‘They are using their platform to undermine one another’: Ex SU officer wades into controversy

The former VP Education officer has had their say

The former Lancaster SU officer for education has waged into the debate surrounding the current education officer’s social media post yesterday which was described as “basically putting the onus on lecturers for these strikes” by the SU president.

Gayatri Shewani, who was VP for Edcuation last year said: “As the former VP Education and a student myself, I disagree with the statement that was released by LUSU (Lancaster University Students’ Union) and the current VP Education, Noah Katz (they/them) yesterday evening.”

The post in question was cross-posted on both the LUSU Instagram page and the LUSU VP Education page, and urged students to “speak to [their] department, speak with [their] academic reps,” and “keep records” if they feel strikes have affected them and their studies.

In a now-deleted slide from the same post, students were told they could pursue “further action” if they “remain dissatisfied” by submitting a formal complaint to the University.

Via @lancastersu on Instagram

Shewani went on to say: “I appreciate LUSU President India Ellis (she/her) public supporting UCU on the picket line today, and I’m eagerly awaiting a new formal statement from LUSU clarifying whether it stands in solidarity with these strikes.

“However, given that the UCU strike dates were released on the 8th November, I would have hoped that the entire officer team had already been united in one response to these strikes, rather than officers using their platforms to undermine one another.”

As the former VP Education, Shewani resigned in June just four days before the end of the academic year.


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A post shared by Gaya (@gayatrishewani)

Yesterday, union president, India Ellis, publicly called out her current education officer and the SU communications team who published the post.

Speaking from the Lancaster UCU picket line, she said: “It’s kind of difficult for me to stand here after I was sat in a meeting yesterday and unbeknownst to me my communications team and VP for Education put a post up basically putting the onus on lecturers for these strikes.

“I can stand here as your Students’ Union president and say that is absolutely fucking not the fucking case. I am so, so livid that the hard work I’ve been doing, the reaching out to the UCU has been completely undermined. Everything that I believe and that I stand for.”

She ended her extraordinary speech by saying: “Really sorry that LUSU is shit. I’m trying to make it better.”

Other groups have also reacted with anger to Noah Katz’ and the SU’s social media post.

The Instagram page @voteyes.tosupport.ourstaff, who were started in support of the student vote on whether or not to support last year’s industrial action, said: “In light of the recent strike action & disappointing statement from the current VP Education, we think it’s important to remember that working conditions are learning conditions. Staff and students are BOTH being exploited by uni management.”

Within the comments section of the controversial post, there was a significant amount of backlash. One person commented: “Really, really disappointing post. Staff and students should be standing together in this and LUSU should NOT be encouraging students to report their striking lecturers. VP education, do better.”

Another said, “It’s important for an SU to be supporting student’s interests during industrial action but you do that by siding with the lecturers. It is SU policy to support the strikes. The FTOs have a mandate to respect that and thankfully some of them have. This is deeply disappointing as SU comms go.”

India Ellis, Noah Katz and Lancaster SU have been approached for comment.

In a statement on their Instagram, Noah Katz said:  “A full statement from your officer team will be out later this afternoon.”

Latest development in this story

This morning, VP Education, Noah Katz, apologised to UCU lecturers and their supporters at the picket lines this morning. They said: “I unequivocally stand here with you, with the UCU” and: “We are here for you and we are here with the UCU and we are calling on the university to meet the demands.”

Their full statement can be found here.

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