As the newly elected Sabbatical Officers’ for the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU) take their seats, a major issue on the agenda is the future of the Policy Process, which was suspended in June. New statements from both sides shed light on the continuing conflict.
A complaint made to the previous President of the Students’ Union, Alex Urquhart, by a student against Josh Mackenzie, Policy Coordinator, resulted in the suspension of the Policy Process at the end of term last month. Now, as Urquhart’s term is at an end, it is up to his successor, James Durcan, to resolve the situation.
In a statement made on the 11th July by the new Sabbatical Officers’, it is expressed that there has been a lack of compromise on behalf of Mackenzie to relinquish his position as Managing Director at York Vision, which they feel creates a “conflict of interest”. Until then, it appears that the suspension of the Policy Process will continue:
“We feel that this conflict, and the reluctance to work with the team to address the concerns that have been raised by members of the Union has compromised the team’s confidence in the Policy Coordinator…They have declined to voluntarily and independently choose a position and resolve the conflict. They have stated that they want to retain all current roles and responsibilities within the policy process, student media and indeed any other student group.”
In response, Josh Mackenzie released a statement raising serious issues concerning the “accuracy of the information provided and the tone of the statement.” He was made aware of the content of the statement prior to its publication but states that the issues he raised were “not responded to.” He argues that the Sabbatical Officers’ statement
“is inaccurate and does not provide a factual representation of the situation. The sabbatical team alleges that the Policy Coordinator has shown a reluctance to work with them to address the concerns that have been raised – this is simply untrue.”
In his statement, Mackenzie argues that he offered to resign from York Vision, conflicting with the statement from the Sabbatical Officers’ which Mackenzie suggests it attempting to depict him as “petty” and “unwilling to compromise”. When invited by The Yorker to comment, Mackenzie added:
“I’m disappointed by the inaccurate portrayals made by the sabbatical team’s statement, and that no effort was made to correct them when they were raised prior to its release.”
When The Yorker invited Durcan to comment on Mackenzie’s statement, he responded:
“I have not received a copy from the individual and thus am not in a position to comment. However, as outlined in our original statement, we intend to work with the Policy Coordinator to resolve the matter as quickly as possible and hope that we can continue discussions with Josh.”
In the meantime, the Sabbatical Officers’ have stated that policies submitted will still be reviewed and that they are working to ensure that a fair system “generates good quality outcomes for all students, rather than a select few.”
This article initially inaccurately stated that the Policy Coordinator had been suspended, however it was the Policy Process that was suspended. It has since been changed to reflect this.
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