An anonymous student has started an official petition on the Warwick Student’s Union (SU) website to induce a vote of no confidence in Democracy and Development Officer (DDO) Ben Newsham.
The petition headlines the DDO’s “words and actions during the Warwick SU Student Council meeting on Tuesday 29th January 2019” as grounds for a vote of no confidence alone in the student officer.
Other accusations made in the petition include that the DDO pledged not to carry out a motion’s resolutions once passed, despite being mandated to do so; that he has acted unethically to prevent students voting on matters of representation; and that Newsham has “abused his position of power” by denying students a vote on motions, requesting instead that motions stay within Student Council rather than move to an All Student Vote.
In response to the petition, DDO Ben Newsham told The Boar: “I am confident that I have carried out my role in accordance with all rules and regulations, and that every action I have taken has been to bring real, positive change for students. I welcome the investigation by Student Council and I leave it to students to decide whether they think this petition is worth their time.”
The petition follows Newsham’s announcement on 14 February that he will be running for SU President in the SU Spring Elections under the nickname “Big Ben”.
I welcome the investigation by Student Council and I leave it to students to decide whether they think this petition is worth their time
– Ben Newsham, DDO
The petition was also posted in the “Warwick University Freshers 2018-2019 – OFFICIAL SU & Uni group” yesterday, alleging that Newsham has been “denying students a say on important matters relating to representation, and abusing the power of his position to his own advantage”.
Comments on the post made on the Freshers page include accusations that the petition is part of a “smear campaign” against the DDO, suggesting that the petition is “very conveniently timed”, whilst one student said that he “had heard” that there has been motions in the SU “which were unprofessionally acted upon”.
When asked about the petition made against Ben Newsham, President Liam Jackson confirmed that an investigation by the Student Council will now be made into the allegations against the DDO.
He continued: “I would implore students to make their decision based upon the facts.”
Newsham was elected as DDO last Spring, with main policies including working on the SU app, improving bus services and making democracy more accessible. During his time as DDO, Newsham has reduced the stolen/ lost University card fee, secured the installation of a boiling water tap in the library, and brought a microwave back to the SUHQ Workzone.