Homerton SU president out

Katie Spenceley 25 January 2008

Homerton’s sabbatical student union president has resigned after a controversial vote of no confidence.

Cassell Carter, who was elected last year, left the role permanently on Sunday. She was paid £500 a month working full time as her college’s student union president.

The no confidence vote was called by the executive after concerns were raised over a breakdown in communications between Carter and her team.

But whilst the vote passed with a two-thirds majority, it has emerged that not all Homerton students were happy with the executive’s decision.

A source close to the committee, who asked not to be named, told The Cambridge Student (TCS):

“Cassell resigned after a dubious vote of no confidence. This motion was a vote taken in the president’s absence.”

“Those of us who were concerned with this process have two main points of contention,” the student continued.

“Firstly, the fact that Cassell was not able to respond to criticism in an open forum before the vote of no confidence was taken. Secondly, the fact that the concerns of the instigators of the vote of no confidence were not made known to the student body.”

The anonymous insider alleged: “Many of us feel that Cassell has been the victim of a sustained series of Machiavellian actions our greatest concern is with the underhand way in which these problems have been dealt with.”

“It is widely known within Homerton that the two people who drove the events against Cassell were Josh Jowitt, External Vice President, and Nikki Gratton, Homerton Union of Students (HUS) treasurer,” the source claimed.

It is believed that tensions between Carter and three other key committee members (Jowitt, Gratton, and former internal vice president Sam Hinton) led to difficulties in the run-up to Carter’s resignation.

Speaking to TCS, former president Carter said: “What emerged was that those three essentially worked together, but without me, and then worked against me.”

She admitted that the problems dated back to Michaelmas term.

“To be honest the meetings weren’t as regular as they should have been,” she said. “I hoped to rectify that this term by having weekly meetings, not just with the support team but with the executive as whole.

Carter said that she had made efforts to improve exec. relations.

“I wanted to get us communicating more, having both formal and informal meetings. I explained to them that I wanted to work with them better, but unfortunately this didn’t happen,” Carter said.

“It was obviously very difficult because I’d never been President before, it was a completely new position for me, and everyone else was totally new to their jobs,” explained Carter.

“Everyone was in a real learning curve position. I was learning from last term and had hoped to bring in what I learnt to this term.”

The resignation comes a short time after the vice president internal, Sam Hinton, left his position. He cited personal unhappiness with the way the HUS was being run for his resignation.

Carter explained: “I got an email from VP internal saying he wasn’t happy, and that he either wanted things to change or he wanted to resign. He said he’d felt it for a long time but as far as I was aware, he hadn’t expressed his concerns to me.”

The official statement from the HUS executive said: “We feel that certain misunderstandings our President had concerning her role led to an irreparable breakdown of our working relationship as a team, despite the best efforts of the support team to bring these matters to her attention.

“This led the exec. as a whole to decide that we no longer had confidence in Cassell’s Presidency. This decision was communicated to her and she then chose to resign.”

They added: “Despite our differences, we at the HUS would all like to wish Cassell all the best with her future career. We lament her departure, and feel safe in saying that all at Homerton will miss her bubbly personality.”

Since Carter’s departure, Gratton and Jowitt have assumed the roles of acting president and internal vice president – a move that is not covered by the HUS constitution.

It is uncertain who will replace the president, or even if her position will be filled. Carter stated: “There is no mechanism to replace me, there is no plan about what to do. I don’t think that they are going to replace the President. They are going to replace the VP internal but then my work is going to be absorbed.”

The former president said that she was glad to be out of the student union environment. “I’ve got some temporary work – I am so happy to be home. It’s nice to be away from all the back-stabbing,” she said.

“It’s not the kind of environment I want to work in. I want to get on with my life, because I gave everything that I possibly could.”

Katie Spenceley