that we have witnessed over the last week, and for that I thank you.
If humility has taught me anything, as well as all the personal experiences that one could possibly endure over the past two months; is that life is indeed very short. Grab onto the things you love and are passionate about and protect them because you never will know the day it can be snatched from you.
I purposely stepped back from this Referendum to allow students to form their own opinions and vote freely on the matter, thank you to Waleed Saleem Khan & all of my friends (you lot know who you all are) whom lead the Yes campaign and done what they thought would be best. To those who were part of the No side of the debate, know I have nothing personal against you. You have the Democratic right to do as you did, regardless of how wrongful I may have found it. As I also said back in December, we must learn to put our egos and pride aside and come to a common ground of mutual respect, learning to forgive where it’s possible – it’s a lesson we can carry with us wherever on this Earth we go, whomever we meet or interact with. As well as spreading peace around us, it’s equally (if not more) important to have inner peace within ourselves.
Success isn’t built on success. It’s built on hardship, frustration and even catastrophe as those are the moments you truly learn life lessons to take forward with you. So let this be a moment where you remember empowerment and continue building on ambitions, and not let it be something that will make you feel reluctant or put off.
I’m always open to dialogue and debate, please do not feel hesitant to approach me for any concern you may have. So with all that being said and after a very rough couple of months, both in a professional capacity and personal, I shall be heading back into action on Monday to resume my Presidency.
Peace and love.
Today, the No Confidence campaign released this statement:
On Friday, the result of the referendum was declared as 548 votes for no confidence in the Students’ Union President to 110 of those who did have confidence. We are glad to have won the popular vote of the referendum and would like to thank all the volunteers that campaigned in favour of a no vote. However, in order for the referendum to be quorate, 1000 total votes needed to be cast. Unfortunately, this was not the case, as only 658 students voted in total. This means that the SU President, Zain Choudhry, will be returning to complete his term. Whilst we are disappointed that quoracy was not reached, we believe that UWE students have indicated a clear disapproval of the actions of the SU President and a strong desire for change in the SU. The campaign period started with a debate, during which we put forth our case for why we believed that the SU President no longer had the confidence of UWE students. To Zain’s credit, he did not shy from the scrutiny of public recourse. It is, however, frustrating that the opposition sought to suppress turnout in the referendum by not running a formal or visible campaign. We are also angered by the actions of some students, who sought to defy the democratic process and consistently tear down our campaign posters in a concerted effort to reduce awareness and engagement with the referendum.
With all that said, going forward we would like to see a palpable shift in the behaviour of the SU President, as well as an explicit apology (that he has as yet to make) for his comments back in November. We hope to see him conduct himself with humility in his return, given the fact that 83% of those who voted supported no confidence. Whilst not reaching quoracy is a legitimate way to have won the referendum, we believe that Zain should acknowledge the share of the vote and move forward accordingly.
The Students’ Union at UWE requires the engagement of students in order for it to truly represent them. There is now a great opportunity for UWE students to become more aware of the function and operation of their SU and to better involve themselves in the UWE community. For the officers in the Students’ Union to best serve students, they must be held accountable for the promises they make and the actions they take. So for UWE SU to become an organisation that students are proud to be a part of, we need greater engagement and activity from the wider student community.
That way, even if the referendum did not result in the removal of the SU President, we can at least be proud of starting the process of enfranchising students to involve themselves in the Students’ Union.
During the campaign, several complaints were submitted to the Students’ Union regarding the No Confidence posters being removed. The SU subsequently launched an investigation that concluded with no disciplinary action taken against any students.
Mr Choudhry is set to return from his suspension today and will resume normal duties for the remainder of this academic year.