The Vice President of Education, Edd Bauer, has been formally removed as a Guild Trustee following a 'full and comprehensive investigation'.
In a note on the Facebook 'Guild of Students "Better Guild Forum"', Mark Harrop, Guild President, announced the decision that had been made on April 23rd in a meeting of student and sabbatical trustees. The meeting had been called to 'discuss the behaviour of Edd Bauer, Vice President of Education, ask questions of him as a guild trustee and hold a vote of no confidence in accordance with article 22 of the Memorandum and Articles of Association.'
Bauer did not attend the meeting and reportedly did not send apologies, despite being asked to by the chair in a letter dated April 5th and a subsequent two times. Although attempts were made to contact Bauer at the meeting on both his personal and work mobile phones, he did not respond.
Below are the allegations that led to the eventual removal of Bauer as a trustee.
The Demonstration on February 15th
Bauer was a lead officer on this protest but did not stick to the agreed route and did not communicate this to the stewards or sabbatical officers. As a lead officer on the protest he was considered to have more influence in deviating than other students especially as he read out a health and safety notice before the demonstration began. This meant that 'stewards and Guild staff were completely unprepared for this and the lack of control and preparation could not be effectively managed.' There were also issues about Bauer bringing external groups onto campus to take part in the protest without prior communication to the Guild.
Disruption of the College of Misconduct Committee hearing held in the Nuffield Building on 15th Febrary
Bauer 'entered a witness room, with a number of others, and people in the room were made to feel intimidated. There were also instances of people walking on tables and chanting.' The investigation found that this disruption 'does not meet the expectations of behaviour befitting a trustee of the Guild.'
A significant break down in working relationships with members of the Guild's Sabbatical Team
The investigation found that Bauer 'has sought to undermine other members of the sabbatical team, without talking to them about any concerns first before condemning them publically. This has led to a significant lack of trust between the rest of the team and [Bauer].' This included Bauer posting on an open forum that one of the sabbatical officers had an Israeli flag in their office, having consequences in terms of Israel/Palestine neutrality (an official Guild policy).
Social media postings
Bauer's blog called the integrity of three sabbatical trustees into question by suggesting they were trying to force through an officer disciplinary policy. This was false information and the investigation believed that 'he has misled students and therefore damaged the reputation of the Guild and the Board.' Bauer also leaked confidential University papers and threatened to leak further such papers in an open letter to the Vice Chancellor.
Attendance at meetings
Bauer missed two trustee meetings and left part way through one meeting he did attend. This meant he missed over a third of meetings, 'a significant number of board meetings to miss in one year.'
Failing to uphold Guild policy
Bauer was seen to hang a Palestinian flag outside his office window which induced a number of serious complaints 'from students who felt alarmed and uncomfortable'. This directly contravened the Guild's policy of neutrality on the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Bauer commented below the note on the open Facebook forum:
He then later commented:
The six group members of the investigation decided unanimously to uphold the vote of no confidence because of a combination of all the factors, not just one allegation on its own.
In a response on his blog to the statement put on the open forum by Mark Harrop, Bauer said:
To all the students arguing in support or against me, thanks or at least thanks for engaging with the debate rather than ignoring it. I think we all need to look at the bigger picture. At the end of the day, this is not just about me; I am at the end of my term with few trustee board meetings left. We should talk about the democratic precedent this sets in the Guild and of course the wider student movement. It is my belief that all these decisions should have been made by Guild Council. They are all judgement calls, some may back me, some may not, but the call should have been made on a balance of opinion, democratically by Guild Council.
He added, 'I may not be able to be voice on the board for fair pay but others like me will soon take my place.'
The investigation was carried out by an external trustee and was commissioned to 'establish the sequence of events following the meeting of student and sabbatical trustees; 26th March 2012 up to the VONC meeting of 23rd April, 2012; to provide a fair and balanced report of the incident and to assess where responsibility lies.'
Bauer will continue to remain as the Vice President of Education and the removal of him from the trustee board does not affect his role as an officer.