The Students’ Union Council has voted down the motion of no confidence levelled at Craig Cox, who will now remain in his job as Education Officer on the SU Exec. At an Extraordinary Meeting of Council, which lasted over two hours, a majority of over 60% voted in favour of Cox remaining in his job.
Cox welcomed the result, and said: “I now intend to get on with the job that I was elected to do, and to represent each and every student at the University to the best of my ability.”
Bayo Randle, President of the Black and Minority Ethnic Students’ Committee (BME), raised questions about the democracy of the event, and said: “I felt the chair lacked impartiality. I myself was not allowed to speak even though I put my hand up to speak at the same time as everyone else.” While there were around fifty protesters outside Council, no non-Council members were allowed inside the chamber.
The motion of no confidence follows allegations that Craig Cox held up a sign bearing the message ‘Bring Back Slavery’ at an NUS training course in August. While Cox does not deny these allegations, he claims that his actions were unintentional. An internal investigation by the NUS did not comment directly on this point, although it acknowledged that Cox did not write the sign himself.
The BME will continue to oppose the decision. Bayo Randle said, “If the students want Craig Cox gone, then we’re going to fight to remove him – regardless of whether he actually gets removed, the principle still remains.” There is still the possibility that a referendum could be called, were around 6,000 signatures in favour to be collected. While the BME have over 2,000 signed letters in favour of Cox being removed, there are concerns that these may be invalidated by a lack of printed names and student ID numbers on some of the letters, and multiple letters being signed by the same individuals.
The move was divisive within the SU Exec – especially since the President, Nsikan Edung, was the person to propose the motion. Edung said, “As I proposed the motion and it fell, obviously I am very disappointed with the outcome.” He said he had “no regrets” about his decision, and that he felt there “was a very strong case for Craig’s removal”; however, he added that “things will have to move forward and we shall see how the rest of the year pans out.”
Though Cox won the motion of no confidence, Council did vote in favour of a motion of censure against him.